Thank you, my dear friend, for your excellent question. I think I can see why you ask this, because while the word “gift” is used in the Old King James,” or “present” in the New King James, we find that in many other translations, the word is rendered “bribe”. However, when the word “bribe” is used today, the meaning often takes on a darker meaning than we might suppose from the  context of Proverbs 17:8. First of all, I’ll show you what I mean with some other Old Testament verses using the same word translated as a bribe.

I studied this portion with one of the elders in our local assembly, and he suggested the following verses as examples of that darker meaning; the verses all  contain the same or a similar word for the “gift” or bribe.” Proverbs 21:14 (NASB), “A gift in secret subdues anger, And a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.” Isaiah 1:23 (NASB), “Your rulers are rebels And companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe And chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, Nor does the widow’s plea come before them.” Amos 5:12 (NASB), “For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, You who distress the righteous and accept bribes And turn aside the poor in the gate”.

So, in these verses above, you can see the concept of the “bribe” as an influence; when used as an influence of evil motives, it takes on that darker meaning, but it can also be an influence for good, as I believe we might see in the verse you  suggested in Proverbs 17.

Now, back to your verse, Proverbs 17:8, “A bribe is a charm in the sight of its owner; Wherever he turns, he prospers”. The word charm would be understood as a stone of favor, so in this passage, the two halves of the sentence would be in agreement that a gift, or bribe in the sense of a gift given to produce a good influence is a stone of favor, or a precious stone, which results in the desired effect of prospering in the intent of the one who uses it.

Now, just some thoughts about the Proverbs, and how Christians might receive the principles we find there. The Proverbs are certainly the Word of God, and as such are to be believed and applied. But I say “principles” because the truth in the Proverbs speaks to believers walking through a world confused and ruined by sin, adhering to the wisdom of almighty God, Christ being the perfect wisdom of God which leads to life, and helps those who take it to heart from stumbling or being caught in the snares of the world. For we who are Christians, we know that we have received great Grace in having been redeemed and brought into the very family of God; and yet, it is the fear of the Lord, the Godly respect for Him, that reminds us of how we should walk in this scene, being wise in the ways of the Lord, and simple as to evil, yet alert to the snares of Satan.

One other thought about the Proverbs—if you are a believer, these principles of the Proverbs can help you avoid the snares of an evil world. However, if you have not yet believed on Christ Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, then these principles, if heeded, will only be of value to you in this life. To be made fit for heaven, you must first be born again—you must be saved. We read in John 3:5-6, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Thankfully, the Lord Jesus follows up with the way of salvation for you and for me in John 3:14-16:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  (425.2)  (SF)