Proverbs 17 … Consider Him Who Tests Our Hearts

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the Lord tests hearts,
(17:3).

That word, “test.” It conjures up all sorts of feelings of anticipation, worry and stress. As a former educator, I typically knew which students would fare well on a test before the test was graded. A demeanor of confidence entered the classroom as opposed to the hunched shoulders often accompanied by nail biting and sighs.

But a test is never simply for the teacher. And certainly, as our Perfect Teacher, He already knows the results and His Tests would never be for His benefit. So then, does He Test Our Hearts as a tool to gage our progress? Is this what this verse is proclaiming? Does the Lord Test Our Hearts so we will have a handle on the headway we are making in our Christian walk?

Actually, that does not line up with the context. “But the Lord tests hearts” immediately follows the mention of the refining pot (or crucible) and furnace (or smelter) that tests precious metals.

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
refining pot/crucible: “4715. מַצְרֵף maṣrēp̱: A masculine noun defining a crucible, a refining pot. It indicates a metal pot in which the impurities of precious metals were separated out.”
furnace/smelter: 3564. כּוּר ḵûr: I. A masculine noun meaning a furnace, a forge, a smelting pot. It refers to a furnace or smelting pot literally but is also used in figurative language to depict human suffering in judgment or discipline…”

It is plain, that within the context of the passage, this is not referring to a “pass or fail test,” or an assessment to determine what we know or don’t know. The Lord Tests Our Hearts to remove impurities that would impede His conforming work in our lives. And it is most often in the crucible of affliction that this smelting work occurs.

So, I’m just going to get this out there. I would rather be able to do this walk without the afflictions. Wouldn’t we all. But His design is always for our good. Today, let us ask Him to enlighten our understanding of His Heart as we consider Him Who Tests Our Hearts.

Consider Him Who Tests Our Hearts

This image of the refining fire is used in both the Old and New Testament. It is not confined merely to the Law or to Grace. Really, it encompasses His love, His purpose and His plans for His people.

  • He Tests Our Hearts that He might bring us out into a place of abundance.
    • For You have tried us, O God;
      You have refined us as silver is refined.
      11 You brought us into the net;
      You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins.
      12 You made men ride over our heads;
      We went through fire and through water,
      Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance,
      (Psalm 66:10-12).
  • He Tests Our Hearts that we might become a vessel fit for His use.
    • Take away the dross from the silver,
      And there comes out a vessel for the smith;
      (Proverbs 25:4).
  • He Tests Our Hearts that He might delay His wrath.
    • “For the sake of My name I delay My wrath,
      And for My praise I restrain it for you,
      In order not to cut you off.
      10 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
      I have tested you in the furnace of affliction,”
      (Isaiah 48:9-10).
  • He Tests Our Hearts that He would get our attention.
    • Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, I will refine them and assay them;
      For what else can I do, because of the daughter of My people?”
      (Jeremiah 9:7).
  • He Tests Our Hearts that we would call on the Name of the LORD, our God.
    • “And I will bring the third part through the fire,
      Refine them as silver is refined,
      And test them as gold is tested.
      They will call on My name,
      And I will answer them;
      I will say, ‘They are My people,’
      And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God,’”
      (Zechariah 13:9).
  • He Tests Our Hearts that our lives and service would be pleasing to Him.
    • “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years,” (Malachi 3:2-4).
  • He Tests Our Hearts that He might perfectly accomplish His will for us.
    • Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, (James 1:2-4).
  • He Tests Our Hearts that we would bring Him praise and glory and honor.
    • In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:6-7).
  • He Tests Our Hearts that He would perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us in His grace.
    • After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you, (1 Peter 5:10).

How do we respond to Him Who Tests Our Hearts?

As we grow in our understanding of His Heart in Testing Our Hearts, let us ask Him to strengthen our resolve that we would even come to embrace the fire in faith, as we trust in His love, His purpose and His plans for us.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

Let us ask Him to grow us to exult in His Tests as we grow in the knowledge of His love.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us, (Romans 5:3-4).

Oh, that we would desire to so live and look like Jesus, that we would trust Him Who Tests Our Hearts to accomplish His purpose.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Romans 8:28-29).

Let us ask Him to grow our faith and love that we would persevere as we wait for what He Who Tests Our Hearts has promised.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him, (James 1:12).

And may we always be mindful of all that Christ suffered for us, that we would find joy, even in our trials, as we wait for the glorious day that we will see Him Who Tests Our Hearts.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation, (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Let’s Grow Together!

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