Proverbs 17:3

The Crucible Test

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3

Most of us don’t like to take tests. We’re afraid we’ll do badly, maybe even fail. Tests reveal how much we know or need to learn. If we fail a test, but learn a valuable lesson, we haven’t failed.

God tests our hearts with the goal of removing the impurities, of refining us. The word test used in Proverbs 17:3 is the Hebrew bachan “to examine, try, prove, scrutinize, to test (of gold, persons, the heart, man of God).”[1]

The writer of this verse compares this time of trying and proving what’s in our hearts to being placed in a crucible: “a pot in which metals or other substances are heated to a very high temperature or melted; a difficult test or challenge; a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions.”[2]

David once prayed, “Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked” (Psalm 26:1-5 ESV).

David did not live a sinless life, but he walked in integrity. In fact, God called David “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Many years later, when God showed David his sin through the words of the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12, David immediately repented (v. 13). Afterward he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

Have difficult circumstances challenged your faith? The crucible is God’s way of showing you what’s in your heart. The extreme heat is uncomfortable, even painful, but it removes impurities and transforms you into the likeness of Christ.

DIG DEEPER:

Compare Peter’s response to Jesus in Matthew 16:21-24 and what he later wrote in 1 Peter 1:6-9, 4:12-13. What does Peter say about a fiery ordeal and test? How has his attitude changed since that night in the upper room?

In Romans 12:1-2, what instructions did Paul give for presenting to God your body—which would include your heart and mind?

Read Isaiah 48:10-11. God sent Israel into the crucible of the Babylonian captivity. Why did He do it according to verse 11? Does that change the way you think about your “crucible”?

Related devotions include Pure in Heart in The Beatitudes Series and Job in Dig into People of the Bible.

 Nancy J. Baker

[1] Hebrew Lexicon :: H974 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 29 Sep, 2014. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H974&t=KJV

[2] “Crucible” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web 29 Sep 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crucible.>

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