Proverbs 18:16

The Power of Gifts



1. A proverb like this (and there are several in the book) needs a proper introduction.

a. This proverb is helpful and instructive when properly applied.

b. However, it can also be dangerous because it can easily be abused.

2. It is wise for us to be reminded once again that we are in the book of PROVERBS… and proverbs are little nuggets of truth.

a. They don’t discuss the truth from every possible angle.

b. Every one is different. Some are pregnant with meaning. Others make a simple statement.

c. They are all designed to make us THINK.

d. Prov. 18:16 does not tell us what SHOULD BE. Rather, it simply tells us what IS.

e. It is true—but not necessarily good.

3. This proverb makes one simple statement: gifts open doors!

a. It is a simple statement of a fact of life.

b. This is not an endorsement of the idea.

c. He does not favor this method.

d. He does not encourage us to use this method.

e. He is simply stating a fact. Bribes work!

f. People use bribes to advance themselves.

g. Solomon is not saying that we should USE gifts to advance ourselves.

h. Nor is he saying that gift giving is wrong or evil.

i. He simply makes a statement… one little nugget of truth.

j. We need to use caution as to how we APPLY that nugget of truth.

A man’s gift maketh room for him…

1. “A man’s”

a. The word for “man” here is Adam.

b. It can refer to a male… or the human race.

c. Here it refers to mankind—including women.

d. He is speaking about gifts used by human beings.

e. Solomon is letting us know something about human nature.

f. This is true of both men and women.

2. “A man’s gift”

a. Gift = a gift; a present; an offering.

b. In some social or religious contexts a “gift” may have varying degrees of obligation attached to it… or at least expectation of getting something in return.

c. It is a gift… with strings attached.

d. In certain contexts, it comes very near the concept of a bribe… when it is used to procure favor.

e. That is the sense in which it is used here.

f. Solomon is speaking about a “gift” that one human being uses to procure favor from someone else.

3. It “makes room for him”

a. Defined: to open; widen; enlarge; broaden.

b. It is used figuratively of “creating an opportunity” or “opening a door”… by enlarging the way… making travel or movement easy…

c. Thus, this expression speaks of the motive behind the gift given.

d. A gift “makes room” for a person… it opens a door… it creates an opportunity for him.

4. Whether we like it or not, this is true. It is a fact.

a. Gifts open doors for people.

b. People use gifts to open doors for themselves.

c. People use gifts to advance their own agendas.

d. Prov. 17:8 – Bribes work. People use them all the time.

e. This was a fact of life in Solomon’s world… and in ours.

5. Gifts often DO open doors

a. Prov. 17:23 –Evil men use “gifts” to open doors so that they can get themselves off the hook!
• It perverts justice.
• A gift buys favor with the judge in court; buys false witnesses to lie in court—(as Jezebel did).
• It opens the door to get what you want in court. People buy their way out of jail.

b. I Kings 15:18 – King Asa sent a “gift” to Benhadad, king of Syria to buy favor with him. This was common practice in ancient societies… and not so ancient societies!

6. Obviously, this proverb was not written to encourage the practice of bribes or giving gifts with strings attached.

a. It was written as a WARNING to us.

b. Be aware of this common method people use!

c. If you are a boss… be a little suspicious about those who come bearing gifts.

d. Be a bit suspicious if people are overly nice… dripping with sugary words…

e. Be aware that gifts often come with strings attached…

f. People give gifts expecting something in return. Be aware.

g. And if you give a gift to someone—don’t be surprised if they are a bit suspicious too.

h. The so-called gift of a Trojan horse given by the Greeks to the city of Troy was pure deception to capture and conquer the city.

7. This proverb warns us about gifts… it warns us that often times people GIVE in order to GET…

a. People often give gifts to make room for themselves… to advance themselves… or their agendas… their cause.

b. In Washington, lobbyists use gifts… expensive dinners and lavish vacations to influence and procure the favor of, and votes of congressmen.

c. Ironically, even charitable giving – philanthropic giving opens doors for the giver…
• It brings them before great men—the national or international media… the spotlight.
• Bill Gates giving millions to his causes…
• They may be very good causes—

d. But even philanthropic giving is designed to advance self (self image)… usually to make a big name for themselves… and the cameras are usually rolling.

e. Matt. 6:1-4 – Giving for the believer…
• The RIGHT way to give is to not let our right hand know what our left hand is doing.
• Keep it secret and your Father in heaven will reward you.
• Otherwise, the (glory) recognition of men is all the reward you get.
• If we give a gift, no one should know but God. It should be given for the glory of God, not self-advancement.
• The gift Solomon had in mind had ulterior motives.

And bringeth him before great men.

1. “Bringeth” = to lead; to guide; (used often of God leading people).

2. “Before great men”

a. Lit = in the face of great men… before their face.

b. Great men = lit = great ones… great men…

3. The gift often is used to bring people before men of great position, power, or authority.

a. Gifts open doors of all sorts.

b. Here, it opens the door to the king… or the governor… or the judge… or other men in positions of power.

c. If you want to be heard—you have to grease palms.

d. Men in positions of power who don’t have time to see you or hear your case will often make time when a gift is offered. He will “make room” for your case if the price is right.

e. People buy positions by bribes. Others sell positions through bribery.

f. Bribes occur sometimes in our country… but when caught, the person is humiliated and perhaps imprisoned.

g. But in some parts of the world—their economy RUNS on bribes… gifts… greasing palms… It is not an aberration, it is the norm.

h. It is a terrible practice, because it is unfair to the poor.
• The wealthy can buy “justice” while the poor can’t afford justice… and thus do not receive it!
• That’s the sad truth.
• People born into wealth and privilege can BUY their way into high positions and high places…
• People of means can afford to have their case heard before great men… poor people cannot afford to be heard before the king… or the judge… or the senator…

i. Prov. 19:6 – Many will entreat the favor of a prince—a great man. They often do so with gifts.

j. I Sam. 25:27 – Abigail brought a gift to pacify David’s anger. But she did so with good motives. It worked.

k. Gen. 32:20 – Jacob used gifts to appease the anger of Esau who wanted to kill him! Esau was a powerful man.

l. This proverb does not tell us what SHOULD BE. Rather, it simply tells us what IS.

THANKFULLY we have complete access to God and no gifts are required! The price has already been paid.
• Through the cross, Christ has made room for us… and has brought us into the presence of—much better than great men… into the very presence of the King of kings!

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