Turn From the Way of Evil
Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PRCS, Walker, MI
Proverbs 4:14-17: “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.”
Solomon has just urged his listener to hold fast to godly instruction because it is life, the true spiritual life of fellowship with God. However, what happens once Solomon’s school is out for the day and the student goes his own way; what then? Solomon is not naive but is very aware of what awaits his young listener.
Solomon understands the world is not basically good, with its inhabitants desiring to live virtuous lives of harmony, peace and self-improvement. The world is not neutral so one can influence it for the better by one’s own good example. Solomon has observed life and has discerned the dominance of the paths of the wicked and the ways of evil men. The deeply rutted path, the path whose soil is compacted by many footfalls so there is no longer any vegetation, the path which is wide to accommodate large numbers of travellers does not lead to heaven. The heavenly path is strait, narrow and relatively unpopulated. The broad way, whose many travellers raise a cloud of dust as they pass, is the path of destruction.
Solomon leaves no doubt as to the character of those on the path. This path belongs to the wicked and the evil. Solomon does his listener a service by carefully describing whose path this is because appearances are deceiving. The sole occupants of the path are not the dregs of society. They are not a motley crew dressed in rags. The path does not flow with blood because of murder and violence. We do not hear screams of terror or the tumult of fighting. These people appear quite normal, perhaps even pleasant. We would hear the murmur of pleasant conversation and laughter among friends.
Yet these people are wicked and evil. Although they would claim to be good people, and their companions would concur, God declares them to be wicked. They are not moral in the biblical sense of the word. They do not seek the glory of God, nor are they interested in serving Him. Their outward keeping of God’s law does not please Him because their deeds do not originate from hearts where faith resides. Although they may feel some regret for some of their past actions, they do not confess, repent and seek forgiveness for their sins. They do not extol the God of salvation in Jesus Christ who saves His people by grace alone.
What is Solomon’s listener to do? Solomon does not direct his son to sit in a little corner with a little book. He is not to hike to the top of a distant hill and live an ascetic life. The son knows the wicked path exists because he lives as a member of society and, as a result, must interact with the wicked as he makes his living, but he is not even to enter that path in fellowship.
Solomon understands the organic nature of sin. Sin grows. Unless we quickly repent and recognize the nature of the way we have just entered, we all too easily continue on the path of the wicked and are swept along with the evil. Do not imagine one may only go down the path a certain distance, only just so far, then quickly and effortlessly return to God’s way. Solomon knows life does not work that way. One must avoid the wicked way as one had to avoid those unclean with leprosy. Just pass by. Solomon knows the weakness of the flesh. A curious glance at the evil way too often arouses sinful longing for abandoning the restricted way of God, the constant denying of the flesh through self-sacrifice. Remember, Lot’s wife took a forbidden, yet longing, look back at the way of evil. Solomon knows the danger of us imagining ourselves to be stronger than we are. Turn from that evil way and pass by it.
We must turn from the evil way because of the nature of those who walk it. An often overlooked necessity of life is sleep. We do not appreciate sleep as we should until it becomes illusive. Then we know its value. Solomon teaches that the wicked will not sleep until they have done mischief. When the wicked lays his head on his pillow, he does not investigate his life and ask whom he has helped that day. He will not sleep unless he has done mischief, to make someone good for nothing or do them harm. He would never seek to help a companion develop a closer life with God. His goal is the opposite.
They have to make someone fall. To see someone upright in their walk with God is intolerable to them. Such a person must be brought down. Get the crowd to entice the upright to join with them. Exhibit the fun and good times available if the upright would just let their hair down for once. Join us and there are opportunities to advance socially and materially. They lie as did their spiritual father, the source of lies.
Bread is the staple of life, basic necessary food. The world’s bread is wickedness. They feed off of it. It sustains their ungodly lives. They must have their wickedness or life is finished. That is not the company Solomon would have his son join.
Wine is a luxury, an added delight when enjoyed properly. Violence is like wine to those who are evil: a bit extra to be enjoyed when opportunity arises. They enjoy as a sweet treat the use of underhanded, subtle dealings to enrich themselves materially or delve more deeply into depravity.
May God give us and our children discretion to turn from the way of evil, and the wisdom we need to walk in fellowship with Him and His saints.