I hope that by this point in this series you are really starting to develop some separation between the ways of the wicked and the ways of the righteous. I know that I am. It’s getting easier and easier for me to visualize the wicked. Especially in this passage.

“They cannot sleep unless they cause harm…they eat bread gained from wickedness and drink wine obtained from violence.” I don’t know what kind of images that conjures up in your mind, but for me I get this image in my mind…

It’s a dark night. The streets are still wet from the rain earlier. Two jerks, Jack and Jake are out roaming the streets. They get hungry. They take a turn down a dark alley where they encounter a plus-sized-chef named Lou (it’s his diner) taking a smoking break on the back step of his restaurant that leads out to the dumpster. Remy is there to observe the whole thing as it goes down. Two jerks decide they want to get dinner for free from Lou, and start bullying him a bit. At first it’s all in good-fun, but the more Lou resists, the more they want the food. One thing leads to another and Lou ends up in the dumpster with Remy and his family. The two men go into the kitchen, eat the food he had been cooking for the customers. Jack takes the first bite, drinks from the bottle of wine and then looks over to Jake. Jake looks back, toasts Jack with his own bottle while slipping him the shiv with his other hand. Jake, cleans the shiv, walks out of the restaurant into the black of the night as the neon from Lou’s carry out sign fades into the background.

Isn’t that what comes to your mind?

Proverbs 4:14-19

Do not enter the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of those who are evil.
Avoid it, do not go on it;
turn away from it, and go on.
For they cannot sleep unless they cause harm;
they are robbed of sleep until they make someone stumble.
For they eat bread gained from wickedness
and drink wine obtained from violence.
But the path of the righteous is like the bright morning light,
growing brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like gloomy darkness;
they do not know what causes them to stumble.

But the path of the righteous is exactly the opposite of the tale of Jake. There are no dark alleys, no questionable chefs and no shivs. As we gain in our righteousness, the light shining on our path becomes brighter and brighter – just as if we were walking in the middle of the day. The way of the wicked is so dark that when they stumble they don’t know what caused them to stumble.

Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom without turning on the light? When you walk without the light, you have no idea what’s on the floor. You just hope you remembered to pick up the legos the night before. But if you step on something – even if you look to see what it was – you won’t be able to see it unless you turn on a light. (Or unless it’s a kids toy that has lights and plays “Old MacDonald  at 105 decibles and wakes up the whole house. You know the kind of toy that doesn’t have a shut-off switch and you have no choice but to let the song play out. And you find yourself desperately running to stuff the toy into the stack of sweaters on the top shelf of your closet.)

When it’s dark, you can’t see what you might stumble on until you’ve already stumbled. Walking in the way of the wise is like choosing to turn on the lights. At the beginning it may be the equivalent of keeping a flashlight on your nightstand, but over time it will be like walking in the bright morning light.