A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers. Proverbs 17:8
At first glance, I was confused as to the meaning of this verse when I read it several mornings ago.
I do know what it doesn’t mean.
It does not mean that bribery is a good thing. It may be an easy means to an end in the eyes of the one who is offering the bribe, but that doesn’t make it right in God’s eyes of course. Verse 23 of the same chapter makes that clear.
So, I’ll take it at face value. As a statement of fact. Bribery works. Like a magic stone. One might say it “works like a charm!” To the one who bribes, the sorcerer’s magic wand. It is flashy. Impressive. Powerful. Bedazzling. It’s a ticket to worldly pleasures and treasures.
This verse represents the same idea in a more general way, too. Immorality is easy. It works. Telling lies to stay out of trouble averts a consequence. Stealing rather than working makes sleeping in every morning a very attractive possibility. Things hum along quite nicely if moral constraints aren’t an issue.
It’s true; the person who constructs his life-paradigm with magic stone morals may prosper. But more times than not, such a life ends in judgment and ruin. And in an ultimate sense, a life lived thusly will always end that way. That’s because where pragmatism rules, the Gospel doesn’t.
A man of crooked heart does not discover good, and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity. Proverbs 17:20
Just because it’s easy doesn’t make it right.
By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel