Prohibited Pledges
Deuteronomy 24:6, 10-13
No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he takes a man's life to pledge.…

Wealth is power; in every nation we need the safeguards of law to prevent such power from becoming tyranny. The poor are ever liable to become the prey of voracious avarice.

I. A SEASONABLE LOAN IS A PRICELESS SERVICE, Men can render service one to another in a thousand different forms. Redundance of possession on the part of one may serviceably supply the deficiencies of another. One man has riches which he cannot profitably employ, another has trade for which his money capital is insufficient. One man has accumulated experience, another has penetrative wisdom, another has technical knowledge. All this is equipment for useful service. So, in the spiritual kingdom, one has tender feeling, another has gift of prayer or gift of speech, another has extended influence. All human endowments are a common fund to be distributed for the benefit of all. There are occasions in human life when a loan is more useful than a gift. Temporary exigencies sometimes arise, for which loan, on fitting security, is the wisest alleviation.


1. This serves as a check upon facile borrowing. If loans are granted on too easy terms, we may encourage a man in reckless commercial speculation, or destroy the natural checks on personal extravagance.

2. This serves to prevent strife. Borrowers have oftentimes a short memory for liabilities. While human nature has its imperfections and society its scoundrels, it is wiser to have solid guarantee for the redemption of loans, and honest borrowers will not object to give suitable pledges for honesty.

3. Pledges are needed on the ground of uncertain mortality. "We know not what a day may bring forth."

III. PLEDGES WHICH TOUCH A MAN'S LIFE ARE PROHIBITED. Money-getting is never to be so pressed as to impinge on the domain of life. Human life is a sacred thing, and must not be trifled with. It has latent capabilities, and may yet become a source of blessing to myriads. Gain becomes as the small dust, an inappreciable thing, when placed in the balance against a human life. The gold of a continent is a bubble in comparison with a man's soul.

IV. GENEROUS SURRENDER OF POVERTY'S PLEDGES AN ACT OF PIETY. Pledges are telltales of common dishonesty. If truthfulness and honor were as prevalent as they ought to be, no pledge would be needed. A man's word ought to be as good as his pledge. It often does a man good if we make his honor the only pledge. He is ennobled by our confidence. He rises in self-respect. Debts of honor are often paid prior to those which have material security. If we form a high estimate of men, they will often strive to reach the ideal. Generous treatment of the poor secures their warmest interest on our behalf. The poorest of the poor has still access to the audience-chamber of the heavenly palace. Their simple suit on our behalf will sometimes secure blessings which no arithmetic can measure. Deeds of kindness done to the indigent are done to God, for God identifies himself with them. "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord." If the concession he an act of sterling love, pure from the alloy of selfishness, it is an act of righteousness - the fruit of the Divine Spirit's grace. This is not self-righteousness, for genuine love to men is a gracious affection. It does not begin with self; it does not terminate in self. God is its object; hence it shall be counted for righteousness. As Abraham's faith counted for righteousness, so does also genuine love. - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life to pledge.

WEB: No man shall take the mill or the upper millstone to pledge; for he takes [a man's] life to pledge.

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