26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; 27 if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.
This is another proverbial warning about debt (see 6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18). While most references are to co-signing for others (friend or stranger), this one’s about covering “for debts” which could be other’s or my own.
Verse 26 says it twice. We’re not supposed to be “one who shakes hands in pledge” (a binding, but non-verbal, commitment) or “puts up security” (probably in the context of a verbal exchange).
Either way, we’re strongly advised not to do it!
The reason is simple (:27). “If you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.” While “bed” for the average ancient Israelite wasn’t the piece of furniture we know, it did represent the situation (pad, wrappings, covers) where we know we can go to be safe, find rest and sleep soundly.
Admittedly, this wise saying doesn’t say it’s a sin — just that it’s not a very smart thing to do to myself.
And it doesn’t sound as bad as having a loan shark’s guys come and break my kneecaps! But this situation would have been a real everyday hardship for a typical Israelite…and it could have been avoided.
But I can also apply this advice to any aspect of my life. Based on what I know to be true, why should I continue in this situation?
Maybe a modern version of this ancient wise saying would be “Keep your hands in your pockets, Keep your mouth shut and just keep it moving!”