Proverbs 12:26 The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them. (KJV)
Pro 12:26 The righteous person is cautious in his friendship,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (NET Bible)
Pro 12:26 You are better off to do right, than to lose your way by doing wrong. (CEV, Contemporary English Bible)
Pro 12:26 A righteous person looks out for his neighbor, but the path of wicked people leads others astray. (God’s Word translation)
Pro 12:26 The righteous searcheth his companion, And the way of the wicked causeth them to err. (Young’s Literal Translation)
Proverbs 12:26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (NIV, New International Version, 1984)
One of my study Bibles had a footnote about Proverbs 12:26. It said something like “the meaning of the Hebrew text is uncertain.”
That may be one underlying reason for the varied way Proverbs 12:26 has been translated into English.
I think the point of this proverb is that the righteous person searches very carefully for the right people to be close friends with. He has to be careful because friendship with a wicked person may lead the righteous person astray.
You must seek the right friends in the right places. Just because a friend goes to church is not sufficient grounds for close friendship. You must seek out mature Christians that are firmly grounded in God’s Word through habits of regular personal Bible study (not merely reading). Seek friends who are focused on continuing to grow in their relationship with Christ.
If you attend a Bible-teaching, Bible-believing church that has a young adult or college and career age Sunday school class or youth group, that may be the best place to find Christian friends and a future marriage partner.
If you, yourself, are not solidly grounded in your Christian faith, you will benefit greatly by consistently taking steps to reach that goal. The first step in doing that is to read God’s Word enough to make a difference in your life. Research shows that reading the Bible four or more days a week is the key. I think it best to read God’s Word every day. Begin by reading the New Testament through from Matthew to Revelation several times. For me, I saw the light during my third time through. When I was in high school, I told my friends “Three chapters a day keeps the Devil away.” Well, that may not be the most accurate way to suggest that you read enough of the Bible to make a difference in your life, but it surely is a good start.
I also benefited by reading individual Bible books through repeatedly. I especially liked the shorter letters of Paul, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.
I read the book of Proverbs regularly, reading the chapter number that corresponded with that day’s date, so finishing the book once a month. I also read the book of Psalms.
When you get into God’s Word deeply enough, you will learn what His will is about many things. That will guide your life along the right path so you don’t end up making too many foolish mistakes. But even if you have made some mistakes along the way, God is a forgiving God. Repent, and ask Him for forgiveness, and for the strength and wisdom to not continue to go astray in the future.