The Parkland shooting (see our article on What the Bible Says About Violence for more info) has created some tension with the US government and politicians, as a number of the students of Marjory Stoneman-Douglas and everyday citizens want to enact gun control laws to ensure that the tragedy of Parkland never happens again.
The issue, though, is that there are a number of citizens who want to see tougher gun legislation, more strict background checks, and an increase in mental health screening for gun owners, but there are a number of citizens and politicians who don’t want tougher gun control laws because 1) they believe that tougher laws will restrict their “Second Amendment rights,” and 2) the ultimate explanation behind shootings like Parkland, the Las Vegas Massacre, and the more recent YouTube HQ shooting are mentally-challenged individuals, not guns. As one conservative Pentecostal TV personality has said, “The AR-15 did not walk into MSD high school by itself.”
And yet, there are some issues to consider with regard to guns and gun control. First, the AR-15 is a military gun whose designer and creator never intended it to be placed in the hands of non-military civilians. In an interview with NBC News, Eugene Morrison Stoner’s family said that the AR-15, the rifle used by the Parkland shooter, was never designed for ordinary citizens but only military soldiers:
“After many conversations with him, we feel his intent was that he designed it as a military rifle,” his family said, explaining that Stoner was “focused on making the most efficient and superior rifle possible for the military.”
The AR-15, designed for military use, has now been given up to the civilian market because the patents for the gun have expired. This gun, though, with its ability to shoot as high as 600-700 rounds a minute, was never designed for civilian use to ward off criminals and thieves. No civilian needs to have those kinds of capabilities in a semi-automatic rifle to use on an intruder or invader, or someone coming up to them with the goal of harming them. No one needs 600-700 rounds to be killed or deterred from harming another person. Career criminals, like thieves, are all afraid of losing their lives (it’s why many criminals run from crime scenes in the first place).
But, apart from the out-of-control gun capabilities that need regulation (everything else in American life is regulated; why not guns?), there is the issue of political manipulation taking place between US politicians, many of whom are Republicans (with some Democrats), and the National Rifle Association (or, NRA).
A recent survey of just which politicians the National Rifle Association (or NRA) supports shows that the overwhelming majority of NRA-backed politicians are Republican. Even in the case of Florida Governor Rick Scott, who failed to appear at the CNN Town Hall Meeting, he too, is a card-carrying NRA member who receives donations from the organization. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, both of Florida, have received a lot of negative press in the trail of the Parkland shooting because they’re both Republican politicians who have ties to the NRA and receive NRA funding.
And this is a problem, because it coincides with the refusal of Republican congressmen to do anything about tougher gun laws. These same politicians wouldn’t oppose tougher laws on most other regulated items — just guns. It’s not hard to understand why they stand for guns and against all regulation: regulating guns could lead to their NRA campaign donations being pulled, and they need the money to compete with other candidates who’d seek to challenge their political offices in the long run.
These campaign donations are seen by Republicans, particularly Marco Rubio, as nothing more than “they’re contributing to my interests, I’m not contributing to theirs,” he said at the CNN Town Hall Meeting. And yet, that’s not true, for, if that were the case, then the NRA wouldn’t be opposed to tougher gun regulation and greater gun control. Their anti-gun-regulation and anti-gun control stance is indicative of their own views. There was once a time when the NRA was about responsible gun control, but today the organization is about preserving guns at all costs.
The NRA is, contrary to what the organization’s spokeswoman Dana Loesch has said, a lobbying organization. As such, it will donate to whatever legislative cause it chooses. The issue is not whether or not the NRA donates to anti-gun control lawmakers; the issue pertains more to our nation’s congressmen and why they’d need to accept NRA campaign donations. If Marco Rubio truly believes he is the one driving his relationship with the NRA, then how about backing tougher gun control laws and reducing the access to the AR-15 out of the hands of civilians? With Republican and some Democratic congressmen accepting NRA funds, these politicians are guilty of accepting “Blood Money” from the NRA to turn a blind eye to gun control and restrictions.
This blood money is also “bribe money,” and with the strong Republican commitment to faith, particularly the Christian faith, it is my belief that politicians who have strong faith should live by The Book of their faith — in the case of these Christian politicians, that is, the Bible. What we find in Scripture is that it is immoral and wrong to accept bribes because, by accepting them, recipients turn a blind eye to justice and try to go around what’s right. Bribers don’t care about what they’re doing (else they wouldn’t do it), but bribe recipients are forced to pervert justice in order to accept such funds. And Republican and Democratic politicians who accept NRA funds are being bribed right out of justice.
Blood Money and Bribe Money: What the Bible Says About Bribes
If the NRA campaign donations are simply “campaign” donations and not bribes, then Republican and Democratic politicians should be more vocal about gun control since a large number of Americans support tougher gun control laws. And yet, they’re not; why is this the case? In a word, “bribes.”
“You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. 2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. 3 You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.
4 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. 5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.
6 “You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. 7 Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked. 8 And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:1-8)
The opening verses of Exodus 23 are all about integrity, righteousness, and the true. Verse 1 forbids against “a false report” and a person being “an unrighteous witness.” In verse 2, Israel was not to “pervert justice” and turn people aside from the truth. The Jews are not to show partiality to poor people in their disputes and give them the win simply because they’re poor (without considering the facts and ruling in the pursuit of truth). Verses 3 and 6 essentially say the same thing, with the Lord emphasizing just how important it is to maintain integrity in every ruling. Partiality, like false testimony, “perverts justice” and gives the impression that the truth can be bought and sold to the highest bidder.
In verse 8, after reading about the immoral nature of perverting justice, the Lord tells Israel, “And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous” (v.8). The Greek word for “bribe” δῶρα or dora, which means “gift.” This gift is given with the goal of swaying a judgment or ruling in the favor of someone or something. In the case of current gun legislation, with the NRA paying Republican politicians who are now in power, the NRA is essentially swaying politicians to their point of view.
