27 The greedy bring ruin to their households,
but the one who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
The unethical person may tell himself he is bending the rules for his family’s sake, but in reality he is risking their ruin. The problem with corruption is that you get away with it, until you don’t. Temptation says “it’s just this once,” but it never is – as there is no lasting satisfaction for the greedy. When the fraud and graft are finally exposed, the reputation of the whole family is destroyed. “But the one who hates bribes will live” – when corruption goes sideways despair is at hand, and many can no longer live with themselves. What begins with a payoff, turns out to cost you everything.
“The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” It is prudence which considers the consequences of an act, protecting one from the temptation of haste. Have you ever blurted something out, only to think of a much better response a moment later? But the contrast here is between good and evil speech, both of which are consistent with the condition of the heart. No amount of self-restraint can contain the evil speech of a corrupted heart, which is only a symptom of a much deeper affliction.
“The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” This may at first seem judgmental on the Lord’s part, but in truth it is a proof of his benevolence. In both cases the Lord grants the desire of the heart with respect to himself; the wicked want nothing to do with him while the righteous seek his presence. As C.S. Lewis observed, “there are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God ‘thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says ‘thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”