Proverbs 4:17

For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.


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Some people feed on wickedness. It is their diet. They get anxious and irritable, when they cannot sin and hurt other people. They have no pleasure in righteousness, for it does not satisfy their cravings for mischief and harm. They invent evil things, for their minds are always working to take advantage of others (Rom 1:30). The world has many such people, and a wise man will make great efforts to avoid them and their ways (Pr 4:14-17).

The Bible is a figurative book, often using figures of speech and words in secondary senses. It is a spiritual book, but often expresses itself by natural words. There are two metaphors in the proverb, which can be converted to similes. The proverb then reads, “They commit wickedness like eating bread, and they love violence like drinking wine.” The previous proverb indicates this form of the metaphors is to be chosen (Pr 4:16).

The heart of a wicked man is never content – he looks forward to his next sin. He cannot rest easily or sleep contentedly, because he enjoys mischief and causing others to fall (Pr 4:16). His nature craves iniquity and trouble, like other men crave bread and wine. His appetite, inherited from Adam, is for sin and rebellion, not righteousness and peace. The wicked go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies (Ps 58:3; Rom 3:9-19).

What causes such depravity? Men are born in the likeness of their father Adam (Gen 5:3). They are born dead toward God, but alive toward the devil (Eph 2:1-3). He was a destroyer and murderer, and they follow his example and impulses (John 8:44). They are fools in love with malice and wickedness: they are hateful, and they hate one another (Titus 3:3). They are past feeling, and they greedily pursue lasciviousness (Eph 4:17-19).

David loved Solomon, and Solomon loved Rehoboam. Both fathers exhorted their sons to get wisdom, for it is the most important acquisition in life, and it would bring many blessings on their lives (Pr 4:1-13). They went further and warned strictly about the grave danger of having evil friends or companions (Pr 4:14-17). David and Solomon knew that evil friends could easily corrupt their sons’ good manners (Pr 9:6; 13:20; I Cor 15:33).

What is the lesson? Stay far away from such persons! Consider Solomon’s words. He wrote, “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” (Pr 4:14-15). Look at his words! There is no room for any compromise with these kind of wicked persons. You cannot even go near them. You must be intolerant of them, their ideas, and their practices. They will corrupt your good manners and take you down to destruction and hell with them. Stay away!

Reader, you are no different from these cursed souls by nature. You were born just like them, and you lived just like them, until you were born again by the grace and power of God (Eph 2:1-3; Titus 3:3-7). Eliphaz said of you and all men, “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16.) Only the Lord Jesus Christ can save a man from his horribly depraved nature (Rom 7:24-25).