Getting in the Wrong Crowd

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” (Proverbs 1:10).
“Wisdom calls out in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy street she cries out, in the gateway of the city she makes her speech” (Proverbs 1:20,21).
What a surprise (or is it, really?) to learn that young Israelites in ancient days tended to be drawn into the wrong crowd! Solomon could have just as easily been addressing a modern church youth group!
Folly is not just an individual matter, but a social one as well. We travel in groups, whether it’s a bunch of the guys in the locker room, colleagues in the boardroom or a street gang. The young Israelite did not live in isolation. While his parents might have been an influence for good, they were not the only influence out there.
This is even truer today, given the mobility of the automobile and the Internet. There are so many voices clamoring for their attention.
The background is urban (wisdom calls out in the streets, not the country lanes!). Israelites had been uprooted from the relative safety of rural life and had been thrust into a city, with all its temptations. The usual urban illnesses such as street gangs and drugs were present in ancient Jerusalem, just as they are in modern Johannesburg, Los Angeles or Dallas.
Can you imagine the ancient Israelite parent asking the same questions modern parents ask? “Where are you going? How late will you be? Who will you be with?” And like any good parent, the Israelite parent might help the teenager scratch beneath the surface of a situation to see the temptations and the dangers within. He tries to pull the veil away to reveal the threat of evil companions, heavy drinking, or violence.
Some things never change. Teenagers were naive thirty centuries ago. And parents needed to be the adults then, too. The temptations have not ceased. Ensure that the parental guidance has not ceased, either.

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