Solomon is giving financial advice to his children in this proverb. He is telling them how to financially deal with someone in debt and on the brink of losing everything. The indebted owes them as well. Solomon gives financial advice on two types of situations for such a person.
Understanding this two-fold advice requires knowing what the Law of God says about taking a pledge to ensure repayment. Deuteronomy 24:10-13 says, “When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into his house to get what he is offering as a pledge. Stay outside and let the man to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you. If the man is poor, do not go to sleep with his pledge in your possession. Return his cloak to him by sunset so that he may sleep in it. Then he will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the LORD your God.”
Now for the first scenario. What if my neighbor owes me a little money and then that person takes up security for a stranger’s loan? Now the likelihood that he or she will repay me is at least twice as unlikely. The risk of not being repaid has more than doubled. In that case, Solomon says to take my neighbor’s garment as security according to the Law, a rather kind act.
Now the second scenario. What if my neighbor owes me money and then that person foolishly takes up security for a foreign woman. This woman is a stranger to me, a woman who is considered by others to be a wayward woman. A wayward woman is one who changes her mind often and is unpredictable. She is given to perverse deviation from what is desired, expected, or required because she is consumed with gratifying her own impulses or inclinations. Such a woman is at a high risk of not repaying a loan, and therefore a high risk to the person who owns me. My indenter should be held accountable, even to the degree of taking his garment as a pledge.
Jesus flips the table with charity. He says, “If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:29-31)