"A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before the great." Proverbs 18:16 ESV
I have heard this verse used for years in the context of God opening up doors for a person's ministry. The application was, if God has really called you to preach then you will not have to ask for a place to preach; your gift will make room for you. However, on a minister's forum that I belong to this subject arose and this scripture was quoted in the traditional way, and one of the posters pointed out that this was speaking of bribery. So, I decided to check this out and see for myself what I could find. Here is what the commentaries say:
"The “gift” (or, bribe), by a bold personification, appears as the powerful “friend at court,” who introduces another, and makes him welcome in high places." -Albert Barnes
"It is, and ever has been, a base and degrading practice in Asiatic countries, to bring a gift or present to the great man into whose presence you come. Without this there is no audience, no favor, no justice. This arose from the circumstance that men must not approach the altar of God without an offering." -Adam Clarke
"Or "enlarges him" (y); brings him out of prison, or, or out of straits and difficulties with which he, has, been pressed; or it makes way for him to a judge, and for a favourable hearing of his cause; or it enlarges his acquaintance, and gains him respect among men;" -John Gill
"Of what great force gifts (that is, bribes) are he had intimated before, Pro_17:8, Pro_17:23. Here he shows the power of gifts, that is, presents made even by inferiors to those that are above them and have much more than they have. A good present will go far, 1. Towards a man's liberty: A man's gift, if he be in prison, may procure his enlargement; there are courtiers, who, if they use their interest even for oppressed innocency, expect to receive a gratuity for it. Or, if a mean man know not how to get access to a great man, he may do it by a fee to his servants or a present to himself; those will make room for him. 2. Towards his preferment. It will bring him to sit among great men, in honour and power. See how corrupt the world is when men's gifts will not do, though ever so great; nay, will gain that for them which they are unworthy of and unfit for; and no wonder that those take bribes in their offices who gave bribes for them. Vendere jura potest, emerat ille prius - He that bought law can sell it." -Matthew Henry
I had never thought to challenge the traditional view of this text. I have changed my mind, but I would change it back for a $1,000.00.