Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
Precious advice! Reject foolish friends and influences! Life, a blessed and peaceful life pleasing God and men, depends on it. Get away from all fools. Go in the way - choose the lifestyle - of understanding. Pursue a holy and righteous life, and let no one hinder or tempt you in any other direction. Your survival, and your family's, is at stake. Foolish friends will take you down. See the comments on 4:15; 5:8; 13:20; 19:27; and 25:5.
Lady Wisdom's first piece of advice, after offering a fabulous home and feast for simple men, is to forsake fools and choose the way of wisdom (Pr 9:1-5). The single best thing you can do for yourself is to cut off fools and their evil influence. Bad company will drag you down and destroy your life, no matter how strong you think you are. If you want to live, really live, get away from fools, and choose a godly life of wisdom and understanding.
It is a simple concept - foolish influences corrupt good manners (I Cor 15:33). Yet Paul had to warn, "Be not deceived." Your heart, agreeing with Satan to destroy you, will justify foolish influences. He whispers, "They will not affect you," or, "You should not be unfriendly," or, "Everyone is doing it, and they're okay," or worst of all, "You might influence them for good." You may be trying to justify foolish influences at this moment!
Consider Lot. He didn't fear Sodom's influence. The better job was worth the risk. He and his family would be okay. After all, he was Abraham's nephew. He chose a house near Sodom; then he moved into the city; then he joined the city council; then he let three daughters marry local men. He didn't forsake the foolish at all. They destroyed him, his wife, and all five daughters. What a disgraceful and wicked waste of seven lives!
Consider Rehoboam. He was Solomon's son and the object of many proverbs. But he rejected his father's wise counselors and chose college buddies for advice. Did it affect his life? In just one generation, he lost his father's great nation and its glorious prosperity, as ten of Israel's tribes rejected him and formed a new nation. What a disgusting waste!
Consider Jehoshaphat. A descendant of David and a great king of Judah, he chose to be a friend to Ahab, the pagan and profane king of Israel. He let his son marry Ahab's daughter. This union with a compromising and wicked man cost him blessings and peace in his reign, for the Lord was angry with him for the relationship. And the Lord tore three of his descendants out of the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ for the ungodly alliance.
Here is the issue for you! What is your Sodom? Who are your counselors? Who is your Ahab? Have you rejected all fools in your neighborhood, in the schools for your children, in your profession or employment, in your church, and in your and your wife's social contacts? Any friend or influence not equal to or greater in holiness and wisdom than you will eventually drag you down to their level. Guaranteed! Do not lie to yourself!
How do you choose friends? David chose them this way: "I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts" (Ps 119:63). And again, "A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person" (Ps 101:4). He was very selective in his friends. Are you? Of course, you will have fewer friends this way, but that saves time and bother! Who needs extra friends, especially when they are destroying you!
All your friends are Christians? Really? How selective! Fully one-third of the earth is Christian. Does that make them all lovers of truth and wisdom? Religious people falsely accused Jesus and crucified Him! Your standards are way, way too low! Real Christians live holy lives of self-denial, do not like earthly things, believe exactly what Paul taught, and are spiritually minded (Titus 2:11-14; Phil 3:18-19; Rom 16:17-18; 8:5-9).
What about television? Do you read wisdom in the morning, blasting foolishness, and then watch it in the evening? David said, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me" (Ps 101:3). A television is morally neutral - when it is off! It is a damnable device of hell - when it is on! There is hardly one minute of programming on any channel that Lady Wisdom would endorse.
The very best television programming is godless, void of wisdom, and glorifying a false philosophy of humanism, hopelessness, and carnality. The evil message spewing from its images and sounds destroys souls - especially vulnerable children mesmerized by its total captivation of their eyes and ears. The most "wholesome" programming never promotes faith, godliness, marriage, prayer, doctrine, spirituality, truth, fathers, the Bible, etc.
The influence of the foolish can be subtle. Foolish friends apparently getting away with sin dull your hatred for it; their lack of spiritual conversation represses yours; and their cheerful encouragement for you to join them creates a strong temptation. Television presentations of a godless and carnal lifestyle numb your sensitivity to spiritual thinking and holy living. The powerful audio-video glorification of sin greatly excites your lusts.
What about your church? Most churches today use folly to keep the children, soothe the unregenerate, and increase attendance and cash flow. Is every word from the pulpit, and every activity of the church, defendable by Scripture alone? If it is not, then you are choosing folly even in your religion. Evil communications corrupt good manners there as well as anywhere (I Cor 15:33). Measured by an effeminate manual from denominational headquarters, your church may pass as wise. But if by the Word of God, it well may not!
Parent, would you let your child spend the night with a serial child molester and murderer? You resent even the question! But Lady Wisdom right here warns you that foolish influences will destroy their lives. Do you see the danger? Their souls are far more important than their bodies! How can you let them choose their own friends, listen to their own music, select their own spouse, or have a television in their room?
The danger is clear! The fork in the road is right before you! To the left is the wide-open gate that leads to hell. Everyone else is entering that gate with laughter and a great community spirit - and they call for you to travel with them. To the right is a very restrictive and confining gate that leads to life. Hardly anyone at all is entering that gate, and they seem unusually sober and grave about it. Run for it, reader! And run through it!
Your heart is desperately wicked and lies to you more than you know (Jer 17:9). Without God's grace and diligent care, you will default to folly and sin. But exposing yourself to folly in any form is certain disaster. It will take you down! Instead, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Rom 13:14). Pure religion before God is to keep yourself unspotted from the world (Jas 1:27).