He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
Every one exerts an influence on some others, and in turn is acted on by them. It is vain to endeavour to escape, or destroy, this mutual influence. There is a strong tendency in human character to the assimilating itself to that of those with whom it is in contact. The text represents the acquisition of wisdom as a direct consequence of the associating, or walking with, the wise. The association must be both intimate and voluntary. There is in all of us the desire of being esteemed or approved. This desire of approval is nearly allied, if not identical with, that dislike of being singular which has so mighty an operation on all classes of mind. It is almost a necessary consequence on this, that we shall gradually, though perhaps imperceptibly, assimilate ourselves to the tastes and tendencies of our companions. Illustrate a man, not of vicious habits himself, thrown continually into association with the dissolute. Unless he has great moral courage, he will inevitably assimilate to the vicious. His virtuous principles get secretly undermined. We cannot argue, with equal probability, that if the case were that of a vicious man associated with virtuous the result would be a conformity of character. There is a tendency in our nature to the imitation of what is wrong, but not — at least not in the same degree — to the imitation of what is right. There is, however, a strong probability that, through association with virtuous men, the vicious will in a degree be shamed out of his viciousness. If you add the force of example to the desire of approval, the probability will be heightened. Known facts of experience bear out our text. Then walk with the wise that are dead — be specially careful what authors, what books you make your companions. And walk with the wise of the living, with the virtuous, with the righteous. Nay, walk with God.
(H. Melvill, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.