In cases such as with the Parkland shooting, where the public is crying about the need to enact tougher gun control laws, politicians have passed legislation in Florida to provide bulletproof windows, bulletproof vests, arm teachers with financial incentives for those who choose to carry firearms and teach students, and so on. These are all good factors to include in tougher crime laws, but criminals with AR-15s can and will still outperform any armed officer with a handgun. A handgun, with its greatest capabilities, is no match for an AR-15 or another military-designed weapon. Arming teachers isn’t going to eliminate the problem, and passing the baton to states to enact these measures is no good if states simply don’t have the funds to enact these safety methods. What the US needs are tougher gun laws, and politicians would rather touch anything and everything except for gun laws because they don’t want to lose their rights to guns such as the AR-15 (which some have said is used to hunt and kill boars, wild coyotes, elk, wild pigs, and antelope jackrabbits).
There are three references to bribes in Deuteronomy. The first tells us about the character of God:
12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? 14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it. 15 The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. (Deuteronomy 10:12-17)
Moses says that the Lord is “God of gods and Lord of lords,” meaning that He’s above all others, but Moses also says that He “shows no partiality nor takes a bribe” (Deuteronomy 10:17). In other words, the Lord cannot be bribed, He cannot be manipulated or exploited into doing something that goes against who He is. He doesn’t show partiality, isn’t biased and blind to all things but instead, sees all and is only biased toward truth. God’s people are to reflect the Lord; if the Lord doesn’t accept bribes, then God’s people aren’t to accept bribes. When politicians who claim to be Christian accept NRA campaign funding, and turn a blind eye to tougher gun legislation that could make our schools and communities safer, then yes, these politicians are not living up to the Lord they claim to follow.
Deuteronomy 16:18-20 is our next stop in our discussion of justice:
18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 16:18-20)
When the people appoint judges, they are to appoint judges who will “judge the people with just judgment” (Deut. 10:18). In other words, they are to rule rightly, weighing the evidence to make a ruling — not taking bribes and letting money determine the outcome of any case. “A bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous” (v.19), which indicates that a bribe turns someone away from truth. The person who rules fairly deviates from justice when he or she is “bribed” in a certain direction. Even if the direction of that person is right, a person who is on the right side of the law need not bribe a judge in order to win his or her case. Bribes have a deleterious effect on the heart, mind, and words of the one who receives them without hesitation (which is why one shouldn’t accept them in the first place).
In Deuteronomy 27, the law of the Lord is confirmed on Mount Gerizim to bless and Mount Ebal to curse:
11 And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying, 12 “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin; 13 and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
14 “And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the men of Israel: 15 ‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’
“And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’
16 ‘Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
17 ‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
18 ‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
20 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
21 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
22 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
23 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
24 ‘Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
25 ‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
26 ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ (Deuteronomy 27:11-26)
In Deuteronomy 27:25, Moses speaks the words of the law regarding bribes: “Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.” The Greek word for “cursed” is ᾿Επικατάρατος (or epikataratos), a compound word consisting of epi (under) and katara (curse). The Greek word epikataratos means “under a curse.” The one who takes a bribe, again, the Greek word dora meaning “a gift” (though connotation tells us that the gift is designed to pervert justice). The “innocent person” here is more emphatic in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint), as the phrase used is πατάξαι ψυχὴν αἵματος ἀθῴου. The phrase is translated “to slay the soul and blood of the innocent.” The soul of the human is in its blood, that is, its life, a statement the Lord makes in the Old Testament:
10 ‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ 12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’
13 “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; 14 for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ (Leviticus 17:10-14)
The Lord tells the people here in Deuteronomy 27:25 not to be a mercenary, a hired hitman, a hired assassin, to kill an innocent person, nor to take a bribe to kill an innocent person. Again, a bribe perverts justice and makes the righteous become blind to the truth — for the bribed (the recipient of the bribe) has to do what he or she has been “paid” to do, whether it’s right or not. And perhaps the same thing can be said for the Washington politicians that are getting campaign donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA). After all, tougher gun laws could, in fact, deter killers from murdering because it would make it harder for mass murderers to obtain weapons and firearms legally and remain “under the radar.” The 19-year-old mass school shooter would’ve had to find other ways to obtain a gun, had he not been able to merely walk into a store, unsuspectingly, and obtain an AR-15.
Placing tougher gun laws on the books would frustrate the “under the radar” plans of mass murderers; after all, they’d have to go to some significant lengths to obtain firearms on the black market if they couldn’t just walk into a gun store and purchase an AR-15 without the slightest “red flags.” Part of the disguise of the Parkland shooting was that the shooter was able to obtain all that he needed without any attention. Maybe if he’d been banned from purchasing guns, regardless of whether or not his mental health had been reported, he would’ve still been deterred from shooting up his former high school.
2 Chronicles 19
Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. 2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you. 3 Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.”
4 So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the Lord God of their fathers. 5 Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”
8 Moreover in Jerusalem, for the judgment of the Lord and for controversies, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the chief fathers of Israel, when they returned to Jerusalem. 9 And he commanded them, saying, “Thus you shall act in the fear of the Lord, faithfully and with a loyal heart: 10 Whatever case comes to you from your brethren who dwell in their cities, whether of bloodshed or offenses against law or commandment, against statutes or ordinances, you shall warn them, lest they trespass against the Lord and wrath come upon you and your brethren. Do this, and you will not be guilty. 11 And take notice: Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters; also the Levites will be officials before you. Behave courageously, and the Lord will be with the good.” (2 Chronicles 19:1-11)
Jehoshaphat was a king here, as can be seen, who enacted some godly reform during his time on the throne. He places judges throughout every city in his territory and tells them to judge righteously, “for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment” (2 Chronicles 19:6). In other words, Jehoshaphat tells the judges that the Lord is watching their rulings, so they better rule in accordance with truth because they face the judgment of God if they do not. In verse 7, the king says, “let the fear of the Lord be upon you” (2 Chronicles 19:7), that with the Lord, there is “no partiality, nor taking of bribes.” The judges should rule in the fear of God, reverencing the Lord as The Judge of all judges, and ruling as representatives of Him in all the land. They are not to show partiality, which we’ve read about in Exodus 23 earlier, nor are they to take bribes. Bribes are designed to manipulate and change the ruling or judgment of the judge; that is, a bribe causes someone to pervert justice by ruling against their conscience for the sake of financial benefit.
