Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 13:20
"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm"
This is the Hebrew word halik, which means to step, walk, journey. Solomon makes an observation that those who make friends with wise people will make wiser decisions themselves. Who are your traveling companions on the pathway of life? If you look around and the people you hang around with are consistently making selfish and destructive decisions, then you will face increasing temptation to make the same kinds of bad decisions. The answer is to perform a “friendectomy.”
If there is one thing that parents of teenagers must watch, it is this friend factor. The greatest predictor of your child's behavior is the past behavior of their friends.
This is the Hebrew word raa, which means evil. It is the opposite of tob,the word for good. In this passage it has been translated sufferbecause the idea of that which is not beneficial or destructive causes suffering. Solomon is declaring a truth that we often don't want to see but is true all the same. If you hang around people who make short-sighted decisions to be selfish or immoral, they will draw painful, destructive, harmful things towards themselves. Then they will probably say that people are against them. This will not be true. They are against themselves. The choices and actions that they are taking are a magnet for bad consequences.
Do not say that you don't know why bad things are always happening to you. It is your choices or the people around you and their choices.
This is the Hebrew word raah, which means to associate with, to keep company with. The critical insight in this proverb is that you don't have to be a fool yourself to gain the awful consequences of foolish people; all you have to do is have fools as your friends. Notice that even those who are the companion of fools are caught up in the suffering of the fools. You catch some of the backwash from their bad choices. You will be stained by the splash that comes from their bad decisions.
It doesn't matter if they are the only ones who will accept you. Your need for acceptance is trumped by the actions that they are taking. It would be better to be alone for a period than run with the foolish crowd. Each one of us has a huge need for acceptance; and we are often willing to be embraced by people who are proud, rebellious, evil, selfish, angry, immoral, etc., just to be accepted. This, however, would be a mistake. Solomon correctly assesses the fact that you will be swept up in the spill-over from their sins.