Many seek the ruler's favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord. Proverbs 29:26
Where do you get justice in our world? Today's proverb weighs in on this issue in a way that reminds us that we need to keep an eternal perspective on all things. This world may seek what they call justice from the officials who rule over it, but true justice for mankind comes from God.
Many do seek the ruler's favor - and consider that justice. The problem comes when you realize that rulers are not always righteous. There are rulers and officials who receive bribes and favors to turn justice toward the one who gave them. Another problem arises when you read the statement that "many" seek the ruler's favor. That means if your bribe is not high enough, you lose. If someone else comes along and offers something more or something better, justice goes to the highest bidder. Such was the case with Haman, Mordecai, and Esther. Haman, angry with Mordecai because he would not bow down to him - paid a ridiculous amount of money to the king to have "his justice" enforced. That justice did not involve punishment on Mordecai - but on the entire nation of Israel. He did not want Mordecai to be punished alone - he wanted the extermination of his entire race. The price was right - and a decree was made to have the Jews destroyed kingdom-wide. Thus goes justice when you seek the ruler's favor. The real problem for Haman though, was the justice he bought was not final. When Esther gave two banquets for the king, told him he was a Jew, and on top of all this the king later learned that Mordecai had saved his life - the price for this justice went much higher. In the end, justice from the king meant Haman's hanging, the destruction of his entire family, and the destruction of Israel's enemies in the city and throughout the kingdom.
God warns those He puts in authority repeatedly against taking bribes perverting justice for a price. Although power can corrupt - and absolute power can corrupt absolutely - God alone is the One Who cannot be corrupted. Therefore wisdom tells us that, "justice for man comes from the Lord." God's justice is based on His perfect righteousness and justice. He does not have such things - He IS such things. God does not base justice on a set of laws given by others - He is the Lawgiver, He is the Source of righteousness, and He is the Judge. His throne is founded on justice and righteousness. When He speaks, He speaks with absolute authority - and - with absolute, perfect just and right decisions. When He speaks and judges - His statements are final - and always beyond question. Here is what He said about Himself when revealing Himself to Moses. "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-8) God is just - but our salvation is not His justice, but His mercy and grace.
Justice for man truly does come from The Lord. The gospel bears this out. God is just and the Justifier of the one who believes in Jesus Christ. He carried out His perfect, absolute justice when Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. If there ever was a time when God might have set aside justice and righteousness - it would have been for His Son. But God's justice is perfect - and Christ had to die for sins for man to be forgiven and made righteous in God's sight. Thus the fullness of God's justice and wrath fell on His Son that day. But . . . as a result, justice for man comes from the Lord. We have a choice - to face the full brunt of God's wrath for our sins ourselves - or to turn to Jesus Christ, believe on Him, and receive grace and mercy. The Just God - had His justice satisfied by the death of His Son for sin. Now He will justify (declare rightoeous) anyone who turns to His Son in repentance and faith. No man can offer such a thing. Therefore the wise man is the one who seeks absolute justice, not from fickle men who can change justice as often as they change socks, but from God. He will not only give just decisions here on earth between men - but will give the ultimate justice to us in heaven - not based on us paying the price of our sins - but based on the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. Proverbs 28:21
Favoritism and partiality is characterized as not being good in this proverb. In order to understand this we have to have a worldview that sees mankind as fallen and sinful. The modern worldviews that see man as basically good will not fully grasp this. They blame things on the environment in which someone was reared - or on a lack of education. If this were the case, then the most priviledged and educated would be the godliest among us - right?
The reason partiality is not good - is because men and woman can be bought. The proverb that we are looking at today says they can be bought for a piece of bread. That is cheap. But we only need to remember Esau to be reminded that he sold the birthright of a very rich family for a bowl of stew. The offer of immediate gratification will trump the mind of a sinful man that should counsel him to see the full price of what he is about to do.
Bribery in the matter of judges must have been as common then as it is today among politicians. The Old Testament is filled with admonitions to even the least official who would pervert justice for a bribe. Today it is a rare thing to see a man in public office who has not been bought with money donated to his campaign. What we MUST remember is that if a man can be bought for a price - who's to say that he cannot be bought by someone offering a little more?
