You could translate this verse like this: “The person that walks or travels with the wise and prudent in heart will himself become a person of wisdom and understanding; but the person that keeps company with and associates with self-confident fools will himself be destroyed and suffer great personal harm.”
I’ll tell you, if there is one thing that we have done that has drawn the ire of Christians over the years, it is stick to the wisdom of this proverb. I don’t quite understand why many believers feel like they have the grace or ability to ignore this scripture or expect a different result, but they do and to their great personal peril. There is something about the company you keep that speaks volumes about you. What you tolerate and excuse in the company you keep ultimately catches up with you. Foolish people do foolish things and if you are a companion of one, you might be around to see them reap what they sow!
This was illustrated very clearly to me in an experience I had when I was a teenager.
I had a friend growing up as a kid. We were inseparable and did everything together. When we were both in our late teenage years, I had a profound encounter with the Lord that changed my life forever and I got really serious about the Lord. Over the weeks and months following, I suddenly had little in common with my best buddy, but we tried to stick it out and hang out whenever we could. He loved the Lord, but wasn’t going hard after God. Several months later, a mutual friend came to visit and we spent the weekend together with him. We all got in the car to go somewhere and my once best buddy was showing off at the wheel. He began racing up and down a little country road, trying to get air over a hill. I begged and pleaded with him from the back seat to knock it off and drive safely. He laughed me off and did the jump again, accelerating as fast as he could. We hit the jump, flew into the air and completely missed the road, crashing into a tree and totaling the car!
We emerged from the wreck a little bumped and bruised but I walked away resolved to stick to this verse! I saw that simply associating with people of questionable character could cost me my life! Trust me; you DO NOT want to be there when your idiot friends reap the consequences of their foolish behavior!
“Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." – I Corinthians 15:33
Good can rub off on you. Stupid can too.