“My son, if thou be surety for thy friend… Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth… Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.”
Dissected & Defined
Surety is backup security. Snared means to become entangled. Sure means to make certain.
The old English word surety is our modern English word co-sign. Have you ever co-signed for a friend or family member, and the deal went bad? Don’t you wish you would have understood or remembered this biblical principle then?!
Be Sure You Should Be Surety
God is giving us a stern warning against such arrangements. Your verbal (or written) commitment to your friend has entangled you. This has left you bound and in need of deliverance. Though it may not be forbidden, there are strict parameters in which these type of arrangements should be made.
His suggestion is simple: to gain deliverance you must find another type of backup security for your friend. Whether it be to the creditor or the principle, you must get set free.
No, you mustn’t try to wean or wiggle your way out of it. You gave your word; you are their “backup security.” But yet, you remain “entangled” with your commitment. Now the only way to ensure that the deal doesn’t go bad and backfire on you is to put yourself under that person and find a way to be released. In other words, literally become their servant. However, you must never remain in a bad spot.
Immediately gain counter security from the friend or erase the risk to the creditor, almost any creative option would do, as long as something is done humbly and quickly. Because the relationship between you and your friend, and your reputation with the creditor are at risk.
Remember to never be hasty in your desire to “stand in the gap” for a friend in financial need. First, seek counsel from your leaders and always remember there are two things that you should never mess with: a person’s money or their freedom. Surety spoils them both.