Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners…
We are all of us naturally of such a social tendency that the influence of companionship is necessarily great. And this is so especially in youth. Moralists, like Cicero, have made friendship the theme of some of their purest teaching and counsel. Scripture tells us of Jonathan and David, and this Psalm gives a hint of the insidious gradations by which companionship attains its mastery over habit and character. Like a skilful angler "playing" a fish, so does a congenial associate attach us to his company. He draws the glamour of his power about us, till we become wholly his. At first we meet him from time to time, "walking in his counsels"; then we protract the interview, and invite ascendency as we "stand in his way"; and at length we capitulate to his domination as we "sit down in his seat." Now, if it be good to resist such influence in the case of the ungodly, it is equally good to yield to it in the case of the upright. Nothing more important than the choice of associates. Avoid such as —
I. DESIRE YOU RATHER AS THEIR PREY THAN THEIR FRIEND. They protest vehement friendship; there is nothing they will not do for you; all that they have is at your service. These are not safe men who overact their part in this way.
II. THE FOP AND ROUÉ. The plucking of pigeons has been an art studied and perfected by knaves of fashion in every age, and has flung filth upon escutcheons which had known no shame, and blasted many a prospect of a noble future.
III. THE EXTRAVAGANT. We find it easy to declare that poverty is no disgrace; yet it is rare to find amongst the young the moral hardihood which can say, "I can't afford it." In humbler life it is by tens of thousands, not by ones or twos, that you may count the well born and the well trained who have fallen, some into suicide, some into prisons, some to the gallows, all into disgrace by becoming companions of those who have tempted them into extravagance.
IV. BETTING MEN. The slowly rising pittance of the clerk will not let him keep pace with the expensive pleasures of his rich associate, and fraud and forgery are led up to by the sure pathway of the betting ring.
V. THE FLATTERER, the sponge, who desires only to exhaust your purse. The cynic too. He is a flatterer who has established his ascendency so completely that he can afford to be rude. You cannot make a friend of a bully.
VI. AND LET BOTH YOUNG MEN AND MAIDENS BE VERY CAREFUL OF THE COMPANIONSHIPS WHICH THEY FORM, ONE WITH THE OTHER. A young man will do well who makes an honourable union the goal of his industry; and let her whose troth is challenged have nought to do with one whose life is stained with an unmanly taint. Choose Christian friendships, for companionship is the leaven of our lives and solitude their bane. But there is no solitude to him who has learned to cancel it with pure thought and spiritual communion. Healthy literature, taste, art, music, come with votive offerings to him who lingers by their chastened altars. But the best friendship is that of those whose Master is Christ. When the disciples were let go they went to their own company. Go you to yours, and let it be the company which gathers round the Lord.
Parallel VersesKJV: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.