This verse doesn’t sound very nice! It seems selfish and anti-social. But maybe not…
Good Hebrew poetry, this wise saying has two parallel statements saying the same thing in different words. Someone who “puts up security for a stranger” is one who “co-signs” for another. That is, they agree to pay someone else’s financial obligations if that person can’t or doesn’t.
To do that for a loved one is one thing, but to do it for “a stranger” would be crazy – we “will surely suffer!” On the other hand, one who “refuses to shake hands in pledge” – refuses to commit to such an agreement – “is safe.”
To co-sign for someone is not a sin. But it might be a really bad decision – whether for a loved one or stranger!
Of course, if we think God says, “Do this” – we’d better! But often we do it for other others reasons, some good, some not.
There are two basic problems with co-signing. 1.) It can hurt them; and 2.) It can hurt me.
It can hurt them because our co-signing may get in God’s way. He might be using this situation to teach them things He wants them to know.
It can hurt me because it might cost me plenty! It could also hurt our relationship.
Sometimes they start ducking me because they know they owe me. Or I get an attitude because I paid and I don’t appreciate how they’re living or spending their own money.
Co-sign if you think God wants you to! Otherwise, trust Him. He’s got a plan for both of you!