Proverbs 17 does not evidence a thematic flow or narrative, as do many of the chapters in the Book of Proverbs. The majority of the 28 verses in Proverbs 17 stand alone in addressing individual themes and principles. Today’s devotion consists of two proverbs, Proverbs 17:8-9, each having its own theme.
Proverbs 17:8 – “A gift [bribe] is as [like] a precious [elegant; brilliant] stone in the eyes of him that hath it [owner]: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.”
This verse is not commending bribery as a way to success; however, it is acknowledging that bribery is often a part of politics, business and culture. If you travel abroad you will invariably experience the demand or temptation of a bribe to facilitate a transaction. Bribery in our culture is generally criminal; however, it has become modus operandi in business and politics.
Proverbs 17:9 – “He that covereth [hide; conceal; keeps secret] a transgression [sin; trespass] seeketh [search; strive after] love; but he that repeateth [speak again] a matter separateth [scatters; divides] very friends.”
The character of “Love” is the subject of verse 9. Love has become a word nearly devoid of meaning in our culture. The high ideals of Biblical, classic love [i.e. other-centered; self-sacrificing; unconditional; enduring] have been abandoned for a secular love that is both base and tripe. The 21st century portrait of love is self-focused, flesh-centered and emotionally arousing; however, sincere love is giving and forgiving [of course the highest ideal of love is God’s love for sinners – John 3:16; Romans 5:8].
Many Christians are guilty of stating a flippant “I love you” to fellow Christians, but allow the tempest of a shallow disagreement to arise and their love is exposed to be nothing more than a flighty, shallow, uncommitted friendship. The character of love portrayed in Proverbs 17:9 is a forgiving love—willing to pass over the sin and failure of another rather than expose them to undue shame and harm. It is a discreet, protective love. The apostle Peter wrote that same high ideal of love when he stated, “charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
The contrast to love that protects and forgives is one’s friendship with one who gossips and slanders (17:9b). This pseudo-friend will use your trust and confidences as his platform to ingratiate himself to your enemies.
What kind of friend are you? Do you know anything about the kind of love that holds its tongue rather than betray another’s trust? My personal experience is those kind of friends are rare indeed.
Proverbs 11:13 – “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”
Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith