What does Proverbs 13:20 mean? What does it mean to walk with wise men? The Bible promises us that if we walk with wise men, we will be wise too. So how do we walk with the wise?
To walk with wise men means to associate with and be in relationship with people who are wise. The result of walking with the wise is that you become wise as well. Who you surround yourself with will determine what kind of person you become, whether wise or foolish.
What Does Proverbs 13:20 Mean?
He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. Proverbs 13:20
Walking with wise men is referring to the type of people you choose to have around you in life . It is so important who you choose to surround yourself with. I believe it was Jim Rohn who said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Wow! I have also heard it said “show me who you hang around and I’ll show you your future”.
There is a reason that wise people hang around other wise people. Wise people like to increase their learning. They will not stay around foolish people for very long, and they certainly won’t do life with them.
Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge. Proverbs 14:7
A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, Proverbs 1:5
Who you choose to spend the most time with is crucial to who you will ultimately become. This is what Proverbs 13:20 is talking about. If you spend your life listening to wise people, you will also become wise. What a promise!
How to Know Who is Wise
How do you know who a wise person is? It’s not like people wear signs that say whether or not they are wise. Age, gender, or race cannot tell you if someone is wise. Economic or social status does not determine whether or not a person is wise.
Discernment is absolutely needed to determine if a person is truly wise or not. People can put on the appearance of wisdom and sound wise, but are actually quite foolish. A person is wise when they are a person who knows the Word of God and how to apply the Word of God. There is no wisdom apart from God.
There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord. Proverbs 21:30
My definition of wisdom is the ability to apply revelation of the Word of God to your life. This requires a relationship with the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Wisdom) who opens your spiritual eyes so that you can receive revelation of the Word of God.
In Matthew 7, Jesus describes a wise man as one who hears His words and does them. He contrasts this wise man with the foolish man who hears His sayings and does not do them. Jesus states that what makes a man wise is their choice to apply the Word to their life- to be a doer of the Word of God.
There are a lot of people who know Scripture. They could quote it all day long to you. But are they able to apply it to their life and see the victory? This is what makes a person wise. True wisdom only comes from the Spirit of God- the very Spirit of Wisdom.
It takes a little getting to know someone to perceive if they are wise or not. Here are some clues:
- Do they know Jesus (Wisdom personified) intimately?
- Do they apply the Word of God to their life?
- Are they doers of the Word of God?
- Do they live in the reality of the New Covenant/ finished work of Jesus?
- Do they think, talk, and act in agreement with the Word of God?
Thinking about these things will help you determine if a person is wise. It is possible for a person to be wise in one area and not another. Wisdom comes from revelation of the Word. It is possible to have revelation and wisdom in one area but not another.
The Bible tells us that wisdom is justified of her children (Luke 7:35). This means that the wisdom of an action will become evident in the outcome that action produces. You can look at a person’s actions and the outcome of those actions to determine if they are using wisdom.
It is important to note that there is a major difference between real wisdom from God and earthly, demonic wisdom. Without the Holy Spirit, you could be easily deceived because earthly wisdom can sound so wise. That is why we can never do without the Holy Spirit counseling us.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18
A wise person shows by their actions that their works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
We also see from this verse that if someone is self-seeking, they are not operating in true wisdom. If the ‘wisdom’ they are using is earthly and not spiritual, it is actually demonic according to this verse!
True wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. You can determine if a person is wise by the fruit of their life.
I wrote an entire article discussing how to discern who is wise. It is so important in these days to be able to recognize the wise from the foolish. You can read my article entitled Who is a Wise Man? 50 Ways to Recognize the Wise.
How to Walk with the Wise
What if you literally have no one in your life that is wise according to the Bible? This is a very valid question. Just because someone goes to Church or claims to be a Christian does NOT mean they are truly wise. There are Christians everywhere who would be classified fools by the book of Proverbs. If people are not applying the Word of God to their life and walking in victory because of the Word, they probably are not walking in much wisdom.
If you don’t have people in your circle of friends who the Bible considers wise, you can change that. You can actually walk with the wise without actually knowing any wise people first hand. You can do this by listening to audio recordings of teachings by wise people. You can read their books and watch their videos. You can learn to think like the wise think and act like they act by spending time with them through their teachings and books.
You can meditate on the Word of God and become wise. As you become wise, you will be able to recognize other wise people and begin to do life with them.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8
The whole book of Proverbs is written for the purpose of knowing wisdom and receiving the instruction of wisdom. I can not even communicate how valuable wisdom is. As you meditate on the wisdom contained in Proverbs, you are receiving wisdom and walking with the wise- learning to believe, think and act like the wise.
You will also need to limit your time walking with the unwise because the second half of Proverbs 13:20 says that the companion of fools will be destroyed. Please understand that this is not saying God will destroy those who are the companion of fools. It simply says they will be destroyed. Hosea 4:6 tells us that God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge… Hosea 4:6
When you walk with fools, or people devoid of wisdom, you will learn their ways. The people you hang around will corrupt your good habits.
Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits. 1 Corinthians 15:33
The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26
Benefits of Walking with the Wise
Proverbs 13:20 says that as you walk with the wise, you will become wise. You will begin to think like the wise, talk like the wise, and act like the wise.
The results of wisdom are amazing. Protection, good health, long life, prosperity, peace, honor, length of days, riches, happiness, blessing, and favor are just a few of them. I encourage you to read the book of Proverbs to discover the treasures of finding wisdom. Wisdom is the principal thing. Wisdom is what is needed more than anything else. Anything you could possibly want does not compare with wisdom.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Proverbs 3:13-15
In my own life, when I switched the type of people I was hanging around, my life began to get better and better. I began to soak up the wisdom of those around me who were walking by faith and applying the Word to their life. I listened to teachings of wise people non-stop until I began to obtain the wisdom they had. The way of life winds upward for the wise (Proverbs 15:24). As you commit to walking with the wise, your life will only get better!