To understand who Solomon is writing about in this verse, let’s read Proverbs 4:14, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.”  To add to that thought, let’s also read Proverbs 1:10, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”  Proverbs 1:29 says these people hated knowledge.  Verse 30 says they would not accept the council of God.  Several times in this important book, we are warned not to be a part of the ways of the wicked.  Verse 31 says, “Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.”  Their way was not the Lord’s way, and the end of them would be destruction.  We later read in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

So, the words of Proverbs 4:17 are a warning against these wicked and evil men…sinners.  Proverbs 4:16-17 tells us, “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.”  In their wickedness, these people cannot even sleep unless they can lay their head down thinking of the violent things they had done that day.  If they should happen to fall asleep, they cannot rest unless they can think about how they caused someone to stumble in their journey with the Lord.  The bread they eat was gained from wicked works.  The wine they enjoy was gained through acts of violence.  Perhaps in stealing their bread and wine, they assaulted and injured an innocent party.  In this, they would be glad.  For a season, these people are able to enjoy the gain of their wicked works.  However, it will not last.

Proverbs 4:18-19 assures us, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.”  The presence of the just (righteous) enlightens, instructs, edifies, and causes others to rejoice.  They carry light into every place by their example, and by their instructions.  The wicked, on the other hand, are always in darkness.  Not only do they stumble, but their darkness is so great, they cannot even tell what they stumbled over.  Let’s compare this portion to what we read in Psalm 1:3-4, “And he (the righteous) shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”  The righteous are stable and produce fruit for the Lord.  However, “The ungodly are not so.”  They are blown away like the chaff until there is nothing left.

In seeing the wicked prosper, David asked the Lord in Psalm 94:3, “LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?”  To David, it did not seem fair that the evil ones should live luxuriously because of their wicked means.   Perhaps this should cause us to reflect on how little the Lord values the riches of this world.  Perhaps this should cause us to reconsider how much we dwell on and desire the riches of this world.  Let’s read Job 20:4-5, “Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?”  The day will come when those who find their pleasure in their wickedness and their joy in worldly gain, that it will all come to naught.  However, may we, as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ follow the instruction of Colossians 3:1-3, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  (189.7)