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The Path That Leads to Life
Proverbs 12:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 A righteous man will seek out his neighbor,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
A righteous man will seek out his neighbor: The righteous, upright, or just man (צַדִּיק tsaddiq) refers to one who is in a righteous standing before God, who is characterized by righteous actions and morals in accordance with God’s moral standards. (Prov. 3:33) Will Seek (תּוּר tur) has the sense of diligently acquiring information, investigating, searching out, trying to get, and greatly desiring the information. Neighbor (רֵעַ rea) does not necessarily refer to someone who lives next door or near another. The Hebrew noun generally refers to any countryman focused on local companions, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. It can be of the same race, social/geographical, or someone who lives within your community. The context here, though, is a close friend.
but the way of the wicked leads them astray: The way of the wicked refers to one who is in mental darkness in that they cannot see any light whatsoever. Mental darkness is a sort of mental blindness where one sees what others see and even understands the meaning, but their mind is beyond repentance, unreceptive, and closed, so they see it as foolish. They are in darkness mentally. Thus, to follow the wicked who is incapable of guiding anyone is to be led astray (תָּעָה taah), be it a belief or a course of action. In friendship, the righteous will always be misled into a wrong view or belief of something or wrong behaviors by the wicked. The righteous one will figuratively wander off the path of righteousness.
King Solomon contrasts the righteous man’s way with that of the wicked man. The righteous man is cautious about choosing his friends whom he knows can impact his way of thinking, feeling, and believing. He selects them wisely, endeavoring to avoid the danger of being led off the path that leads to eternal life. Not so with the wicked, who refuse counsel and demand to have their own way. Misled, the wicked one wanders about. Thus, if you decide to associate with a wicked friend, you too will be led astray. Remember, when a dirty glove shakes the hand of a clean white glove, it is the dirty glove that rubs off on the clean glove.