December 2, 2013

Buying Judgment, Part I: Everyone Has A Price

Bribery is subtle (often hidden) manipulation at its core and reeks of deception. Bribery is always selfish as it is attempting to perpetuate a selfish deed based in a selfish motive. That is what bribes are. The offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing an action. Many are never seen. It is the way governments really run underneath but we call the bribes “donations” or "lobbies". People are put in power or seize power through said manipulations of a system and then it is an ever-increasing game of gaining more power and influence often through the same means. Many can be bought with a price and that is the idea of a bribe…that everyone has a price. It assumes that sin and greed of the inner man will trump loyalty, morality and an ethic in the end. In the end this assumption is usually right as all men can be tempted and all succumb to temptation. It takes and extraordinary dependence on God, not ourselves, to overcome these temptations. We see the perfect example of overcoming this type of temptation with Jesus in the wilderness. Satan essentially tries to bribe Jesus to not follow through with the divine plan by offering all the kingdoms of the world. It was stupid of Satan to tempt god but it was a type of bribery none-the-less. The kingdoms offered were not even Satan's to offer but he tries anyway. Jesus rebukes Satan from Scripture and the vulgar being departs.

The truth is, we do it with our children. Yes, we bribe them. We do it with our parents. We try to "deal"…this for that. If you do this, you’ll get this. A better position of leverage. We haggle. In the process we undermine or truncate the person’s volitional action that probably should’ve done things out of love or other wholesome motives. In this way we short-circuit naturally occurring affections. Instead of doing things out of love for others we get them to act based out of selfish desires and self-love. I suggest this wasn't the way things were meant to be nor is it the way God wants it. Love is a tremendous motivator and that is why it is embodied in the two greatest commandments. Bribery mitigates and curtails honest emotion and affections and usually replaces it with sinister motive and licentiousness. Nowhere is this more evident than in the incidences of bribery in the Bible.

Judges 16:5 ~ “And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”

We see malevolence all over this story. The deception of the lover being bribed by the Philistines is one of the primary focuses. Where a good woman can salvage a man’s life a wicked one can ruin it. Just like in the story of Solomon’s pagan wives, we see men of God mixing with the forbidden and things end poorly for them.

What should also be noted is the considerable risk that Delilah is being asked to put herself into. Nowhere is this better evidenced than in the payoff the lords of the Philistines offer her for her cooperation. It is a classic case of being bought for a price. In today’s money adjusted for inflation Delilah sold out Samson for approximately $40,000 US Dollars (a year’s salary). My guess is that Delilah did indeed have an emotional attachment to Samson as the lords approach her. Therefore, when she finally decides to rat him out, she does so with a cold calculated efficiency. Delilah sells her proverbial (and perhaps literal) soul for 40 grand and dives in head first to cause her lover’s fall.

When she turns, she turns deadly--a true femme fatale. As a matter of fact, Delilah so completely sells out Samson, Bible readers are left with the impression that Samson was naïve and stupid for not recognizing these undesirable traits in his passion. I suggest that she might have not been this way initially but the powerful allure of money and its swaying spiritual power of money corrupted her. Once the decision is made she turned like a rabid dog. The greed and sin drew out even more deeply entrenched sin that even she was probably unaware of. She became fiscally feral. The money itself was not evil, but the desire for it was pure avariciousness.

We then read of Samuel’s wicked sons…

1 Samuel 8:1-3 ~ “When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

God, being perfectly just hates injustice. Samuel’s sons are the complete opposite of their father. They are unjust and frankly, evil. They are easily bribed for their judgments. My goodness, does this sound exactly like politicians and judges today? It is not surprising that this is the same type of people that would demand a king (like other nations), in lieu of God as King in a theocracy. Priorities are totally backwards here and it shows. Putting men before God solely for outward appearances.

We see a transitional judge (Samuel) of God for what he is…a fallen man with flaws and foibles. It is God working through Samuel that gave him his greatness. It was nothing within hims that warranted an accolade. So it was with him…so it is with us as fallen sinners redeemed by Christ. It is nothing that we do or say that exhibits greatness in itself. It is the work of God, His Spirit and Scripture through us. It is the pure raw power of the Gospel. I believe it is this failure to discern that has many in the land scream for a king (Saul) since the fear of having unjust judges (Samuel's sons) over them will return them to the time of Judges when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Justice then was also perverted since right and wrong became morally relative and everyone’s measure of justice was their own gauge of right and wrong…leading to chaos.

In this flawed man’s sons we see even more flawed and sinful behavior. They took bribes or dishonest gain to influence behavior and they perverted or overthrew proper decision-making for said bribes. Wicked men to pass judgment on others. I don’t suppose it is ironic that the last judge’s sons were wicked just as Eli’s sons were wicked. It only took one generation of privilege for man to turn away from the source of blessing and privilege which was God. Foolish men.

The primary thing I see here is that the farther one drifts or turns away from God…the poorer their decision-making process becomes. The more people depend on their own knowledge and wisdom instead of calling on God, the more tragedy ensues. Just as Samson didn’t consult with God in his choice of women. So too we see the fallout from Samuel’s dependence on his own opinions formed by his own reasoning and thinking. We see him appoint his wicked sons and is impressed with David’s brother Eliab’s appearance rather than seeing David’s potential as God’s anointed. It is only when Samuel does what God wants that he is to be esteemed. Just like us…it is only when we are in God’s will that we see the righteous behavior God smiles upon. It is God’s will that we be holy like He is.

[Completed in Part II]

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