There are times in life when it just seems like bad people seem to being doing so much better than the good people in this world. It seems like evil just runs rampant and we cannot seem to regain the ground we have lost. In those moments when we begin to ponder how easily things seem to be going for those bent on doing wrong, we almost wonder why things can't be that easy for us, getting ourselves all worked up into this frenzy we call envy. It is amazing what we can get worked up over - stuff we probably don't want to be involved in anyway, but because we see some advantage to the other guy, we get ourselves all in a twitter about the issue. Evil people cannot help us stay on the right path - in fact, they can even get us off it without even trying very hard simply because our tendency is to follow what moves our feelings rather than what keeps our spirit on the up and up. To get caught up in the talk and the ruckus of their madness is to end up in a truly danger place.
Don’t envy bad people; don’t even want to be around them. All they think about is causing a disturbance; all they talk about is making trouble. (Proverbs 24:1-2 MSG)
As we consider today's principle, let's keep in mind what Solomon is attempting to get across to each of us as he pens these principles - it is the "soundness" of a safe foundation for our lives which will keep us on the up and up. When he tells us not to envy bad people or even desire to be around them, it is because he doesn't want us to become corrupted by their way of thinking, acting, speaking, etc. They are "pot stirrers" and as such, they delight in getting people "stirred up", but not for the right reasons. It is good to get our "juices flowing" once in a while over some issues, especially if there is evidence of being off-track and needing to get things corrected. When we are just getting caught up in the manipulative plotting of those bent on making life a little more complicated, we might just do well to turn away and run as fast as we can.
The type of people we are warned against are those whose hearts plot evil - they have an end in mind which only furthers their intentions. One of the clues we are given as to how to be sure we are not falling into the traps of the evil around us is to evaluate their words. All their talk appears to gravitate toward the culmination of their plotted evil. Now, we all know how deceptive words can be, so we cannot simply take words at face value, but they can be one of the indicators which give us a sense of warning that this is not the crowd we want to be keeping company with. Why is it so important to not hang with this crowd? It is because of the "herd effect" of this type of negativity and wayward bent. You see, we get "caught up" in the way they are moving simply because they have a way of almost "stampeding" those around them. They take off running and those who don't realize the misdirection of their path can easily be caught up in the "running" and just follow suit.
Really, this passage deals with two things - knowing the hearts of those we companion with and not being swayed by the words which play on our emotions and get us into movement without really thinking through what it is we are moving toward. We have to be certain as to the heart intentions of those we companion with - there is this principle taught in scripture of being "equally yoked". To be equally yoked, two oxen were placed side by side in the yoke. Together they plowed the field. If one was too strong, or given to being too lazy, that one would constantly be pulling against the other and the fields would not get plowed. The farmer would work way too hard just controlling the animals to get the plowing done! When we "partner" with another in relationship, we often find ourselves "working" in some direction. If there is too much stubbornness on one's part, or perhaps a propensity to allow another to do the work, one of us will become disillusioned with the other and begin to regret the choices we have made. So, evaluating who it is we "step into the yoke" with will save us a lot of regret down the road. Just sayin!