Proverbs 13:20
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
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(20) Shall be destroyed—i.e., morally ruined.

Proverbs 13:20-21. He that walketh with wise men — That is, who keeps company, and commonly converses with them; shall be wise — Shall learn wisdom and goodness, both from their counsels and examples; but a companion of fools — But he who associates himself with the wicked; shall be destroyed — Shall be as certainly ruined as he will be unavoidably infected with their wickedness. Evil pursueth sinners — The evil of punishment, in proportion to their evil of sin, shall certainly, sooner or later, overtake them, although they may please themselves with hopes of impunity; but to the righteous good shall be repaid — The good which men, truly righteous, do, will infallibly return into their own bosoms, and reward them with many blessings.

13:14. The rule by which the wise regulate their conduct, is a fountain yielding life and happiness. 15. The way of sinners is hard upon others, and hard to the sinner himself. The service of sin is slavery; the road to hell is strewed with the thorns and thistles that followed the curse. 16. It is folly to talk of things of which we know nothing, and to undertake what we are no way fit for. 17. Those that are wicked, and false to Christ and to the souls of men, do mischief, and fall into mischief; but those that are faithful, find sound words healing to others and to themselves. 18. He that scorns to be taught, will certainly be brought down. 19. There are in man strong desires after happiness; but never let those expect any thing truly sweet to their souls, who will not be persuaded to leave their sins. 20. Multitudes are brought to ruin by bad company. And all that make themselves wicked will be destroyed. 21. When God pursues sinners he is sure to overtake them; and he will reward the righteous. 22. The servant of God who is not anxious about riches, takes the best method of providing for his children. 23. The poor, yet industrious, thrive, though in a homely manner, while those who have great riches are often brought to poverty for want of judgment. 24. He acts as if he hated his child, who, by false indulgence, permits sinful habits to gather strength, which will bring sorrow here, and misery hereafter. 25. It is the misery of the wicked, that even their sensual appetites are always craving. The righteous feeds on the word and ordinances, to the satisfying of his soul with the promises of the gospel, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Bread of life.The connection is somewhat obscure. Either, "Satisfied desire is pleasant, therefore it is an abomination to fools to depart from the evil on which their minds are set;" or, "Sweet is the satisfaction of desire, yet the wicked will not depart from the evil which makes that satisfaction impossible." 20. The benefits of good and evil of bad society are contrasted. Walketh; commonly converseth and associateth himself.

Shall be wise; shall learn wisdom and goodness, both from their counsels and examples. The design of this proverb is to show the wonderful influence which a man’s society hath upon him, either to save, or to corrupt and destroy him.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise,.... Who is a companion of them that fear the Lord; converses frequently with them in private about spiritual and experimental things, and walks with them in public in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord; he by those means grows wiser and wiser, gains a large stock of spiritual knowledge and experience; for this holds good both in natural and spiritual wisdom, a man of any capacity at all will improve by keeping wise company;

but a companion of fools shall be destroyed; the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "shall become like them"; be a fool as they are, and grow still more and more foolish. The Septuagint version is, "shall be known"; known by the company he keeps to be a fool also: or rather, "shall be broken" (t); ruined and destroyed, "evil communications corrupt good manners", 1 Corinthians 15:33, and so bring to ruin and destruction.

(t) "conteretur", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus; "conquassabitur", Cocceius; "fragetur", Michaelis; "infringetur", Schultens, so Ben Melech.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be {i} destroyed.

(i) As he is partaker of their wickedness, and bears with their vices, so will he be punished alike as they are.

20. He that walketh] Or (with a change of Heb. vowel points), Walk with wise men and be wise.

destroyed] Lit. be broken. See Proverbs 11:15, where the same word is rendered shall smart for it. He who is the companion of fools in friendship shall become their companion in destruction. Comp. Proverbs 1:10; Proverbs 1:18.

Verse 20. - He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; or, according to the Khetib, walk with wise men, and thou shall be wise. Ecclus. 6:36, "If thou seest a man of understanding, get thee betimes unto him, and let thy foot wear the steps of his door." So the Greek maxim -

Σοφοῖς ὁμιλῶν καὐτὸς ἐκβήσῃ σοφός.

"With wise conversing thou wilt wise become."

and Eurip., 'Rhesus,' 206 -

Σοφοῦ παρ ἀνδρὸς χρὴ σοφόν τι μανθάνειν

"A man that's wise will thee true wisdom teach." A companion of fools shall be destroyed; literally, shall be broken, shall suffer moral ruin; Revised Version margin, "shall smart for it." But the antithesis is not well brought out by this rendering: and as the word may bear the sense of "doing ill" as well as of "suffering ill," the interpretation of the Vulgat. intimates the correct idea of the clause: "The friend of fools shall turn out the same;" "He who associates with fools shall do evil." Septuagint, "He who roams about with fools shall be known." "Tell me your companions, and I will tell you what you are."

"Talis quis esse putatur qualis ei est sodalitas." A Dutch proverb says, "He that lives with cripples learns to limp;" and the Spanish, "He that goes with wolves learns to howl." We have a homely English proverb, "He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas;" so the Orientals say," He that takes the raven for his guide shall light upon carrion." Proverbs 13:2020 Whoever goes with wise men, becomes wise;

     And whoever has intercourse with fools, becomes base.

Regarding the significance of this proverb in the history of the religion and worship of Israel, vid., p. 39. We have translated 20a after the Kerı̂; the translation according to the Chethı̂b is: "go with wise men and become wise" (cf. Proverbs 8:33), not הלוך, for the connection of the (meant imperatively) infin. absol. with an imper. (meant conclusively) is not tenable; but הלוך is an imper. form established by הלכוּ, Jeremiah 51:50 (cf. הלוך equals לכת, Numbers 22:14), and appears to have been used with such shades of conception as here as intercourse and companionship for לך. Regarding ירוע gnid, vid., at Proverbs 11:15; there it meant malo afficietur, here it means malus (pejor) fiet. The Venet. (contrary to Kimchi, who explains by frangetur) rightly has κακωθήσεται. There is here a play upon words; רעה means to tend (a flock), also in general to be considerate about anything (Proverbs 15:14; Proverbs 44:20), to take care of anything with the accusative of the person (Proverbs 28:7; Proverbs 29:3), to hold intercourse with any one: he who by preference seeks the society of fools, himself becomes such (Jerome, similis efficietur), or rather, as ירוע expresses, he comes always morally lower down. "A wicked companion leads his associate into hell."

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