Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 17:23
"A wicked man receives a bribe from the bosom to pervert the ways of justice"
This is the Hebrew word rasha, which means wicked, criminal, evil, ungodly. The wicked are those who pursue their own interests and desires regardless of who gets hurt. In fact, Solomon points out that they will push their own desires to the point that even basic justice is lost. They want what they want and even if the fabric of the society is threatened, as long as they get the money, power, and prestige that they want they are okay with it. What they do not realize is that they destroy so much in their search for what will satisfy them.
This is the Hebrew word laqach, which means accept, take, capture, receive. Solomon wants to point out that wickedness is not just the person who gives the bribe and pushes for what they want. The wicked person is the one who receives the bribe and perverts justice because of it. This is something that we desperately need to remember: It is not just the person who gives the bribe that is a destroyer of society but also the one who accepts it. Solomon calls this person wicked and living outside of God's moral structure.
This is the Hebrew word shochad, which is the word present, bribe. Every politician and every leader should receive training in the necessity of turning down bribes.
This is the Hebrew word choq, which means arms, base, bosom, within.
This is the Hebrew word natah, which means to spread out, to incline, bend, extend. The idea is that the wicked person accepts bribes and moves justice in the favor of the one offering the bribe; bends the rules or decisions just a little bit.
This is the biblical orientation toward what is right and wrong; not fairness. Remember that the wicked person is the one who lives outside of the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. They do not care about God’s moral rules. They care about getting what they want. They may look respectable and kind, but they are truly selfish to the core and will throw anyone and anything under the bus to get what they want. One discovers the wicked not by the heinousness of the crimes they commit but by their commitment to selfishness. Solomon is actually giving us a wickedness detector here. If a person is willing to take a bribe so that they would guarantee an outcome that would not be just, then that means they are wicked.
One of the lessons that we need to take from this truth is that life and others will not always be fair with us. When we go to an official who has a decision to make in our lives, we expect that they will be fair and shoot straight with us. But they may be under the influence of a bribe that is twisting their decision. God allows people to act like this and pervert justice. God also says, though, that He is able to turn the wicked person’s perverted decision into a blessing in the life of the believer who loves and follows God.