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The Path That Leads to Life
Proverbs 12:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 A righteous man will seek out his neighbor,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
A righteous man will seek out his neighbor: The righteous, upright or just man (Heb. tsedeq) refers to one who is in a righteous standing before God, who is characterized by righteous actions and morals in accordance to God’s moral standards. (Prov. 3:33) Will Seek (tur) has the sense of diligently acquiring information, investigating, searching out, trying to get, greatly desiring information. Neighbor (Heb. rea) does not necessarily refer to someone who lives next door or near to another. The Hebrew noun generally refers to any countryman with a focus on local companions, friends, acquaintances, colleagues. It can be one who is of the same race, or social/geographical or someone who lives within your community. The context here, though, is one who is a close friend.
but the way of the wicked leads them astray: The way of the wicked is referring to one who is in mental darkness in that they cannot see any light whatsoever. Mental darkness is a sort of mental blindness where one sees what others see and even understands the meaning, but their mind is beyond repentance, unreceptive, closed, so they see it as foolish. They are in darkness mentally. Thus, to follow the wicked who is incapable of guiding anyone is to be led astray (taah), be it a belief or a course of action. In friendship, the righteous will always be misled into a wrong view or belief of something or wrong behaviors by the wicked. The righteous one will figuratively wander off the path of righteousness.
King Solomon is contrasting the way of the righteous man with that of the wicked man. The righteous man is cautious about choosing his friends whom he knows can impact his way of thinking, feeling, and believing. He chooses them wisely, endeavoring to avoid the danger of being led off the path that leads to eternal life. Not so with the wicked, who refuse counsel and demand to have their own way. Misled, the wicked one wanders about. Thus, if you choose to associate with a wicked friend, you too will be led astray. Remember, when a dirty glove shakes the hand of a clean white glove, it is the dirty glove that rubs off on the clean glove.