Growing up I remember many times when my parents would be concerned with who my friends were. One time in particular, they basically forbid me from my continuing to hang out with a couple of guys. I was not too happy with the situation but knew that disobedience to such a strong prohibition came with very real consequences. Little did I know but it would only be a few months later my mom told me that they were caught shoplifting. I am not sure what would have happened to me if I had been there with them – but that was not an issue because of the prevailing wisdom of my father and mother over my own.
My dad never quoted this proverb outright to me – but he must have read it. More than once my parents would remind me that the company, I keep would have direct, decisive implications upon the character I later would possess. If we walk among the foolish, we risk becoming even greater fools than them. Yet, we cannot help but walk among our fellow citizens – we have no choice other than to isolate ourselves in our homes, in the woods somewhere or deep in a cave. In my own foolishness, I cannot always tell the “ever wise” apart from the foolish.
No matter how highly regarded and wise mankind believes himself to be, he will continue to be the consummate fool in the eyes of someone who does not know him. Jesus came sauntering into our lives and we thought him the drunken fool for doing what he was doing among those he was interacting with. But we did not know Him yet. We did not take the time to get to know him because we all thought him to be the consummate fool. We could not even muster up curiosity.
Pharisees thought him to be the ultimate fool for entering into the homes of the tax collector Levi who would become Matthew. Instead of interacting with the crowds in Jericho, Jesus looked up into the Sycamore Tree and called Zacchaeus down – to share a meal and fellowship and salvation. How did that crowd feel?? Jesus crossed the border of the hated Samaritans. What did the disciples feel?? How did the disciples feel about walking on such ground with their Rabbi in the lead? When we first read such stories, how do we feel about such foolish acts?
After we have read them, studied them, pondered and prayed over them, do we continue to feel, continue to believe they were such completely foolish acts?
Just a closer walk with this ever so dramatically foolish Jesus will make us wiser. Wiser to the lesser ways of my even greater foolishness for not taking the risk, walking even among the most foolish with my Rabbi, walking with my Savior who is Jesus Christ my Lord. Walking among fools reveals my true character!
I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee
“Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be” (Author Anonymous)
Proverbs 13:20 The Message
20 Become wise by walking with the wise;
hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Today’s proverb speaks of these very things. It speaks of a “walk with wise men” versus a “shepherding by fools.”
First let’s look at the walk with “wise men.” The one who walks with wise men will be wise. The word for “walk” here refers to a journey or a walk from one place to another. The company during this walk was a wise man, or wise men.
Proverbs 2:20 refers to it as a walk with “good men” and a “pathway of the righteous.” When looking for companions and mentors – we do well to look for people who have walked with God (Who Himself is the wisest companion to have on the roads of life).
These people are characterized by the apparent fact that they “allegedly” know God. This they have supposedly “acquired” over a long or short lifetime of pursuing a relationship with Him through “reading and knowing His Word.”
They have learned by “experience” that obedience to God is the wisest way to walk – and seeing life through His perspective and Word is how to obtain this.
Look for such people and surround yourself with them and their counsel. They will counsel you to walk closely with God – and learn to apply His Word to every situation in life. Their lives will have the sweet smell of God’s favor upon them (even if the world deems them less than a success by their standards).
Such people will be humble, gracious, loving, kind – and yet strong and willing to stand on God’s principles no matter what. The blessing for being around such people is that you will become one of them. The one who walks with wise men – will himself become wise. One thing I would add to this is that a wise man or woman will look for at least one wise man or woman with some age on them. The Word makes one wise – but wisdom over time is a rare thing to find. When you do – befriend the one who has it – and – listen to them often! That is, of course, if the one “wiser than us” we are walking with is truly the wiser.
This one who grows wise in the company of wise men is contrasted with the “companion of fools.” The word companion here is the Hebrew word “ra ah” which means to tend or feed sheep – i.e., a genuine shepherd of one another.
Here is one who is being shepherded by fools. He is fed and tended by them – having them lead him into their ways and their paths. The fools he considers friends and mentors are mentioned in several ways in Scripture. The word for fool is “kesiyl” and it means a fool or one lacking in wisdom.
In Ecclesiastes 4:5 the fool is lazy, folding his hands in inactivity as his life wastes away. In that same chapter verse 13 uses this word to describe a young man who “knows everything” and will not be instructed by anyone around him. He even mocks those who offer wisdom – preferring the company of His own foolishness to any advice or instruction, sort of like Jesus’ own disciples as they argued among themselves over who would be greatest. (Luke 22:24-30)
Psalm 49:10 refers to this fool as one who thinks his stuff will last forever and lives for it rather than any kind of spiritual pursuit of God.
Proverbs 1:32 speaks of the fool as one who loves wayward living and not only ignores the wisdom of God – but written earlier in chapter 1 verse 22 ESV we see him hating both the wisdom and the God who gave it. 22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
Psalm 92:6-7 reminds us that he also mocks the whole concept of God’s justice and judgment. Proverbs 3:35 reminds us that he displays his godless dishonor like a trophy – and finally Ecclesiastes 10:2 the Teacher says that his heart (that which hates wisdom) is always turning him towards the wrong direction in life.
What happens to the one who has such foolish companions and mentors?
The language here is a very pointed. He will suffer harm as a result of these leaders and friends. The word used here is quite descriptive. It is the Hebrew word “rua” – which referred to the deafening shout or blast of a horn that took place right before your enemy came upon you in battle.
Such a shout was called a shout of victory – and to those about to be vanquished – it was the most terrifying sound you can imagine. Often those who heard it were not prepared for the devastating defeat they were about to receive.
The psychology of the battlefield. But when the shout rang out – their cockiness would be soon replaced by terror and fear. Too often that is how the foolish are awakened to the measures of their folly. They are full of self-confidence and self-congratulation until disaster awakens them to their true state. The result of their poor choice of companions and commanders is the threat of great ruin.
Unfortunately, some will read this and mock – saying that they are doing fine. They will even point to a life where everything seemed pretty good for their friends and mentors. But whether we live in relative comfort, ease, and man-oriented success is not the measure of a man.
The true measure of a person and the way they lived happens in the twinkling of an eye – in the exact moment after they leave this world. We are reminded in Hebrews 9:27 that we all have an appointment with death. This happens only once, “It is appointed for man to die once, then comes the judgment.”
There is not a second chance – no reincarnation to have another shot. When we die – we will either be present with the Lord – or wholly absent from His favor forever. In that very moment it truly will be seen how wise it was to walk with people who are wise. And ultimately the One Wise Man with whom we should walk is Jesus Christ. It is by His immeasurable wisdom we will escape so great a peril – so great a judgment – and forever enjoy so great a salvation. Walk with Him – take a risk – be wise – and be blessed far beyond your days on this earth!
When my feeble life is o’er
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom’s shore, to Thy shore
Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Holy and gracious God, you are the greatest of all. You are full of wonders that no mere human can comprehend. Lord, I seek to understand you and your ways so that I can live according to your commandments. I pray for your divine illumination in my heart and mind. Help me see what you intend for me to see. Help me understand what you intend for me to understand. Open my eyes and my ears to see you and hear your whispers. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.