What does Proverbs 21:14 mean?
ESV: A gift in secret averts anger, and a concealed bribe, strong wrath.
NIV: A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.
NASB: A gift in secret subdues anger, And a bribe in an inside pocket, strong wrath.
CSB: A secret gift soothes anger, and a covert bribe, fierce rage.
NLT: A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury.
KJV: A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
Once again, Solomon (Proverbs 10:1) notes how the world is, without endorsing that fact as ideal (Proverbs 17:8). Solomon is not giving his approval of this action; he is simply stating the fact that such practices take place and produce desirable results.
Exodus 23:8 clearly condemns bribery by stating, "And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right." Deuteronomy 16:19 repeats this command for the new generation of Israelites who would enter the Promised Land. This verse reads: "You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous."
Jacob understood the fact that giving gifts to an angry person can subdue his anger. On his return home Jacob sent messengers with gifts to his brother Esau, from whom he had stolen the birthright. The gifts were meant to cool any residual anger Esau held (Genesis 33:8). The two men met on cordial terms (Genesis 33:4), and, after some urging, Esau agreed to keep Jacob's gift (Genesis 33:9–11).
Proverbs 21:1–16 continues Solomon's wise observations (Proverbs 10:1) by acknowledging the Lord's control of kings. He also mentions what the Lord despises: pride, love of money, violence, the conduct of the wicked, the withholding of charity, bribery, and apostasy. On the other hand, he commends righteousness and justice, pure conduct, wise acceptance of instruction, and charity.
This chapter begins and ends with a declaration of God's sovereignty. He alone judges the heart; the Lord considers intentions just as important as physical actions. Other comments include statements about unpleasant spouses, proper perspectives on wealth, work ethic, and the essential nature of godly wisdom. Human wisdom is no match for the sovereign Lord, who alone is ultimately responsible for victory in battle.
This is part of the second major section of the book (Proverbs 10—22) featuring nearly four hundred statements. Most of these are two-line comments presenting common sense and general wisdom. The vague theme of chapter 21 is God's control. Man may believe he is in control of his circumstances, but God superintends everything. The chapter begins and ends by assuring the readers that God holds ultimate sway over all things.
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:38:05 AM
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