This is how bribes work: if an organization like the National Rifle Association wants a politician to “keep the legislative hands off guns,” so to speak, then the NRA funds the campaign of someone who is pro-guns. That person is then bound to defend guns in all they say and do, to not restrict gun access and to keep regulators away from guns because, if they don’t, then the NRA will pull its campaign funding. The king of Judah (Jehoshaphat) told the judges to remember that they would answer to God for their judgments, that the Lord was present in the judgment, that the Lord would not be okay with their perversion of justice.
Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
2 He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
3 He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved. (Psalm 15:1-5)
Psalm 15 (Psalm 14 in the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament) relates to those who can stand in God’s presence, those whom God approves, and we see that only the righteous are approved by God. First, he walks uprightly and “works righteousness,” meaning that he does what is right. The godly man “speaks truth in his heart,” meaning that he lives out the truth within, that he exalts the truth. He doesn’t “backbite with his tongue” (Psalm 15:3), meaning that he doesn’t talk about his neighbor and doesn’t gossip against others regarding that which he doesn’t know. He doesn’t take up an issue against his friend, but stands with his friend in times of trouble. Remember, the Lord is faithful, and He expects us to be faithful, true, and honest in all our relationships, acquaintances, and dealings.
Those who want to abide in God’s tabernacle, in the place where He chose to dwell, is one who despise vile or evil persons but honors those who are God-fearing and righteous. As David says in Psalm 26 (below) and Psalm 1, the righteous or blessed man is one who watches the company he keeps. Godly people watch the company they keep. By choosing his friends and closest associates wisely, the godly man demonstrates his wisdom, intellect, and understanding.
In Psalm 15:4, the wise person “swears to his own hurt and does not change.” That is, the person makes a vow and commits to it, even if he or she doesn’t come out on top financially (that is, they lose money, for example). A person makes a promise and fulfills it, even though he or she stands to lose for following through. In other words, a godly person doesn’t make a vow, then backtrack when he or she realizes that it’ll cost more than previously agreed or cost them an investment they thought they had. A person that promises something follows through with it, makes good on his or her word. As my grandfather always says, “your word is your bond.” When you promise something, you’re bound, obligated, to fulfill it and bring it to pass unless extenuating circumstances prevent it.
In verse 5, the godly person who stands in the Lord’s tabernacle is one who doesn’t take usury, interest, from those to whom he lends money. The Greek word for “usury,” tokos, refers to “breeding” money, the act of growing money beyond its original amount (this is what interest is: money that is charged beyond the principal amount, or the original amount one borrowed). The righteous man is one who doesn’t charge extra beyond what he or she lends to another; rather, one only mandates the return of the original amount he or she gave to the recipient. If one gives $50,000, then he or she requests $50,000 back — not $75,000.
The godly man or woman doesn’t accept a bribe against the innocent. The idea here is that of a judge who gets a bribe to rule against an innocent person; a judge makes a decision in favor of the guilty because he or she has been paid off to do so. In other words, the person who accepts bribes sends a message that he or she has no conviction, that “whoever pays the most, wins the most.” The righteous man shouldn’t accept bribes so that his judgment is righteous. There is no righteousness in accepting bribes.
Vindicate me, O Lord,
For I have walked in my integrity.
I have also trusted in the Lord;
I shall not slip.
2 Examine me, O Lord, and prove me;
Try my mind and my heart.
3 For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Your truth.
4 I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,
Nor will I go in with hypocrites.
5 I have hated the assembly of evildoers,
And will not sit with the wicked.
6 I will wash my hands in innocence;
So I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
And tell of all Your wondrous works.
8 Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.
9 Do not gather my soul with sinners,
Nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 In whose hands is a sinister scheme,
And whose right hand is full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity;
Redeem me and be merciful to me.
12 My foot stands in an even place;
In the congregations I will bless the Lord. (Psalm 26:1-12)
In verse 1 of Psalm 26, David says “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity.” The Greek word for “vindicate” here in verse 1 is Κρῖνόν, meaning “to judge” (Psalm 26 in our English Bible is Psalm 25 in the Septuagint or Greek Old Testament, for those who are wondering). The judgment of the Lord in the life of a righteous person is that one who walks with God and does what is right will be vindicated in judgment. This explains the translation of the New King James Version (NKJV).
As for the end of the sentence, David says not only to be vindicated but ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐν ἀκακίᾳ μου ἐπορεύθην, a Greek phrase that means “for I in my integrity have proceeded.” The word for integrity here is ἀκακίᾳ, a word that means “without guile” or “without fraud.” The word itself comes from the Greek word “kakos,” meaning “wickedness, evil, or trouble.” The prefix “α-” means “without” or “against,” so the one who has integrity (or ἀκακίᾳ) is the one who is against evil, against trouble, against wickedness, one who walks upright and has character and conviction. David says that he has walked in uprightness, conviction, and character, that he hasn’t turned aside to wickedness, evil, or trouble.
At the end of verse 1, David says that he has trusted (the Greek word ἐλπίζων means “hoping,” or “trusting,” a word used with regard to faith in God) in the Lord, and that, as a result of that trust, he will not slip. This means that those who slip and “fall” spiritually are those who lose faith in the Lord or fail to act on the faith they have. What we gather from verse 1 is that David has integrity, that David is godly.
