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The Wicked Cannot Sleep Until They Have
Quenched Their Desire to Do Wrong
Proverbs 4:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
For they eat the bread of wickedness: Yes, the wicked seem to sustain themselves on evil deeds. Doing what is evil is like food to the wicked one. They are incapable of sleeping unless they engage in acts of wrongdoing to the point of causing another to stumble. Their very nature is depraved! Can you really safeguard your heart while in association with them?
And drink the wine of violence: “The metaphor of ingesting food and drink is used to indicate the deeply engrained wickedness of the wicked. Again, doing what is evil is like wine to the wicked one. How foolish to walk on “the path of the wicked” or “walk in the way of evil men” (vs 14) by exposing ourselves to the violence of their companionship, the violence of their mindset! Endeavoring to be tenderly compassionate utterly is not harmonious with taking in the thinking of these wicked ones by thinking that you can convert him to the faith through your association. When a clean glove and a dirty glove come into contact with each other, the dirty glove rubs off on the clean glove, not the other way.
Solomon makes it all too clear to his son; he must cling to this instruction as if it is a life preserver. Solomon goes into a bit of an outburst of warning to get the point across that the path of the evil one is filled with sin, vile acts, and violence. How many different ways can he stress the need to avoid that path? These ones are so deplorable that they “cannot sleep unless they have done wrong.” The righteous one is very foolish if he believes that he can walk on the path of the wicked one, and at the same time, keep his heart pure. Feeding his mind, entertaining his thinking with, and cultivating violence will only lead to sin and death. Imagine walking on the railing of the Niagara Falls, and that is what it is like even considering the idea of entering the path of the wicked.
All the wicked eat and drink is gotten by taking it from those who are weaker and through the oppression of others. The wicked do not feel they are wasting their life by hurting others. They are dedicated to their pursuit of the innocent foolish. If only the righteous man would be as dedicated to do good. Let the wisdom that the righteous have been taught not go in one ear and out the others, but instead, be implanted on their heart and mind to avoid the wicked at all costs.
It is very scandalous, disgraceful, immoral, shameful; for there is no mental disposition in the history of the fallen world that is more devious, scheming, deceitful in human imperfection than the biblical wicked (active opposition to God). The wicked have long been serving Satan as the greatest enemy to human society, in opposition to God, made in the image of Satan, working on behalf of his interests. They take great pleasure in harming others, ruining as many as possible. In summary of 4:16-17, what makes the wicked one’s path so dangerous is that they live in Satan’s world where sin is normalized and presented as good, while moral values and good are viewed as outdated and bad. Do not be deceived, do not be lured in because their end is eternal destruction.
 John H Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 476.