Daily Wisdom

Meditations on the Book of Proverbs

1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,

   if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,

2 you have been trapped by what you said,

   ensnared by the words of your mouth.

3 So do this, my son, to free yourself,

   since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:

Go—to the point of exhaustion—

   and give your neighbor no rest!

4 Allow no sleep to your eyes,

   no slumber to your eyelids.

5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,

   like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

 

 Have you ever made a promise you can’t keep? Regardless of the details, two things hang in the balance: your freedom and your reputation. Having made a pledge, you are now bound by your word. Break it and your reputation will suffer. Be very careful in making commitments, and in following through on them. Freedom and reputation are not easily restored.

 There is wisdom in the way this warning is given. It does not say “never make a pledge,” it’s much more nuanced than that. What should you do if you find yourself caught in a promise? Expecting these situations to happen, the father prepares his child to deal with them.

 The wise child develops competence, able to benefit from commitments and able to handle them when things change unexpectedly. The child who is told never to commit misses out on two things: the trust of others and the confidence learned through adversity.  

 How do you free yourself from a commitment you cannot keep? The key is humility. Go to the other person and humble yourself. Explain that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Apologize for your failure to follow through. Do it as soon as you can!

 You can maintain your freedom and your reputation. Humility may even enhance your reputation. But you must sacrifice your pride. To hold on to your pride is to sacrifice your reputation, but you know better than that. What good is pride anyway, if it’s the only thing you have?  

One thought on “Proverbs 6:1-5

  1. Robert Bratcher says:

    This is one of the values I have tried to uphold from my youth. To be a man of my word. Let your yes be your yes and your no your no. After 6 years of knowing my wife she is now beginning to understand why this is so important to me when in the beginning it actually frustrated her sometimes. The trust it actually instills in others and her is a priceless virtue. One that doesn’t just happen quickly and easily but requires sacrifice and consistency over a long period of time. Knowing as well that we are not perfect and will sometimes fail in this area, sometimes even when most of it is outside of our control was hard for me to accept early in marriage. Thanks for your words and consistently being a man of them. 🙂

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