What Does Proverbs Say About Debt?

Solomon wrote the Proverbs to share his wisdom and help people walk closer with God.  Here is what my NIV study Bible states as the purpose of the Proverbs:

To teach people how to attain wisdom and discipline and a prudent life, how to do what is right and just and fair – short, to apply divine wisdom to daily life and to provide moral instruction.

Amongst many areas in life, the Proverbs help people be wise is their ways when it comes to debt.  Most notably are the warnings against going into debt and cosigning.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.  (Proverbs 22:7)

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.  (Proverbs 6:1-5)

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you.  (Proverbs 3:27-28)

Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.  (Proverbs 22:26-27)Proverbs Debt

A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor.  (Proverbs 17:18)

He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe. (Proverbs 11:15)

Here are some takeways from these scriptures:

  • The world’s view of debt is leverage.  Leverage more so you can have more.  But God’s view of debt is one of slavery and servitude.  God doesn’t want us to put anything before him.  Debt does that because it’s an obligation to pay.  You can’t use that money for any other purpose than to pay back your lendor.
  • Debt settlement may be required in some  difficult situations, but a Christians should always look do whatever is necessary to repay what is owed.  Even if a debt is settled a Christian should prayerfully consider repaying the full amount of the debt when the funds do come available in the future.
  •  Don’t ever cosign a loan or strike hands in pledge for another.  There are many stories of friends or family members cosigning for another.  Once you cosign you become responsible for the debt when the other person can’t pay.  Most of the time, the person doesn’t really have the money to pay or has a history of loan default.  This is the reason they need you to stand behind the loan for them.  If someone ever asks you to cosign for a loan (including family) tell them you can’t do it because you’re trying to live your life according to Biblical financial principles.

What do you think about these principles?

About Jason Price

Jason Price is a family man saved by grace, passionate about faithful financial stewardship (1 Cor 4:2 NIV), soccer and the Pacific sun.

  • http://www.blogincomelife.com valentina

    I have learned that there are two types of debt: good debt and bad debt. Bad debt is that which eats off your table while as good debt puts food on the table, i.e., debt incurred to buy an investment that produces positive cash flow. Without the latter being an option it would be difficult to build up cash generating assets.

    • http://www.onemoneydesign.com Jason Price

      Valentina, I think some of that debt (good debt) you mention has gotten many people in trouble. Let’s take real estate for an example. Technically, getting a loan for investment property is taking on debt. Even if you have positive cash flow, it still can be risky if your source of revenue decides to move out. You’re still servant to the lender until the debt is paid off. I’m not saying I’m against rental property investments, but I think it would be wise to use as much cash as possible. Anyway, I guess my point is leverage can be a risky game to play.

  • http://www.gobankingrates.com/ Mandy June

    Love this post. I like how you related finances to the bible. It really forces me to analyze the bible in a different way. There are tons of life lessons that we can learn from reading the bible but I never expected finances to be one of them.

    • http://www.onemoneydesign.com Jason Price

      Thanks, Mandy. I’m glad you like it. The Bible has over 2350 scriptures related to money according to Crown Financial Ministries. I use the Bible as the foundation for managing money. Such Biblical principles have been a tremendous blessing for my life and have taught me a lot about money management. Hope you’ll browse through some of the other Bible and Money articles.