19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but fools detest turning from evil.
20 Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm.
In every area of life, the sweetness of fulfillment is commensurate to the degree of longing (cf. v.12). It is the hungriest person who most savors a good meal; the loneliest who most appreciates a warm embrace. Longing may be difficult, but without it there would be no satisfaction. One of the greatest obstacles to happiness, then, is the impulse to avoid longing. Temptation promises immediate fulfillment, offering counterfeits of what we truly desire – only to leave us worse off than we began. We must turn from this deceit, and forgo the trivialities of sin, if we ever hope to find true satisfaction.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” This principle also applies to the longing for genuine friendship. It is easy to surround yourself with fools, of whom there is no shortage, but in doing so you subject yourself to harm. They will pressure you into wicked schemes (10:23), rush into conflict (20:3), abandon their commitments (26:6), and resist all attempts to help them (27:22). It will take some trouble to seek out and befriend the wise, but it is well worth it, as they are on the path of life (15:24).