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Proverbs 17:23 & meaning...

A wicked 

man receives a bribe in secret, to pervert the ways of justice.

Proverbs 17:23

Context

Proverbs 17 [20.] One who has a perverse heart doesn’t find prosperity,

    and one who has a deceitful tongue falls into trouble.

He who becomes the father of a fool grieves.

    The father of a fool has no joy.

A cheerful heart makes good medicine,

    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

A wicked man receives a bribe in secret,

    to pervert the ways of justice.

Wisdom is before the face of one who has understanding,

    but the eyes of a fool wander to the ends of the earth.


Meaning:

  • Bribery and Corruption:

Covert Transactions: The mention of receiving a bribe "behind the back" implies clandestine and deceitful dealings. It suggests a lack of transparency and an attempt to subvert the established norms of justice for personal gain.

Motivation of the Wicked: The association of bribery with wickedness highlights the moral and ethical dimensions of such actions. It suggests that those who engage in corrupt practices are characterized by a deviation from righteous conduct.

  • Perversion of Justice:

Corruption of Fairness: The verse underscores the impact of bribery on justice, describing it as a means to "pervert the ways of justice." This implies a distortion or twisting of the intended course of fair and equitable judgment.

Erosion of Moral Foundations: The use of the term "pervert" indicates a corruption that goes beyond the immediate act of bribery. It speaks to a broader erosion of moral and ethical foundations within the system of justice.

  • Social Implications:

Community Consequences: The presence of corruption in justice systems has broader implications for society. It erodes trust in institutions, fosters inequality, and undermines the very fabric of a just and equitable community.

Distrust and Division: When bribery becomes a norm, it can lead to a society marked by distrust and division. The perception that justice is for sale creates a sense of injustice and inequality, sowing seeds of discord.


Practical Application:

Ethical Conduct: Proverbs 17:23 calls believers to uphold ethical conduct in all aspects of life. It challenges them to reject dishonest gain and to actively resist any form of bribery or corruption.

Advocacy for Justice: Believers are prompted to advocate for a just and equitable society. This involves not only personal integrity but also a commitment to address systemic issues that contribute to the perversion of justice.


Cross-References:

Proverbs 15:27: "He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live." This verse aligns with the theme of dishonest gain and its detrimental impact, emphasizing the contrast between the one who seeks gain at any cost and the one who rejects bribes.

Exodus 23:8: "You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds those who have sight and perverts the words of the righteous." The prohibition against taking bribes in the Old Testament aligns with the wisdom expressed in Proverbs, emphasizing the blinding and perverting effects of bribery.


In conclusion, Proverbs 17:23 serves as a moral compass, warning against the destructive consequences of bribery on the integrity of justice. It calls us to embrace righteousness, reject dishonest gain, and actively contribute to the establishment of a just and equitable society.


PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible