Proverbs 20:12

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
– Proverbs 20:12

The hearing ear and seeing eye are expressions of understanding and obedience (Isaiah 6:9-10; Mark 4:9-12). The second phrase shows these faculties to be gifts of God’s grace and therefore accountable to him. So not only does wisdom come from God, but the understanding of wisdom as well. This proverb also reveals the sovereign attribute of omniscience, since the hearing ear and seeing eye come from God, he possesses these in greater degree (Psalm 94:9).

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Proverbs 17:3

The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
– Proverbs 17:3

On the face, this proverb is obscure, but the wisdom revealed is not too advanced for the Proverbs. The parallelism gives us what we need to discern the meaning. The fining pot and furnace refer to the crucible used for testing and purifying precious metals such as silver and gold. These images were used to speak of testing by trials God designs for the purifying of His own (Job 23:10; Psalm 66:10; Isaiah 48:10; 1 Peter 1:6-7). The second line goes deeper. It is the hearts, or the inner man, his thoughts, feelings, and motives, which are tried (Proverbs 15:11). God’s testing is not of outward appearance but of internal thoughts and motives (Proverbs 24:12). So God tests with full knowledge and purpose to draw out the impurities of the heart as the refiner separates the dross from the metal.

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Proverbs 16:2

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
– Proverbs 16:2

The word for clean means pure and could be used to refer to something undiluted or without admixture. The first phrase means that a man’s motives and objectives for his ways are reasonable and justifiable to him (Proverbs 21:2). This statement is a wisdom observation and general truth. It doesn’t have the negative tinge as in the similar, Proverbs 30:12. The contrast in the second is Yahweh weigheth, evaluates as in a balance, the spirits. This phrase refers to the sovereignty and omniscience of God to see and judge truly the hearts, or minds, of men (Proverbs 5:21; 24:12). He is a righteous and objective judge of motives, as is meant by spirits as a figure, because they are unseen and intangible. God sees and judges what man cannot.

The point of this proverb is to give us wisdom to know our self-knowledge and self-evaluation are both incompetent. A man is not capable of properly evaluating his own heart (1 John 3:20; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5). For this reason, we trust God’s judgments (Psalm 19:9) and seek wise counselors among men, because only fools follow their own hearts (Proverbs 12:15).

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Proverbs 15:11

Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
– Proverbs 15:11

The word for hell is sheol and means the unseen place of the dead. It is like the Greek hades. The word for destruction is abaddon and means a place of destruction. It emphasizes the state of suffering or punishment more than the location. It is also a name given to Satan as the king of the bottomless pit, or the abyssos (Revelation 9:10). The first phrase refers to the underworld, a place unseen to men, but not to God (Psalm 139:8). The point is that such a place we have so little conception of is entirely open before God. It follows then that human flesh is no covering to hide the hearts of men from God (Hebrews 4:12-13). The force of the proverb is to teach wisdom and the fear of the Lord.

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Proverbs 15:3

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
– Proverbs 15:3

This proverb expresses the omniscience of God. His knowledge is full and complete. It’s not that he can know, but that he does know. Wisdom knows this and that knowledge provokes wise speech and actions (Proverbs 5:21). This is a comfort to the righteous (2 Chronicles 16:9; Job 23:10) and a terror to the wicked (Psalm 1:6; Proverbs 15:8-9, 11).

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