In verse 3, David says “I have walked in Your truth.” It’s obvious in reading this that those who walk in truth are those who do what is right and what is good. David has already said that he has integrity, character and conviction that are “without guile” and “without fraud,” so we know that David has done his best to be a godly man before God. In verses 4 and 5, David divorces himself from deeds that would compromise his integrity and character: “I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, nor will I go in with hypocrites. I have hated the assembly of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.”
The Greek phrase for “idolatrous mortals” is συνεδρίου ματαιότητος, a phrase that refers to “the council (συνεδρίου) of vanity or vain persons (ματαιότητος). The Greek word συνεδρίου refers to the Sanhedrin, the council that was appointed to sit together (hence the word sunedriou), whether of twenty-three or seventy-one rabbis in ancient Israel. There are a good 24 references to Sanhedrin in the New Testament, and we are told by the New Testament writers that the Sanhedrin tried Jesus at His trial (Matthew 26:57), that the Sanhedrin, of which part was comprised of the Pharisees, tried their best to find evidence against Jesus. The prophet Gamaliel, who speaks out in the Book of Acts, was part of the Sanhedrin, and this is the same Sanhedrin that hears Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 before stoning him to death (Acts 7:1-60).
When David says “I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,” he is saying that he has not been in conspiracy with vain persons. The act of “sitting” means to partner with people, to go along with them, to agree with them and identify with a particular group. David is saying here that he hasn’t joined himself to vain persons, those who put their faith in things rather than in God. Again, keep in mind that the whole goal of Psalm 26 is that David wants God to know of his integrity and uprightness in heart. So when he gives examples such as “I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,” he is saying that he hasn’t kept company with wrongdoers, with vain persons, with those who do not worship God.
David also says “nor will I go in with hypocrites,” with hypocrites being people who say one thing and do something else, those whose words and actions do not align as they should. Hypocrites are those who give “lip service” to the truth but do not do it. The word “hypocrite” in Psalm 26:4 is not the Greek word hupokrites but the Greek word paranomia, a word that means “against the law.” David says he will not sit or enter into friendships or alliances with those who work “against the law” and live their lives as rebels of God’s law. Hupokrites in the Greek is a compound word consisting of the Greek words hupo (under) and krites (judgment, condemnation); put the two words together, and you understand that a hypocrite is “under judgment” or “under condemnation.”
In verse 5, David says that “I have hated the assembly of evildoers,” with David referring to keeping the company of those who do evil. The word “assembly” here in verse 5 is the Greek word ἐκκλησίαν, from which the word for church comes in the New Testament (ἐκκλησία). The word for “evildoers,” Greek πονηρευομένων, is a similar word for “evil” (here it represents a participle, “the one doing evil”). David says here that he will not sit with those who do evil, that he will not be a partaker of their evil deeds.
David says that he will “wash my hands in innocence,” referring to his hands not being guilty of any wrongdoing. David’s words here in Psalm 26 are similar to what Pilate says when Jesus is handed over to him for trial:
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They said, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” (Matthew 27:15-24)
When Pilate interrogates Jesus, he finds no fault in Him and washes his hands to say “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person.” He wanted it known that he was not responsible for a sentence against Jesus, whom he believed was a just man who had done no wrong. David says he has washed his hands in innocence, meaning that he has washed his hands and cleansed his hands from any impurity. That is, he wants to keep himself clean from evil and free from wickedness. He doesn’t want his hands stained with the blood of innocent life (doesn’t want to take innocent life or be responsible for the death of an innocent life through false slander, false witness, or false judgment).
Do not gather my soul with sinners,
Nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 In whose hands is a sinister scheme,
And whose right hand is full of bribes. (Psalm 26:9-10)
David doesn’t want to be identified with 1) sinners and 2) bloodthirsty men, those who seek to kill and seek the deaths of innocent men; in other words, violent individuals who seek to kill. In verse 10, David says that these men have “a sinister scheme,” the Greek phrase ἐν χερσὶν ἀνομίαι properly translated as “in their hands are iniquity” (or wickedness). The hands of these evildoers is full of wickedness and lawless (“lawlessness” is another meaning of the word anomiai), meaning that they live to do evil and commit violence, to set traps for individuals, to watch people fall, to watch them stumble and have bad things happen to them. They live to rob, steal, murder, and plunder their neighbor. David says that he doesn’t want to have any connection with these individuals.
Finally, the right hand of these evildoers is “filled with bribes.” Their “right hand” is a reference to a place of power, their strength, which means that they are always trying to bribe individuals to get their way. In modern-day terms, it appears as though the NRA’s metaphorical right hand is “filled with bribes” because of all the money they’re paying Republican congressmen to keep gun control “off the table” of the governmental agenda. Senator John McCain of Arizona, for example, has received $7.7 million in NRA campaign donations for one year, while Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina has received $6.9 million in NRA campaign donations. All these millions are not given without these congressmen and others serving some benefit or purpose for the NRA.
If you look at the New York Times link above (regarding the overwhelming majority of NRA-backed congressmen being Republican), you’ll see that the top 10 senators in the US congress, as of six months ago, received at least $42.3 million in campaign donations (and that’s just adding them together as approximations). The top 10 House members received approximately $4 million in NRA campaign donations, with the total being at least $46.3 million. No organization tosses $46.3 million to anyone without something in return. Apple and Samsung don’t toss millions to celebrities without expecting them to promote these smartphone makers in tech commercials; the same goes for the NRA.
These millions are given for the purpose of promoting the NRA’s agenda in legislation: that is, to turn a blind eye to legislation that could restrict gun access and gun capabilities for themselves and for gun makers who are also joined to the NRA. One thing Democratic Senator Bill Nelson said at the CNN Town Hall Meeting that the Florida state government paid gun maker Colt (the arms manufacturer behind the AR-15) to come to Florida and manufacture the AR-15. The AR-15 used to shoot up the Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School students was manufactured right there in the state of Florida. The Florida state government did not intentionally make a deal with Colt in order to see its citizens killed, but the point I’m making here (that so many others have made) is that, when state governments and organizations make deals of this kind, unavoidable consequences follow — both good and bad. As said above, the AR-15 is a gun that was never intended for civilian use.
