For centuries, parents have warned their children not to fall in with the wrong crowd. They worry that the bad behaviors of other young people will influence their children. This can even be true later in our lives; the people we choose to spend our time with can have a profound influence on us.
In today’s Proverb, a father talks to his son about the dangers of following “sinful” men (v. 10). One commentator compares these sinful men to a modern-day gang. The gang offers protection and invites the young newcomer to join them (v. 10). They promise that if he goes along with their evil schemes to hurt and steal, he will get rich (vv. 11–14).
The father’s warning is clear. “My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them” (v. 10). The father sees beyond the immediate lure of their promises. Nothing that this sinful group does will prosper. In fact, they will bring harm down on themselves and on his son. “Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it” (v. 19).
This passage can be interpreted not only as a relationship between a father and son, but as God speaking to His people. In Proverbs, the covenant relationship is explored using poetic language. Here, Solomon paints a vivid picture of the dangers of murder, theft, and covetousness, clearly referencing God’s commands given to His people: “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13), “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15), and “You shall not covet” (Ex. 20:17). With compelling imagery, the author shows the dire results of breaking God’s commands. We must listen to the guidance given by our heavenly Father. He truly knows best.
>> It is easy to let other voices talk us into doing things we know are not right, things that break God’s commands. We may justify our behavior because it produces pleasing short-term results. The warning is clear: be careful of the company you keep!
Lord, sometimes we have the wisdom to recognize what is right, but we lack the nerve to follow through. Today we ask for the discipline to choose wisdom above personal gain or man’s good opinion.