Proverbs 17:8

A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.

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Gifts are wonderful things. They can accomplish much – for good or evil. Having received a gift, and looking upon it to appreciate its value, a man will do whatever was sought from him. Like a jewel, it dazzles the eyes and warms the heart to a desired task. A jewel is beautiful from most any angle, and a gift will work in most any situation.

Here is a general observation of Solomon about the power of gifts. They work! The proverb does not condemn gifts, but rather indicates their powerful potential for good or evil. If they are used with good motives for good purposes, the noble end will be accomplished. If they are used with evil motives for evil ends, the sin will be done.

Philip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, said, “There is no fortress so strong, but it might be taken, if an ass laden with gold was brought to the gate.”

Who has the gift here in the proverb? The giver or receiver? Why not both? The owner of a gift believes his reward will move any stubborn will to promote his purposes. The receiver of a gift, viewing it as a sweet blessing, is willing to quickly do what was desired of him. The choice does not alter the interpretation. The lesson is the same – gifts work!

Does Solomon teach more about gifts? Yes, wicked men use gifts as bribes to corrupt justice (Pr 17:23). Gifts are effective to get you an audience with important people (Pr 18:16), and they can win friends (Pr 19:6). Gifts can pacify the anger of an adversary (Pr 21:14). Boasting about giving without performing is empty and disappointing (Pr 25:14).

God elsewhere strictly condemns gifts for wicked purposes. Gifts blind the eyes and overthrow wisdom and righteousness (Ex 23:8). Gifts wrest judgment and pervert the words of the righteous (Deut 16:19). They can buy the death of innocent men (Deut 27:25). Samuel’s sons took bribes, but he would not (I Sam 8:3; 12:3). A wicked nation has bribes occurring frequently (Micah 7:3). Godly men refuse bribes (Isaiah 33:15)

No wonder Lady Justice is a blindfolded woman with a sword in one hand and scales in the other. She will not look at the persons before her or any gifts they might offer in order to justly weigh the circumstances of each case and rightly execute any punishments. It is in this way you should form your own opinions and make your own judgments, with a blind eye to friends and foes, but with a perfect view of righteousness (John 7:24).

Gifts work! They can win friends and influence others for good, and they can be used as bribes or payments for wickedness. The lesson is that they work. Wisdom teaches to use them only for good purposes and to recognize that many men will do evil to obtain them.

Can you recall gifts for good purposes? Jacob softened Esau’s heart with well-spaced gifts (Gen 32:13-21). Jacob sent a gift to the harsh ruler in Egypt (Gen 43:11-14). Abigail soothed David with one (I Sam 25:18-20,35). David pacified Judah for missing a battle against the Philistines (I Sam 29:1-11; 30:26-31). The Philistine priests wisely suggested golden hemorrhoids and mice to appease the dreadful God of Israel (I Sam 6:5).

Can you recall gifts for evil purposes? Covetous Balaam could not rule his lust for the coins of Moab (Num 22:7-8,21; II Pet 2:15-16). Wicked Simon tried to buy the apostolic gift of the Holy Spirit, but Peter would have none of it (Acts 8:17-24). The Jews paid Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus Christ into their hands (Matt 26:14-16), and they also bribed the guards who had witnessed the Lord’s resurrection (Matt 28:11-15).

Reader, are you free from the allure of a gift? Many men have been snared by the favors of a woman, when he should have demanded the fear of the Lord (Pr 31:30). Many women have fallen for merely the kind words of a seducing man (Gen 34:1-3). Have you ever compromised truth for a gift, a sale, a bonus, or a promotion? Beware of gifts.

God’s ministers must hate filthy lucre, lest it sway their interpretation or application of scripture (Is 56:11; Jer 6:13; 8:10; Mic 3:11; Mal 1:10; I Tim 3:3,8; Titus 1:7,11; I Pet 5:2). Woe to the minister who worries about the size of a church’s membership or his income rather than the truth of God’s word and the honest and holy application of it.

Is there a place in your life for giving a gift today? Could you honor your parents with a gift? Or better yet, your in-laws? Could you reconcile an estranged friend by a gift in secret (Pr 21:14)? Could you comfort and cheer a discouraged person with one today? How about a token of appreciation for your best employees? Would an unexpected gift lift the heart of your spouse? What could you do for the benefit of your church? Do it!

The best gift is God’s gift of His only Son for the sins of rebel enemies. Pagan gods required the death of your son to be pacified (II Kgs 17:17). But the true God gave His only Son for His enemies. Consider that gift! Did it prosper whithersoever it turned? Indeed! It satisfied divine justice and obtained everlasting righteousness for every one of them (Is 53:10-12). It is called the unspeakable gift (II Cor 9:15; Rom 5:15-19; 6:23), and it has captivated and motivated many to love and serve Christ like Paul (II Cor 5:14-15).