Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. (15) Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. (16) For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. (17) For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.Proverbs 4:14-17
In verses 11-13 the father is pleading with his son to choose the “way of wisdom” and the “right paths”. In verses 14-15 he is pleading with his son not to go down the “path of the wicked” nor the “way of evil men”. Notice he’s using the same verbiage- ways and paths. But now He’s talking about avoiding those wrong paths. The best time to deal with this kind of sin and temptation is at the beginning, before it ever starts. He tells him to avoid these ways and paths in verse 15. The idea is to not even get close to their direction.
Why? Because in verse 16 and 17 he gives several of the repercussions of going down their path.
- They sleep not.
- Their sleep is takin away.
- They eat the bread of wickedness.
- They drink the wine of violence.
At first glance one may think that the interpretation of these verses is that those who go down the path of evil feel guilty and are therefore robbed of sleep. But upon further examination this cannot be the case. They are robbed of sleep because they are addicted to the scheming of evil deeds and the pleasure in carrying those evil deeds out. They “consume the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence”. One commentator explained it this way,
“Fearful self-preservation at the expense of others has become the necessary condition of their existence. “Till [i.e., unless] they make [somebody] stumble” clarifies that their malicious plans involve weakening and/or plundering their victims, preparing the way for Pro_4:17. As the wicked refresh themselves at night with evil plans, so by day they nourish themselves in their execution.”(Waltke)
There are certain paths one goes down where the repercussions are lasting and difficult to flee. It is for these reasons that the father pleads with his son to avoid those roads entirely.
Let’s summarize what it looks like to heed the fathers warning to avoid the path of the wicked and the way of evil men.
Choose your relationships wisely. The old saying goes, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” There is much wisdom in that saying. We ought to be kind to everyone, but close in relationship only to those who will point us in the way of wisdom and down the right path.
The right time to choose the right path is right now. You and I will always be able to find the wrong kind of opportunities. It is important that we avoid that path, and choose the right one now. If you are on the wrong path, repentance is the answer. Turn around! Go back! Choose the way of wisdom right now.
- 1. What path are you on?
- 2. What relationship should you end?
- 3. What relationship should you pursue?
Waltke, Bruce. “The New International Commentary of the Old Testament.” Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004. E-Sword.