That didn’t matter to the gun industry; what matters to the gun industry is making a profit. While all companies exist to make profit, profit should always be made in the context of ethics and morality. If a drug dealer makes money off drugs that are designed to kill and sells drugs that are banned, he is arrested and charged, and his money seized from him. And, while the AR-15 can be legally purchased, it was always restricted to military use. It should’ve never been made available to the consumer public at large. Surely, there are other guns on the market with more limited capabilities that can protect someone from bodily harm.
David’s words in Psalm 26 are worth pondering, for they remind us that godliness includes the company we keep: if we’re keeping company with evildoers and wicked individuals, and “sitting” with them and being known in the world by our relationships with them, then we’re living wrongly. I know: “Jesus ate with publicans and sinners,” you’ll say. Yes, He did, but His constant group was the disciples, twelve men that believed in Him and followed Him around. Jesus ate with the twelve (and others, consisting of the seventy), slept in the same place they did, walked with them, talked with them, taught them, and even had them near Him when He prepared to be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus did not make publicans and sinners His “go-to” people when He wanted to share the best and deepest of Himself. He shared His true self with the disciples, washed their feet, and ate His last meal, the Passover, with His disciples.
David’s words about staying away from evildoers and lawless individuals is a reminder of his words from Psalm 1, where he says that the man who is blessed is one who does not “walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night” (paraphrase, Psalm 1:1-2).
27 He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live. (Proverbs 15:27)
Proverbs 15:7 is another verse that applies to our discussion of the NRA’s “blood money” bribes that it gives to politicians.
The Greek verse is as follows:
ἐξόλλυσιν ἑαυτὸν ὁ δωρολήμπτης,
ὁ δὲ μισῶν δώρων λήμψεις σῴζεται.
The Greek word δωρολήμπτης means “one who receives bribes.” The word ἐξόλλυσιν means “to destroy,” so the one who takes bribes “destroys himself,” the Greek and English texts say. The second Greek phrase above says (in English), “but the one who hating to receive bribes will be saved,” or “will live,” as the NKJV translation of Proverbs 15:27 reads. The problem with the NKJV translation is that it uses the word “troubles” for the Greek word ἐξόλλυσιν, when the word means “destroys.” “Troubles” and “destroys” are two different words with two different connotations: “destroys” implies there is an ultimately lethal nature to bribes, while “troubles” could simply mean “has a little fear here and there, finds himself in a few tight situations,” and so on. The one who receives bribes is one who spiritually destructs, whose actions lead to a life of ultimately, spiritual and eternal destruction and death.
Thus, the one who is bribed and receives bribes “destroys himself,” and this destruction is eternal, spiritual in nature. The one who hates bribes “will be saved,” referring to the salvation of his soul. The Lord will not save someone who is swayed by bribes, who receives bribes, who lives to receive money so that his or her judgments are swayed by “wherever the money blows,” so to speak. Bribes involve money, and Paul tells Timothy the greatest response about the love of money that one can find in all of Scripture:
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:6-11)
Paul says here that those who love money “fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9). The love of money leads to eternal damnation, eternal perishing, away from eternal life, and there are many who find themselves having fallen prey to it because they did not heed the words of Scripture and put their hope in Christ as their “pearl of great price” instead of trusting in actual pearls, silver, gold, and dollars. This is what the writer of Proverbs 15:27 is getting at: loving and receiving bribes can and will destroy your soul and your eternal state with God. It happened to Judas (called “the son of perdition”), and no human is immune to it.
23 A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back
To pervert the ways of justice. (Proverbs 17:23)
The wicked man is the one who accepts a bribe (what Scripture calls “a gift”) and hides it “to pervert the ways of justice.” In other words, the wicked man accepts secret gifts, that he doesn’t want anyone to know about (a tell-tale sign that these gifts are not innocent and kind), and he accepts these gifts “to pervert the ways of justice.” He accepts these gifts to sway judgment in favor of the one who spends the most money, writes him the biggest check, gives him the largest campaign donation, and so on.
λαμβάνοντος δῶρα ἐν κόλπῳ ἀδίκως οὐ κατευοδοῦνται ὁδοί,
ἀσεβὴς δὲ ἐκκλίνει ὁδοὺς δικαιοσύνης. (Greek verse, Proverbs 17:23)
The Greek verse is translated: “receiving/taking a gift in the bosom (Greek, kolpo) unjustly does not prosper paths, and the ungodly turns aside from the way of righteousness.”
The gift here is a bribe, since it refers to injustice and unrighteousness. It isn’t just any gift, but a gift given to sway one’s judgment and ruling, to manipulate a given decision. The person hides the bribe “in the bosom,” close to his chest, as a means of keeping it secret. The NKJV translates it as being “behind the back,” but the gift is not placed behind the back. Of course, if the bribe were placed behind the back, it would be to keep it secret; and yet, the bribed places it in his bosom, close to his heart, to also keep it close and away from the eyes of the world, so keeping it close to the bosom shows how much he cherishes the money, the financial bribe. Keeping it close to the chest shows just how much he loves money, as he doesn’t want to lose it, doesn’t want to misplace his bribe money. He is vain, trusting in his riches, cherishing financial gifts more than he cherishes sound and righteous judgments. Would to God he’d keep his integrity as close to his heart as he did his bribes!
Proverbs 17:23 says that the ungodly person “turns aside from the way of righteousness,” meaning that it isn’t a good thing to accept a bribe. Bribes have spiritual implications and consequences: one cannot accept bribe money, and then not make decisions in accordance with the bribe. The same goes for NRA-backed politicians who accept campaign donations and then try to maintain their own convictions. At the CNN Town Hall Meeting, Florida Senator Marco Rubio claimed the same: “The NRA doesn’t pay me, they support my interests. I don’t support theirs.” And yet, that’s not true. For Rubio to continue accepting financial backing from the NRA, he is, in effect, being used as a puppet of theirs to fulfill their agenda. If Rubio is truly a Christian man with Christian conviction, then to receive bribes leads to a deviation from the righteous path. As we’ve seen earlier in Proverbs 15:27, the one who accepts bribes “destroys himself.” This means that to accept bribes is to ultimately destroy one’s soul, to corrupt one’s soul. When one starts to accept bribes, he or she sets himself/herself on a collision course with spiritual destruction that can’t be undone.
4 The king establishes the land by justice,
But he who receives bribes overthrows it. (Proverbs 29:4)
Rough Translation: “a righteous king establishes the land, but a lawless man destroys/ruins it.”
When the leader of the land is righteous, we’re told, the land is established. Law and order reigns, and citizens are equally treated and equally commanded to obey the laws. Justice prevails because there’s one law and everyone follows it. When a lawless man [the Greek word paranomia refers to someone who is “against” ( para) law ( nomia)] is in control of the land, the land is destroyed or ruined because the lawless man will accept bribes and have his opinion swayed by corruption. The law and bribes are opposed to one another; the law is against bribes, and bribes pervert or ruin the law. Therefore, to accept a bribe is to go against the law, and one who upholds the law does not accept bribes. The NRA doesn’t agree with this stance, however, having donated at least $30.3 million to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump when he ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016. The NRA seems to think that money is the key to everything, that, when money is given in “campaign donations” (a nice, positive term for “bribes”), it seems to accomplish good in the world.
The problem is that, when money is given to sway the laws of the land, those who bribe politicians, and politicians themselves, are corrupt, are wicked, are ungodly. Donald Trump is one who has lots of money, and the money, some say, is one of the major reasons why he got accepted (according to many, Donald Trump wouldn’t be ruthless because he wouldn’t need the money of others). And yet, Trump received so much money from the NRA. No one donates $30 million to a presidential candidate without wanting to protect their gun laws in return; when Trump accepted the NRA funds, he accepted “hush money,” that he wouldn’t touch gun legislation and toughen gun control. Donald Trump’s money for his own business was a problem early on after he was elected President, and he was told that he couldn’t keep his hands in his own money as the leader of the country (though leaving his money in the hands of his sons isn’t exactly ethical and doesn’t necessarily ensure that DJT won’t put his hands in it).
And yet, how ethical is it for him to keep his hands off his business money but receive campaign donations from an organization that doesn’t want gun laws to be toughen — a solution that could help to save our nation’s citizens?
7 Surely oppression destroys a wise man’s reason,
And a bribe debases the heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:7)
“A bribe debases the heart.” The word for “debases” here is the Greek word ἀπόλλυσι or apollusi, which means “destroys.” The word “debase” refers to corruption, and apollusi refers to the same thing — except, the Greek word actually refers to spiritual destruction, not just moral destruction. Bribes, as we’ve seen in Proverbs, destroy the spiritual component of man. The person who accepts bribes loses all sense of right and wrong until he or she eventually experiences spiritual damnation and destruction because one cannot gain the whole world without losing one’s soul. The person who chases profit over God is the person who will “be a Judas,” who’ll sell his or her soul for thirty pieces of silver.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!
22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man! (Isaiah 5:20-23)
In Isaiah 5, the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah that those who are known for drinking and mixing drinks will face terrible consequences: “Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink” (Isaiah 5:22). Those who choose to be bartenders (valiant for mixing intoxicating drink), and those who choose to brag about their drinking abilities (“woe to men mighty at drinking wine”) are those who are accursed, the Lord says.
In other words, life shouldn’t be spent drinking or mixing drinks for others. This is probably one of those verses used to discourage Christians from working in liquor stores and ABC stores worldwide; after all, Christians, who should preach, teach, and live the gospel, shouldn’t put the wine to their brother’s lips because we are our brother’s keepers.
In the midst of this, we read that there are men who “justify the wicked for a bribe,” those who let wickedness and iniquity run rampant because they receive a bribe. Remember, as we’ve seen in the Book of Proverbs, bribes pervert the judgments of the righteous, twisting their words and blinding their eyes to the truth.
He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:
16 He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure. (Isaiah 33:15-16)
In Isaiah 33:15, we read that the one whose “water will be sure” (v.16) is one”who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes.” Let’s look at the Greek phrase:
μισῶν ἀνομίαν καὶ ἀδικίαν καὶ τὰς χεῖρας ἀποσειόμενος ἀπὸ δώρων
The phrase is translated, “hating lawlessness and unrighteousness and the hands shaking away from bribes.” The “hands shaking away from bribes” can be summed up as one who “refuses bribes,” who shakes one’s hands to reject bribes as if to say, “No, I don’t want them.” This tells us that it is wise to reject bribes and to make judgments on the basis of the evidence, not side pay. Our nation’s congressmen are legislators, designed to make our laws that are to protect us, and when congressmen accept campaign funds from the NRA, they are being blackmailed into keeping silent on gun violence and the problematic nature of gun capabilities in 2018.
