Bribes are interesting things in the world around us. I remember going on a trip to Mexico and experiencing the power of a bribe. I watched as our group was slowed to a halt at the border. It was very apparent that we were going to be held up for a long amount of time unless a bribe was paid. Fortunately for us (because the border guards were talking hours before they would let us through - if even allowing us at all) the people who took us knew of these shady dealings and had money actually budgeted for bribes if they were necessary. Once the money was paid, the wheels were greased and we were taken through customs (where we knew we had every passport and visa in order) and were on our way to minister to those for whom we had come to minister.
A bribe is like a charm in the sight of its owner. That charm often takes a situation where you are stalled or opposed and turns it around. Suddenly you are moved from a stalled status - to a faorable one. You are afforded favor where once there was no favor. Now realize that Solomon is not saying that this is something wonderful - for elsewhere in the Scriptures we read where those who will receive bribes are those who pervert justice in doing so. But as with some of the Proverbs - this book was written to speak of the basic behavior of men - and the blessing of knowing this behaior in advance.
There is something that needs to be said about bribes though. We read where Solomon speaks of how a bribe is a charm in the sight of its owner. The "briber" here is thinking that his bribe will get him whatever he wants. There are two instances where this will not be the case. In fact, in these two cases a bribe will be seen as offensive and degrading. The first place is with a just and righteous man. To him a bribe says two things. First it says that the men with whom he is dealing is not an honorable man. He is not willing to let his character and works stand on their own. He feels the need to help things along with money. The second case is at the throne of God. There is no payment that is enough to bribe God. He is holy and cannot be bribed or misled by some payment. Bribes can work like charms and prosper a man when used on the ungodly. But remember that just as the man thinks he can charm a cobra and make it do what he wants - so also that situation - that cobra can turn on him. If a man will receive a bribe from you - he will receive a larger one from someone else. It is better to allow your character to speak and be the reason you prosper. To do otherwise may gain you prosperity on earth - but will never bless you in the sight of God.