Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 12:26
"The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray"
Solomon is trying to get us to see that the righteous person is more than just the person who does things right. He is screaming that righteousness is about positive benefit to others. We often see righteousness as Pharisaical obsession with the rules, but this is not the essence of true godly righteousness.
True godly righteousness is about positive benefit being added to the relationships in your life. Look at the two great commandments: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. These two commandments which sum up the whole law and the prophets are about positive benefit. With God, it is glorify Him in your actions, words, attitudes, and motives. With all the other relationships, it is the positive benefit of meeting their needs.
See how Solomon is phrasing it here. The righteous person makes sure that his neighbor is guided to the right place, to a beneficial place. It is not okay for a person making a claim to righteousness to not help another person whom they can help. This is Jesus' lesson with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Your neighbor is anyone whose need you see and whose need you’re in a position to help.
This is the Hebrew word tur which means seek out, explore, investigate, guide. The idea is that the righteous person cares about those around him. He seeks to understand them and what they need.
Are you making a positive difference in each of the ten relationships that surround you: God, Self, Marriage, Family, Church, Work, Money, Society, Friends, Enemies. That is what it means to be righteous. Make sure that you do not limit your understanding of righteousness to a little concept of not making any mistakes.
but the way of the wicked leads them astray
Notice that the wicked person does harm to his neighbor. The wicked person is the one who selfishly seeks his own benefit to the degree that he regularly harms his neighbor to get it.
In other words, if the wicked have to steer a person they know into a bad investment to make a commission, they will. If the wicked have to cover up a faulty aspect of a used car to sell it, they will. If the wicked person can get a better grade by taking a page from the library so that others can't study from that page, the wicked person will do that. If a wicked person needs a dupe to make fun of and to have a good time, he may fake friendship to get someone drunk to make fun of them. If a wicked person wants sexual relations, he may use drugs to date-rape a woman. Remember that the key to moving across the line to wickedness is being willing to harm others to get what you want.
Solomon is trying to get us to move across the righteousness line and look to be benefiting others. Don't slide across the line of wickedness. It is not worth it.