God’s word should be carefully read and followed. It is intended to direct us to the safety of His care and keeping, and away from the danger of "the way of evil." One instance of this is Proverbs 4:14-19.
4:14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
4:15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
4:16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
4:19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
One prominent issue in the book of Proverbs is influence; in particular, associating with people who have the capacity and desire to lead us away from safety and into the danger of "the wicked." This passage is concerned with this issue of life – the temptations and seductions that can come our way through people who live without regard to God’s wisdom. And this passage begins with a prohibition: Do Not Enter, or as the young people might express it: Don’t Go There.
People who are dedicated to their own selfish interests, who aspire to nothing godly and who have no regard for the truth are walking down a pathway we must determine to avoid. And to emphasize this the passage says, with some alarm and urgency: "Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on." (This is similar to my wife’s verbal warning mentioned above.) The wisdom we need in life we will not get in the way of evil or the path of the wicked. As we "drive" through the traffic of life, we need to watch carefully. God has placed these signs for our benefit: Do Not Enter.
What kind of people occupy this pathway? "For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall." All of us know people and we are associated with people who do not share our faith; are not members of the Lord’s church, and who may do some things we do not approve of. In this passage, these people do not sleep unless they have done evil; and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall! These are people determined to do evil; determined to get others to do evil. The warning sign says Do not enter.
Who are these people? "For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence." Their menu is wickedness and violence. They consume and they live on wickedness and violence. So avoid them — turn away from them. Do not enter.
If I should avoid association with these people and refuse to enter in their path, who should I associate with? What pathway should I seek? "The path of the just is the like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble." Just as dark as the way of the wicked is – the path of the just is light, "like the shining sun." This contrast is designed to help us distinguish between the path of the just and the way of the wicked. The message regarding the way of the wicked is simple: Do not enter. Give heed to the warning before you make a wrong turn.