6 “Look, the princes of Israel: each one has used his power to shed blood in you. 7 In you they have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the fatherless and the widow. 8 You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths. 9 In you are men who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness. 10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; and another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have made profit from your neighbors by extortion, and have forgotten Me,” says the Lord God. (Ezekiel 22:6-12)
Ezekiel 22 involves a discussion of bribes, and how the nation of Israel has taken bribes “to shed blood,” to murder innocent neighbors, but the bribery going on is only one of the terrible deeds the nation is committing. First, in verse 6, the nation is violent and sheds blood. Next, they have “made light of father and mother” (v.7), a reference to their lack of disrespect for their parents. They have oppressed the stranger, again, another violation of God’s law, for the Lord told them to not oppress the stranger:
21 “ You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)
9 “Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
5 “For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, 6 if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, 7 then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. (Jeremiah 7:5-7)
29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. (Ezekiel 22:29)
There is not only injustice, but also sexual sin: in verse 10, sons have uncovered their father’s nakedness; they have violated (or humbled) women during their monthly menstruation (v.10b); next, some men within Israel’s walls have slept with their neighbor’s wife, which is a sin before the Lord, as the Lord commanded against it in His Law:
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)
19 ‘Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness as long as she is in her customary impurity. 20 Moreover you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her. (Leviticus 18:19-20)
10 ‘The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)
21 ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’ (Deuteronomy 5:21)
Can a man take fire to his bosom,
And his clothes not be burned?
28 Can one walk on hot coals,
And his feet not be seared?
29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
Whoever touches her shall not be innocent. (Proverbs 6:27-29)
7 “How shall I pardon you for this?
Your children have forsaken Me
And sworn by those that are not gods.
When I had fed them to the full,
Then they committed adultery
And assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.
8 They were like well-fed lusty stallions;
Every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife. (Jeremiah 5:7-8)
In Ezekiel 22:12, to be specific, the Lord says that the nation of Israel has “take[n] bribes to shed blood,” meaning that they have assassinated innocent people because of bribes — whether those bribes have been used to hire mercenaries, hit men, or assassins, or whether judges have been bribed to condemn innocent people to death for crimes which they did not commit, and so on. Bribes are not to be given or received, but Israel has received as many as it could and put people to death for money. Here the Lord is displeased with all of it.
They hate the one who rebukes in the gate,
And they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.
11 Therefore, because you tread down the poor
And take grain taxes from him,
Though you have built houses of hewn stone,
Yet you shall not dwell in them;
You have planted pleasant vineyards,
But you shall not drink wine from them.
12 For I know your manifold transgressions
And your mighty sins:
Afflicting the just and taking bribes;
Diverting the poor from justice at the gate.
13 Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time,
For it is an evil time. (Amos 5:10-13)
The Lord tells His people here through the prophet Amos that they will not prosper because of their evil deeds. What evil deeds have they committed? “You tread down the poor and take grain taxes from him,” meaning that they take more money from the poor (who already have little money as it is). In other words, by taking grain taxes, some of the poor are likely forced to give up even the shirt on their backs, or the bed on which they sleep. Since Israel has committed these sins by oppressing the poor, the Lord says that they will not get to enjoy their houses and vineyards that they have planted. In verse 12, the Lord says, “For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins,” a statement that is then followed with specific sins of the nation: “afflicting the just and taking bribes.” Here we see that judgments are perverted and twisted because those who are in a position of judgment and authority are being paid off to rule against the righteous and innocent.
To take bribes and be a judge is to “afflict the just,” to add a burden to their burdens they’re already shouldering because their fate lies in the hands not of God (the judge should rule justly, as God has commanded), but rather, in the whim of a judge who can be bought and sold for the slightest dollar. When justice can be bought and sold, then justice is no longer justice. And that’s the response that applies well to the current climate of the NRA and politicians: when politicians need the NRA to fund them, and their laws all maintain a “hands off” approach to gun reform and tougher gun legislation, it’s obvious that NRA “blood money” is driving the goal of remaining silent about how to address gun violence and gun control. In other words, since the NRA is paying good money for politicians to “keep quiet” about gun control altogether, then politicians choose not to address it. There was some good that came out of the tragedy of the Parkland shooting, such as the moving of the purchase age from 18 to 21, but, if a shooter wants to shoot up a school and take the lives of innocent victims, then he or she will do it: whether they’re 18, 21, or 43. The age is not the biggest factor in the shooting, but rather, 1) the mental health of the shooter, which is still up for debate, and 2) the fact that this mentally-challenged individual had access to guns such as the AR-15 that splice organs and aim to dissect individuals — not merely kill them.
The last two references of the Old Testament that mention bribes are found in the prophetic book of Micah. In the first reference, Israel is sinning without care and seems to presume that nothing terrible will happen as a result:
9 Now hear this,
You heads of the house of Jacob
And rulers of the house of Israel,
Who abhor justice
And pervert all equity,
10 Who build up Zion with bloodshed
And Jerusalem with iniquity:
11 Her heads judge for a bribe,
Her priests teach for pay,
And her prophets divine for money.
Yet they lean on the Lord, and say,
“Is not the Lord among us?
No harm can come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you
Zion shall be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins,
And the mountain of the temple
Like the bare hills of the forest. (Micah 3:9-12)
In Micah 3:11, we see the corruption in the land: first, the heads “judge for a bribe,” a reference to judges who take bribes. They rule based on who pays them money and how much, again, selling justice for a nickel rather than pursuing truth. The priests are teaching for money, which shouldn’t be, because the Lord feeds them from His table. They are to teach because it’s right, not because of pay. The prophets “divine” or “interpret” or “speak of what is to come” for money. In other words, money is the prophetic, priestly, and judicial motivation to do one’s job, rather than the inner sense of peace, joy, and satisfaction that one has lived up to his or her responsibilities. There was a time in life (I remember it growing up) when people felt good about doing the right thing because it was right, not because of pay. In today’s world, it seems as though money is the gateway to everything for the greedy among us who chase money like some chase bubbles in the wind or the wind itself.
Woe is me!
For I am like those who gather summer fruits,
Like those who glean vintage grapes;
There is no cluster to eat
Of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires.
2 The faithful man has perished from the earth,
And there is no one upright among men.
They all lie in wait for blood;
Every man hunts his brother with a net.
