Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
14 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.
18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
“Solomon pointed his son, as David had pointed him, away from the path of the godless. “Stay out!” he said. “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men” (Proverbs 4:14). “Stay away!” he said. “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (4:15). All too often we ignore this excellent counsel. Thanks to our fallen nature, we often find evil to be much more attractive than good is. Sin is contagious; goodness isn’t. Health is not contagious. Many diseases are either infectious, contagious, or both. We can all too easily catch a disease, but we cannot catch health. A person who has cancer cannot be cured by being around an athlete. Dirt is conveyed by contact; cleanliness is not. Some time ago a friend of mine was hospitalized with infectious hepatitis. Before I went to see him, I asked my doctor to give me a protective inoculation. Because this particular disease is so virulent, he refused and advised me to stay away. “We doctors,” he said, “have to expose ourselves to this infection because it is our duty to do so. I never advise anyone else to do the same. Stay out! Stay away!” That doctor’s medical advice was the same as Solomon’s spiritual advice. The Lord Jesus emphasized the same principle when He taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
“Generations of parents have tried to communicate the same message to their children. (b) The Description (4:16-17) In the description of the path of the godless we are told what disturbs the wicked man: “They sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall” (Proverbs 4:16). One of the extraordinary features of sin is that it compels the sinner to involve someone else in his evil. Sin hates goodness. When I was in the British army I was stationed for two years on Haifa docks in a small detachment of about twenty men. My lifestyle greatly irritated my superior officer. What seemed to irk him most was my refusal to drink even one glass of beer. All the other fellows drank and some of them, including the officer, were almost confirmed drunkards. The officer had many fine qualities and when he was sober we were good friends. He was considerably older than I was. A hardened career soldier of wide experience, he was a native cockney with all the wit and shrewdness of a Londoner from the East End. But he did everything in his power to get me to drink. Once he even offered me his pay for three months if I would just get drunk once! Whatever made him think that I could be bought so cheaply, I don’t know. Drink was abhorrent to me. If he had offered me his pay for ten years, it would not have tempted me. Not that I was perfect, of course. Like anyone else, I was vulnerable elsewhere.
“The point is, my determined sobriety troubled this man’s conscience. He lost sleep while he plotted to drag me down to his level. All the time I knew him, he never stopped probing for some weakness he could exploit. He would argue shrewdly along the lines of radical unbelief. He would bring up what he considered to be lewd passages in the Bible and parade them before me in search of an argument. He also had a vast fund of dirty stories, suggestive poems, and vile limericks he used to recite, trying to get me to laugh. Admittedly some of them were outrageously funny. He would watch me keenly as he told the stories and would be delighted if he detected so much as the barest involuntary twitch of my lips. I concluded after nearly two years of temptation that my fall would be a prize feather in his cap. The Lord protected me, however, and made me invulnerable. I have always been grateful for the horror of drink my father instilled in me. I have pondered too the officer’s relentless attempts to undermine my resistance. Solomon certainly was drawing the officer’s portrait in Proverbs 4:16. Proverbs 4:17 tells us what delights the wicked man: “For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.” Bread and wine were the staples of life in Bible times, a man’s necessary food. So Solomon was saying that an evil person finds sin and wickedness as natural and necessary to his lifestyle as food and drink.”
Dr John Phillips – Explore the Books