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Walk With Wise Persons
Proverbs 13:20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
20 He who walks with wise men will be wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
He who walks with wise men will be wise: Walk: (Heb. halak) in integrity (Heb. tōm) a state of blamelessness being free of guilt. (Prov. 2:7) In the Bible, the expression “to walk” is figurative and illustrative and can mean to follow a certain course of action, as “Noah walked with God.” (Gen. 6:9; 5:22) Those who walk with God follow the life course outlined by God’s Word and will find his favor, that is, be pleasing to him. Pursuing such a life course makes you different from most unbelievers. The Greek New Testament uses the same illustrative expression, contrasting two different courses of action sought by one before and after becoming a servant of God. (Eph. 2:2, 10; 4:17; 5:2) Similarly “running” is also used to symbolize a course of action. (1 Pet. 4:4) God tells us that the prophets in Judah “ran” though he did not send them, yet they took the prophetic course, that is, prophesied falsely. (Jer. 23:21) Paul gives us a visual picture of the Christian course in terms of “running.” He compares it to a race that a person must run, while also obeying the rules of the race if they are to win the prize. – 1 Cor. 9:24; Gal. 2:2; 5:7.
Wisdom: (Heb. chokmah) is sound judgment, based on knowledge and understanding. It is the balanced application of that knowledge to answer difficulties, achieve objectives, sidestep or ward off dangers, not to mention helping others to accomplish the same. The wise person is often contrasted with the foolishness or stupid person. (Deut. 32:6; Prov. 11:29; Eccles. 6:8) The wise person (Heb. chakam) is one who is shrewd, as he has the ability to understand and discern, so he would be a trusted guide or advisor.
but the companion of fools will suffer harm: The companion (Heb. raah) is a friend or an associate of someone and, in this case, it is a friend who associates with a foolish person who does stupid things. Fools: (Heb. kesîl) hate knowledge as they lack good judgment. Their character is stupidity, rudeness, that is, one who completely lacks understanding, who is rebellious in his ways. (Prov. 1:22) Foolishness: (Heb. ivveleth) The foolishness of the foolish one, who has the trait of acting stupidly or rashly because he is devoid of wisdom or understanding, the Hebrew noun focusing on the evil behaviors which occur in this state. Suffer harm is an expression referring to physical or emotional pain.
Who are the fools with whom a wise person should have no associations? The fool is not simply just one who lacks knowledge but is unaware of moral truth. They are godless persons. This proverb is talking about more than mere casual contact with a foolish person. It is talking about a person with whom one spends a lot of time and shared experiences. What a powerful effect our friends, companions, and associates can have on our thoughts, likes, and dislikes! There is no denying the damage a bad companionship can bring. This can be for the better, or it can be for the worse. As line one shows, good friends, wise friends can be real assistance in our continuing our walk with God. The implication here of walking with a wise person implies a close connection, who has a molding effect for good.