Solomon speaks of bribes today. He doesn’t call it right or wrong here, but most of us can easily classify it. “Justice for sale.” Beware, bondage awaits!
This is our last stand alone proverb for this chapter, or so it seems from the outline I skimmed in my bible helps. It surprises me that Solomon leaves this one hanging open. A little further on Solomon will take a stand again against bribes, as he did earlier in this book.
I would venture to say that nearly everyone knows that bribing someone is wrong. Even the one giving it knows this, otherwise it wouldn’t be done in secret. The one who receives it knows this as well too. But the giver loves the results of a bribe more than he fears the consequences. It’s “magic” at his fingertips, to ensure his desired outcome.
Bribery is addicting. Once the first bribe ‘works its magic’ it becomes easier to repeat the process. Bribery is also a trap. Once the first bribe is given the giver and receiver are trapped by their sin. The giver will be extorted for more money to guarantee the same result. Will every favorable result now cost him? What won’t he buy his way out of?
The receiver has proven that he can be bought and everything he does now is suspect. Was that ruling because of a bribe? How can he be trusted again? Will true justice ever come again from him?
Where everything is for sale nothing has true worth anymore. Imagine the child of a rich man who is continually granted freedom from his crimes by bribes. This ‘child’ values nothing but his own whims. Even the life of another if forfeit if it gets in his path. Every offense he commits is swept away. Every success he attains is with no effort on his part. The bribe did ALL the work for him. He learns NOTHING but how to cheat from this. He assumes that EVERYTHING is for sale, it just takes offering the right price.
Now see that same young man when his father’s money runs out or he comes up against a situation that he cannot buy his way out of. He has no idea how to handle the events any longer. His world crumbles before his eyes. His ‘power’ is gone. And he has no real skill to fall back on in his time of trouble.
The man receiving the bribe is just as bound up. He wants more but is afraid that which he has already gotten will be found out. He can’t openly use what he has received or others will get suspicious. He has to hide the very fact that ‘the fix is in’ when he makes rulings or judgement. And he will forever be under the heel of the one who bought him.
Whether the one who gives it knows it or not, he is also in bondage. Those who know of his actions will want ‘their cut’ to keep it quiet. Those who have witnessed his ‘prosperity’ will recognize a ‘stacked deck’ when they see it. All that he has will be suspect. They will correctly label him a thief.
There is NO honor or value of any decision obtained by a bribe. It WILL come back to bite you, eventually. Even if it has to wait until God requires atonement. It is NOT worth it to be on EITHER side of a bribe!
As children, my brothers and sisters used to try ‘bribing’ one another. Ours didn’t involve money. It involved freedom from punishment. “Nobody tells on nobody and nobody gets in trouble” was our favorite. This agreement worked as long as EVERYONE had committed a punishable offense. Those who wouldn’t be in trouble to begin with had no incentive to keep this agreement. My youngest sister was usually the one who offered up the report. But even she stopped when she got accused of being a ‘tattle tale’. She went so far as to tell my mom that we called her that. My mom told her that she was. That ended her ‘reports’ of our behavior.
Silly as this example seems, it hurt too. We all knew we were guilty, even at the time we made the pact. We learned that we could get away with things when our parents were out. So we sought our own interests instead of caring about one another. And it brought guilt that still picks at me sometimes. No. None of our offenses were really that big, from the eyes of an adult, but this pact perpetuated our bad behavior.
When I was raising my children I encouraged them to tell me everything that happened while I was away. It worked when they were younger but as they grew into teenagers there were many things that didn’t make themselves known to me. I occasionally hear about them from my middle son. Fortunately, the events that I missed were minor and didn’t cause lasting damage.
Bribery really isn’t magic in my book. It is bondage and deceit. It just looks like magic on the surface and that’s why it’s so tempting. “Black magic” is more like it. It stains the soul of all involved.
Father God, thank You that You don’t leave me wondering about Solomon’s intent. He didn’t say it here but I’ve seen the truth enough to KNOW that bribery is NOT sanctioned by You. I know I have already received Your forgiveness for my childhood version because I brought it to You and repented. I’m pretty sure I also brought it to my parents attention YEARS later and repented. If not, let them know how sorry I am for my part if they read this post. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, just avoid the trouble I rightly deserved. Thank You for protecting me and my brothers and sisters from real danger when my parents were out. We could have gotten SO MUCH MORE trouble if it weren’t for my parents’ lessons still restraining us in our hearts. AND Yours TOO!!!