Proverbs 27:21

As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
– Proverbs 27:21

The fining pot and furnace are not analytical tools for testing metal, but rather instruments of refining and preparing metal. Metal is tested in the crucible, and that is a common enough image of men being tested by trials, but it doesn’t end there. Metal is purified in the crucible and made ready for use. Likewise, praise tests and purifies a man, or else it tests and discards him. Wisdom warns against self-praise (Proverbs 17:3; 25:27; 27:2).




Proverbs 25:4

Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
– Proverbs 25:4

Continuing the theme of kings and counselors, verse 4 provides a metaphor for the point of verse 5. Removing dross from silver is a reference to refining or purifying the metal (Proverbs 17:3). The Hebrew wording has some difficulties, as noted by various commentators, but the point is clear. The presence of dross in the silver ruins the vessel, or makes it worthless.

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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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