God's admonition to us is not the size of the bribe - but whether the heart can be bought at all. The Scriptures warn us that he who is unfaithful in a little - will be unfaithful no matter how much is offered. The trustworthy man is the one who rejects any kind of bribe. His desire is to offer justice based on the Word of God. He knows that truth will prevail no matter how much money is thrown his way. He also knows that there will be a day when even judges will face the judgment. We read of that day in Psalm 2 as God gives the following admonition to the kings and judges of the earth, "Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" Even judges will be judged - and rulers have One who rules over them. Thus the wise man is one who recognizes the ultimate authority of God, who submits to Him, and who makes his decisions, not in light of the bread or bribe set before him, but in light of day when every judgment will be judged itself.
A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. Proverbs 28:16
When a leader becomes an extortioner either through bribes or through taxation - he is not a wise leader at all. Today's Proverb has to do with governing officials and how they receive the money with which they work - and by which they are paid.
We are presented with a leader who according to Solomon is a "great oppressor." The word "oppressor" is very interesting because it, along with the second half of this proverb, opens up the meaning for us. The Hebrew word is "masaqqot" and it means one who oppresses by extortion. Zhodiates' dictionary defines this word this way, "It indicates a leader abusing his people by forcing them to pay money or contribute goods against their will. This he then uses to enrich himself and those ruling with him.
An unwise leader is one who decides that the money of the people he rules is his money. It belongs to the government - and therefore to him and those who serve with him. There are numerous instances where government leaders tax their people - and use that money to enrich themselves. They also use it to enrich those who support them - making sure that anyone who is their friend, supporter (or in our society, voter, campaign contributor) is rewarded richly for their efforts. In the times of kings this group was their nobles and knights - in today's society it is donors and voters. God allowed for His people to be taxed for the purpose of their governmental leaders. He also warned the leaders not to oppress His people by taxing them exorbitantly. Bribes also were expressly forbidden by God. The proverbs are filled with wisdom that promotes hard work and labor so that we can be blessed and become more and more financially blessed by it. Nowhere in Scripture does God encourage government to take confiscatory taxes from the people and redistribute it to those whom the government desires to bless.
We are told that any leader who does this kind of thing is lacking understanding. To understand something meant that you had gathered data together and were putting the pieces together so that you got a much bigger picture of things. In the context in which we find this proverb we are speaking of God's wisdom and knowledge being gathered so that we have an understanding of things beyond that of just this earth. It is seeing far enough into the future to make a wise decision and follow wise actions. The financially oppressive leader truly lacks any vision into the future.
Government leaders have authority - but it is high level authority to lead and serve people as God would have them go. Their role, like any other is to serve the people - and bless them with how they lead a nation. Unfortunately for some people, their leaders see their authority and misuse it to get rich or to stay in authority by oppressing the people with ridiculous, oppressive taxes. The king and his officials live lavishly off the people's money - and care little for the plight of the average man. They think the tax money of the people is their own to use as they see fit. They then see fit to line their pockets and their supporter's pockets. Often this is done as the rest of the nation suffers under the load of larger and larger taxed amounts.
We are told that the one who hates this kind of unjust gain will prolong his days. Two things we see here. First, God calls this kind of ungodly confiscation of the goods of hard working people "unjust." It is not good - and God does not approve of it. Second, we see that this kind of activity in government will not last long. The people will inevitably rise up and call for this to stop! History has shown that leaders who oppress their people with extortionary taxes will eventually be overthrown. Kings and queens have been beheaded - dictators overthrown, and elected officials voted out of office because they were making themselves rich on the people's taxes. Unfortunately for us, we've watched over the years as our leaders on both sides of the aisle have voted themselves to wealth and to pensions that are beyond imagination - while taxing us out of more and more of the money we earn. Over the past four years alone - the Washington D. C. area has grown in wealth and luxury, while the populace is either given the wealth of others through taxation - or taxed barren to provide such things.
As I studied this passage - and looked over history - I saw again and again leaders who loved their unjust gain. This was the case whether the government was a monarchy or a representative republic like our own. Men are greedy and want to be rich. They will do so even while falsely championing the "little guy" in their speeches. The one thing that we can be sure of though is that these governments will not long endure. They will fall just like all the others have over the years who have oppressed their people with their taxation and schemes to be rich on the people's dime.
He who profits illicitly troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live. Proverbs 15:27
Ours is a society that is quickly becoming corrupt at multiple levels. It has been sad to watch our country turn from one that valued integrity and honesty, to one that is moving toward the kind of values that exist in a banana republic. The frequency of elected officials being charged and convicted with fraud is alarming. The fact that we watch them use their positions of power to enrich themselves with laws they impose on us, while exempting themselves from their own statutes is terrifying. That is because, as we will learn from today's proverb, those who do such things bring trouble to their own home. This is true on a personal level, but also on a corporate and even national level too.
We read that those who profit illicitly trouble their own house. This simply means that when we choose to leave our integrity at the altar of greed and the pursuit of wealth at any cost, we are going to create serious problems for our family. This is for several reasons. First and most importantly is the trouble that is caused for our children and our grandchildren - even to the third and fourth generations of our family. They watch as we abandon God and embrace the pursuit of riches. Paul wrote young Timothy and warned that the love of riches is a root of all kinds of evil. He warns him in the book of 1 Timothy that some who have done this bring harm to themselves and pierce themselves with many a harmful desire. This will infect our families to several generations.
We see this in our current immoral business climate in the United States banking and financial sectors. Hardly a day goes by now without learning about another failure to preserve any moral foundation - as the generation that watched their parents make money and financial security their only goal now take those lessons to new lows. They are now grabbing all the money they can - in any way that they can - regardless of who is hurt and what businesses are destroyed in the process. The courts are now filled with men who set up ponzy schemes and who criminally mismanaged funds. We are learning that raw greed motivated them to steal money that was not theirs. Oh, and before we get too far away from our proverb, has brought great shame and trouble to their wives, children, and posterity even into the future.
We are given a protective against this in the second part of this proverb. The one who hates bribes will live. He will be protected against the devastating effects of greed. Bribes blind those who receive them. They are unable to see the truth because they are focused on easy money that is put in front of them. The bribe can be anything from the cash handed to a politician to look the other way of pass legislation that gives unfair advantages to certain businesses or groups - to the more subtle bribe that encourages someone to cut corners and cook books to cover their own greed for money. No matter how the bribe presents itself it is lying to us. It promises easy money, quick wealth, a way to get whatever we want without hard work and sacrifice. But the bribe lies to us - not telling us of the pitfalls and dangers that are inherent in living for the world and the flesh. These two foes of our spiritual growth and maturity are truly deadly - and can not just polute our spirits - but those of many future generations of our family. That is why we need to protect ourselves from "every kind of greed," as our Lord warns. For the truth is that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Life comes as we learn to submit every area of our lives to the Lord for Him to use for His glory. So the next time you are offered a bribe to lay aside biblical principles and values - see it for the dangerous thing it is. Reject it and turn to the Lord for strength to be content with what you have. That is the path to life!
He will not accept any ransom, Nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts. Proverbs 6:35
Adultery is always stupid. There is no amount of money or ransom that a man will accept for the love and purity of his wife. God gave us marriage and is the very essence of love - and bequeathed to us the gift of loving someone else. One of the most wonderful expressions of His love is seen when a man and woman commit to one another in marriage. That picture is used in Ephesians 5
to show the love of Christ for His church. The love that exists in marriage is supposed to be very strong - and thus breaking it is not something that can be paid back by any amount of money.
We read in Song of Solomon 8:6-7 these words that will help us understand why there is no ransom for adultery. "Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very
flame of the LORD. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it; If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised." Love is as strong as death - that is why often a divorce is described as being as devastating as a death in a family. Love is as powerful as death, jealousy is like death, and again is described as like "flashes of fire" and "the very flame of Jehovah." These are not light, fluffy passing descriptions. They are powerful and honestly, frightening! When you choose to love someone and commit to them for life in marriage, this is the power that is released. That is why no ransom will be accepted for adultery - no gift will seem appropriate. We read in Song of Solomon that if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love - the one offered the money would utterly despise the offer. Love is more powerful than ANY amount of money ever offered.
Unfortunately, a movie I know of but have not seen, illustrates our point. The move was called, "Indecent Proposal." I would NOT encourage anyone to see it - so I will describe what I've read about it. In the movie a young couple are given an indecent proposal by a rich man to pay them $1,000,000 for the wife to commit adultery once with him. After weighing what they could do with that much money, they unwisely agree to this indecent proposal. The wife commits adultery and they are paid the money. But the film examines the carnage that follows as, you guessed it, jealousy begins enraging this man over what has happened. Just like it says in Song of Solomon - no amount of money is worth love. Any amount is utterly despised. The man comes to realize too late that the purity and sanctity of their relationship is not worth any sum of money - not even a million dollars. Even a ransom of that enormous amount is something despised and abhorred by a husband and wife. Thus when one partner sins for usually far less, it is a foolish choice indeed that they are making. They are selling out their vows for nothing more than a fleeting promise of forbidden pleasure. What they will pay in the end would make them recoil from such actions. The problem is that "in the moment" they do not think, nor do they reason with any kind of biblical or moral judgment. They destroy themselves and their marriage in a bid for the illusive promise of a night of passionate pleasure. What they most likely do not know is that the indulgence will cost them more than they could ever imagine. This is why, dear saints, Adultery is always stupid.
A gift in secret subdues anger, And a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath. Proverbs 21:14
Some of the proverbs are instructional while others are observational. In no way is the Bible endorsing giving bribes to subvert justice - but God, the One who has inspired the Scriptures, is also not blind to the observation that bribes do exist and they are used to turn away anger and wrath. In understanding this proverb we do need to focus on the fact that what is being said here deals with the issue of those who are angry and filled with wrath toward another. This is not a proverb dealing with wanting to pervert justice - it is about dealing with those who come to a court situation and who are very angry. It is written with truth that will help those who are wanting to lessen that anger before they get to court. So what is this proverb telling us - and what observation is it giving to us?
When facing anger and wrath from someone - it is helpful in subduing it to offer a gift or a bribe. Bribes do exist - and unfortunately the rich use them to subvert justice. When a situation arises when someone is very angry and they are considering acting in the wrath of the moment - a bribe will help tone down the anger. Is this righteous? Most likely in the case of the bribe it is not. Is it effective in the world? Unfortunately it probably is. But there is another way of looking at the statement that a gift in secret subdues anger.
Those who know of court proceedings know that many cases are "settled" out of court. What is often done is that lawyers offer a "settlement" to make a case or a person's anger go away. The injured person is willing to have a sum of money - a gift given in secret if you will - subdue their anger and move them to drop the suit in court. These settlements usually involve fairly large amounts of money. They are meant to pacify the anger of the one who is bringing the suit or threatening to do so. When this gift is given in secret - the case goes away. For those who know that they are in trouble and guilty, yet do not want a court or a jury deciding the award in the case, a settlement may save them millions of dollars. For the person injured or wronged, it saves them the difficulty of the court case itself - and the risk of getting nothing. In the end, though everyone may not be completely thrilled, it does subdue the anger and settle the dispute.
Remember though, this is a proverb that is observatory. It is observing what happens in life - not dictating what should happen. In this regard it is good to know these things - and to know that God knows too. God knows that often these things will happen - but one thing to remember is that they will never happen at His bar of justice. When we stand before God, there is no amount of money or works that will speak for us subduing His wrath. The only thing that speaks in that day is the blood of Jesus Christ shed to pay for our sins in full. There will be no bribes or gifts passed under the table. God Himself has made the way of payment for sin - but know this - it is the ONLY payment accepted.