Proverbs 6:1-5,12-19 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What counsel are we given in Proverbs 6:1 (printed below?) What does this mean?

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have shaken hands pledging yourself for a stranger (Proverbs 6:1)

Verse 1 warns us not to “put up security for our neighbor;” we are being warned not to pledge ourselves as surety. “Surety” means becoming legally liable for the debts or default of another person. By becoming surety, you are legally obligating yourself to pay the debt if that other person proves himself unable or unwilling to do so.

2. What is the consequence of allowing ourselves to become surety? See Proverbs 6:2 (printed below)

…you are trapped by the words of your mouth, you have been snared by the words of your mouth. (Proverbs 6:2)

If you ever allow yourself to become surety you are allowing yourself to become “trapped by the words of your mouth.” By the vow of commitment you have taken whereby you have pledged yourself to be responsible for the other person’s debts, “you have fallen into your neighbor’s hand.” You have subjected yourself to him and placed yourself in bondage to him by obligating yourself to be accountable for his financial responsibilities.

3. If we have allowed ourselves to become surety for a neighbor, what does Proverbs 6:3-4 (printed below) counsel us to do?

Now, my son, do this and deliver yourself, seeing that you have fallen into your neighbor’s hand: Go, humble yourself and persistently plead with your neighbor. (4) Allow no sleep for your eyes, no slumber for your eyelids. (Proverbs 6:3-4)

The counsel given in verses 3-4 is to “persistently plead with your neighbor.” That is to say, approach him with an urgent persistence even to the point of imposing upon him, soliciting him to release you from your commitment. The counsel is to “humble yourself”—for the sake of your future and your well-being, forget your pride. If necessary, if it will be of any help, plead with your neighbor and even beg him to release you from the obligation you have taken upon yourself. Do not delay and do not rest until you have done all you possibly can to extricate yourself from the perilous situation into which you have put yourself.

4. What kind of man is being described in Proverbs 6:12-14 (printed below?)

A worthless person, a man of iniquity, is he who goes around with a perverse mouth. (13) He winks with his eye, he speaks with his feet, he makes signals with his fingers. (14) In his heart is perverseness. He is constantly devising evil; he sows discord. (Proverbs 6:12-14)

In verses 12-14 our attention is directed to “a worthless person, a man of iniquity.” The passage is referring to a man who is morally worthless and wicked. This kind of man goes around with “a perverse mouth;” he goes about speaking and acting in ways that are morally twisted and wrong. “In his heart is perverseness.” The perverseness that characterizes his life (verse 12b) springs from his heart: his is “rotten at the core.”

5. According to Proverbs 6:15 (printed below), what will be the fate of such a man?

…his calamity will come upon him suddenly. All of a sudden he will be broken—and there will be no remedy. (Proverbs 6:15)

Verse 15 warns of the disaster that shall surely overtake such a man. That disaster will come upon him suddenly: “therefore” (because of his character and because of his life), “calamity” (or, disaster) will come upon him “suddenly” (without warning, without opportunity for repentance). When that disaster comes “there will be no remedy;” (i.e.; there will be no possibility of restoration; it will be final and eternal.)