Proverbs 17:18-20 – Three fools and their patterns of self-destruction

co-signProverbs 17:18 – “A man void [destitute; lacking; in need of] of understanding [heart; mind; thought; good sense] striketh hands [claps; shakes; praise], and becometh [pledges; gives] surety [security; pledge on behalf of another] in the presence [for or as a bondsman] of his friend [confidant].

Proverbs 17:18 addresses a familiar topic found in various verses in proverbs—debt and guaranteeing another man’s financial obligation (Proverbs 6:1, 11:15, 17:18, 20:16, 22:26, 27:13).   Solomon has a word of advise for you—when a friend or family member comes seeking your signature to co-sign and guarantee their loan—Don’t Do It!   In fact, Solomon asserts that an individual that co-signs another’s loan lacks good sense [“striketh hands” is the act of shaking hands to seal a financial arrangement].

no to suretyIt has been my observation that an ill-advised loan invites financial hardships for the debtor and a potential of resentment and contention between him and the one [often a family member] who guaranteed the debt.   Solomon offers a word of advise to you who made the foolish decision to yield to the pressure of a debtor and co-signed his loan—do everything you can to get out from under the obligation (note – Proverbs 6:1-2).

Proverbs 17:19 – “He loveth transgression [sin; rebellion] that loveth strife [quarrel; contention]: and he that exalteth [boast; proud; haughty] his gate [entrance to his home; doorway; opening] seeketh [desires; strives after] destruction.”no bully

Bullying has become a national pastime in the United States and “YouTube” videos posted by young fools has perpetuated a trend of violent crimes in our communities.  Undisciplined, lacking parental instruction and void of moral principles, these young sociopaths have hollow souls and seared consciences that love strife and place no value on life.

Proverbs 17:19b states a brief principle for those tempted to boast of success and flaunt their wealth—Be careful: You are provoking resentment and inviting unwanted attention. fancy gate The example Solomon cites is of a homeowner who boasts his financial successes by building an ostentatious gate in front of his home.  Rather than frugality, this homeowner incites jealousy from his neighbors.   A modern parallel of provocative financial extravagance might be the purchase of an automobile, home, or other tangible asset that, like the ancient gate in front of a house, serves only to be a point of pride and excess.

Proverbs 17:20 – “He that hath a froward [forward; twisted; perverse] heart [mind; attitude; feelings] findeth [acquires; attains; meets with] no good [pleasure; favor]: and he that hath a perverse [contrary] tongue [speech; talk] falleth into mischief [sin; wickedness; evil].”

perverse tongueThe “froward”, wicked man whose heart is never content and whose speech is contemptible is the subject of Proverbs 17:20.  The source of this man’s problem is his heart—the seat of his thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Such a man is blind to the reality his thoughts are distorted and his sinful attitudes have alienated him from those who love him.  His “froward heart” and “perverse tongue” lead inevitably to the quandary of sin that is self-destructive and demands punishment.

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith