Looking at these two proverbs, we can see they deal with contradictory themes. One speaks of bribes and corruption, the other, justice. We should note that WE aren't told to offer bribes or secret gifts. But when we wonder why justice is not done, we can know that bribes and self-interest often win out over what is right. Injustice, which should bring about the righteous anger of a ruler, is instead overlooked for a well-placed bribe.
The Laws of ancient Israel that God gave them to follow forbid this of her rulers: “Appoint judges and officials for yourselves from each of your tribes in all the towns the LORD your God is giving you. They must judge the people fairly. You must never twist justice or show partiality. Never accept a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and corrupt the decisions of the godly. Let true justice prevail, so you may live and occupy the land that the LORD your God is giving you." (Deuteronomy 16:18-20)
“Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly." (Leviticus 19:15) While this proverb states that bribery and corruption are a reality, scripture obviously does not condone the practice. When Jesus was teaching his disciples, he showed them how the reality of how the world defines justice and authority compared to how it works as a reality in the kingdom of heaven, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-27)
We can see this contrast in our proverbs today, in the teachings of Christ, and in the world all around us. Be we also know the Joy of God's Justice, "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
For many generations, God's people awaited this justice from God. Today, we live in the reality that God's justice has been done. The Good News is that anyone can accept this justice for themselves and be free from the condemnation of sin and death. So today, let's joyously share this truth with others. We wait not for human justice. God has delivered the sentence. Christ has taken the punishment and turned aside God's wrath from us.
Father, thank you for seeing justice done on earth as it is in heaven. Give me today all I need so I can share the Good News of your kingdom to all I encounter. Jesus, assure me of your great love for me, so I can rejoice with you in your victory on the cross. By your Holy Spirit, give me the wisdom to avoid corrupting justice for my own benefit. Make me an instrument of your justice and mercy today. Amen.