3 That they may successfully do evil with both hands—
The prince asks for gifts,
The judge seeks a bribe,
And the great man utters his evil desire;
So they scheme together. (Micah 7:1-3)
We’re told here in Micah 7 that “the judge seeks a bribe.” It’s one thing for judges to be given bribes, but in this case, the land is so corrupt that the judges live to accept bribes. All they have on their minds is “money, money, money,” and they are known for taking bribes. Remember, these bribes are “gifts,” but the context alone tells us that these gifts are no ordinary gifts. “So they scheme together” (Micah 7:3), the judge and the prince and the evil persons of Israel scheme together. This is the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” statement in a different wording than we would normally give it.
This study has investigated what Scripture says about bribes, all while applying it to the situation of the NRA, politicians, and campaign funds that have been used to “buy” the silence of lawmakers and congressmen. Whatever sincere purposes the NRA has, I’m sure the NRA could look just as sincere (if not moreso) if it retracted all political campaign donations to Republican and Democratic congressmen and focused on writing letters and meeting with congressmen to let their voices be heard. When all the chips fall, the National Rifle Association gives bribes to congressmen so that national legislation can be written in their favor, to their liking.
The current scene involves the use of assault weapons such as the AR-15 that have been used in mass school shootings across this country over the last few years. These guns can shoot an impressive 600-700 rounds of ammo per minute, yet Congress (now led by Republicans) have turned a blind eye to these things. The Florida State Government gave financial incentives to gun maker Colt Corporation to plant a business in Florida and manufacturer guns in-state so as to make money, but how much has it profited the state, really? If anything, having guns made in Florida has only made it easier to get military guns and has encouraged an uptick in mass school shootings. Lawmakers have secured agreements for profit without realizing the “cost” of doing business with gunmakers.
This article was written to take a look at the bribe money being received. Sure, lawmakers would say that the National Rifle Association is giving them “gifts,” supporting them in their political campaigns, but all special interest groups such as the NRA have special interest needs that drive them. The NRA didn’t give the President $30 million in his political campaign so that he would be free to pursue tougher gun legislation; rather, the NRA has paid the President so that he would continue to keep gun laws lax in the organization’s favor. But the question, as always, is “why”; why would the NRA donate for such a cause? The answer is found in that the NRA consists of gunmakers who support it — and the NRA campaign funds are given by gunmakers such as the Colt corporation to the President so that he’ll continue to support gunmakers in the legislation he passes. The majority of Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives are being funded by the NRA for a reason. No one gives away millions “just to see another smile.”
This money, though, is bribe money, because, whether gunmakers and legislators realize it or not, tougher gun laws could, like tougher drug laws in the current opioid crisis, could make our streets better, our schools safer, and our world more peaceful. Gunmakers and pro-gun advocates only see their Second Amendment rights at risk, though they aren’t. No one is crying for all guns to be taken away. What is being said, though, is that guns, weapons designed to kill, must be regulated. Anything that puts human life at risk must be regulated. Notice that the President of the US is currently trying to “crack down” on the opioid crisis and opioid addiction by making it easier for patients to recycle their drugs, for example, and drop them off in public drop-off bins across the US — and yet, he can see opioid addiction as caused by both people and drugs and regulate drugs to make the country safer. Yet, when it comes to guns, he wants to simply focus on mental health and have more mental health testing while doing nothing about guns.
Drug overdoses and opioid addictions are a matter of people, too, but Donald Trump is still trying to regulate drugs and drug doses; why, then, can’t Trump see the problem with increasing mental health services but not regulate guns when it comes to mass school shooters with mental health issues? Regulating opioids, but not guns, is hypocritical, and a sign that NRA-backed politicians don’t want to face their moral convictions because to do so would mean parting ways with the NRA, to “bite the hand that feeds them,” as the saying goes. The last thing politicians want to do is destroy their campaign funding that they believe will help them or their political party win the next election.
This, then, is the crux of the problem: politicians have some sense of conviction, but the bribe gifts of the NRA (hint: money) are what’s holding them back from passing tougher gun laws. And this confirms what our study has presented us with: that is, that bribes pervert justice. Justice has been swayed and twisted with regard to gun reform because the lawmakers, those who could change and shape the culture of this country, have been bribed into silence and told to “turn a blind eye” to gun violence, all in the name of “securing and maintaining Second Amendment rights.” Tougher gun laws could prevent the number of shooting victims, for example, but politicians are currently justifying the existence of the AR-15 on the market to “hunt boars and wild pigs.”
But, to pro-gun advocates and staunch Second Amendment advocates, I ask this question: are guns and animals more important than people? Is this extreme pro-gun stance consistent with our Lord’s values and His wisdom regarding earthly life? The Lord has told us that we are more important than the birds of the air and the lilies of the field:
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:25-33)
15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. (Luke 13:15-17)
Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. 2 And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
4 But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. 5 Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” 6 And they could not answer Him regarding these things. (Luke 14:1-6)
Guns have been defended because they’re used to hunt animals, but surely, there are other non-assault rifles that can hunt animals. My grandfather has a hunting rifle that is not an assault rifle, and he still hunts deer and shoots at squirrels to keep them out of his garden. Again, no one needs an AR-15, and humans are of more importance in the kingdom of God than animals. Whatever hunting tools we use, they shouldn’t continue to be used in mass school shootings. We can regulate these guns to hunting uses only, allow them to be leased for hunting purposes, mandate assault weapons licenses for them and special hunting licenses, and even provide a renting system for them (eliminate AR-15 ownership altogether), without just leaving lax gun laws that will motivate future mass school shooters.
Whatever argument pro-gun politicians give, it all stems from the NRA and its “blood money.” When an organization gives money to prevent stricter laws regarding its personal interests, that organization is bribing lawmakers. And the real tragedy of all is that the laws of our country that should be about justice and truth, are all about the “Almighty Dollar.” Republican Christians know in the back of their minds that NRA bribe money/”blood money” is displeasing to the Lord.