Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. — Proverbs 22:24-25
Some years ago, I remember seeing a skit at our church youth camp where a girl stood on a chair holding the hands of another person who was standing on the floor. As hard as she tried, the girl on the chair could not pull the person below up onto the chair. However, when the roles were reversed, the person on the floor was able to pull the girl off the chair with very little effort. It was a great demonstration of the fact that it is much easier to pull someone down than to lift someone up. That is not only true physically, but also spiritually.
Choosing to associate closely with people who are not where they should be spiritually will influence us in a downward direction. Often the negative “pulls” are subtle, at least at first. We might be influenced to be discouraged, careless about spiritual matters, or critical. Perhaps there is a temptation to gossip, shade the truth, or engage in questionable activities. Although we might not realize that we have been affected, we can gradually become desensitized, and wrong behavior patterns could become acceptable and allowed in our own lives. In time, that negative influence could even cause us to turn completely away from God.
Solomon was aware of that danger. Our focus verses admonish us to keep away from angry people — those whose lives are characterized by frustration and outbursts of temper. He pointed out that relationships with such individuals would put one’s personal stability and equilibrium in jeopardy, because an angry person’s path is full of “snares” that any misstep can trigger.
The people we spend time with help shape us into the people we become. Recently I read about a young musician who wanted to become more accomplished on her instrument. Her teacher advised her to “play up” — to practice with individuals who were highly skilled musicians. The teacher knew that playing along with them would help the young woman improve her own proficiency.
What about us? We may not be musicians striving for musical expertise, but the same principle applies to our personal relationships. Those we associate with will impact who we are. It is true that we live in a world that needs to be reached for Christ, and we should not shirk our responsibility to reach out to those who need God. However, we must be cautious when developing close relationships. We need strong, spiritually encouraging friends to help keep us lifted up when the negativity around us threatens to get us down. We need associates who do not thrive on critical talk to maintain peace in our hearts. We need people who love and support God’s Word to keep us full of hope.
Are our friendships encouraging us toward a closer walk with God or pulling us away from Him? It is critical for us to answer that question honestly and make any needed adjustments.
This passage begins the third section of the Book of Proverbs, a portion known as “the words of the wise men.” Some commentators suggest that these proverbs, from Proverbs 22:17 through 23:11, were written by other sages and compiled by Solomon. The writing style has been associated with an ancient Egyptian wisdom book called “Instruction of Amenemope,” while the personal nature of the writings is reflective of parental instruction or a teacher’s tutoring of a student.
Proverbs 22:22-23 prohibit exploiting the poor. The phrase “in the gate” refers to the custom of having the judicial court located at the gate of the city. The teacher warned that God would judge those who oppress the poor and afflicted.
Referring to business practices in verses 26-29, a warning is given regarding the danger of assuming responsibility for someone else’s loan. The phrase “why should he take away thy bed from under thee?” points to the possibility of losing one’s possessions as a result.
Proverbs 23:10 admonishes against appropriating land from the fatherless. In Solomon’s era, it was customary for the next of kin to redeem land from a relative who could not afford to develop it, and the Hebrew word for “redeemer” in verse 11 indicates that God will be the substitute “kinsman” for orphaned landowners.
The Hebrew word for hell in verse 14 is sheol, meaning “the grave.” The inference in this verse is that proper discipline of a child can deter him from reckless choices and premature death.
Verses 19-21 warn against associating with drunkards or those who habitually over-indulge because their lifestyle leads to poverty and lethargy.
Verses 22-25 encourage a son to honor his parents and embrace instruction. Repeating the thought of verse 16, the author pointed out that the son who lives wisely and righteously brings joy to his parents.
A warning against sexual promiscuity is given in verses 27-28. Verses 29-35 describe the adverse physical, emotional, and mental effects of alcohol.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The sayings of the way of wisdom
B. The words of the wise
1. The introduction (22:17-21)
2. The counsel
a. Concerning oppression (22:22-23)
b. Concerning companions (22:24-25)
c. Concerning pledges (22:26-27)
d. Concerning boundaries (22:28)
e. Concerning skilled labor (22:29)
f. Concerning conduct as a guest (23:1-3)
g. Concerning wealth (23:4-5)
h. Concerning evil hospitality (23:6-8)
i. Concerning guarded speech (23:9)
j. Concerning boundaries (23:10-12)
k. Concerning discipline (23:13-14)
l. Concerning correct speech (23:15-16)
m. Concerning evil companions (23:17-21)
n. Concerning respect for parents (23:22-25)
o. Concerning immoral women (23:26-28)
p. Concerning wine (23:29-35)
It is wise to be cautious in our choice of companions. We will be influenced most by those we associate with most, so it is important to choose friends with characteristics we would like to develop in our own lives.