|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1 These words recommend family love and peace, as needful for the comfort of human life. 2. The wise servant is more deserving, and more likely to appear one of the family, than a profligate son. 3. God tries the heart by affliction. He thus has often shown the sin remaining in the heart of the believer.
Verse 3. - The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold. The word matsreph, "fining pot," occurs also in Proverbs 27:21. It is not certain what is meant by it. There is no evidence that the Israelites were acquainted with the use of acids in the manipulation of impure or mixed metals; otherwise the "pot" and the "furnace" would represent the two usual modes of reduction; but it is most probable that both allude to the same method of smelting the ore in crucibles, for the purpose of separating the pure metal from the dross. That silver and gold were plentiful in Solomon's time is abundantly evident; indeed, the amount of the precious metals collected by David and his son is almost incredible (see 1 Chronicles 22:14; 1 Chronicles 29:2, etc., from which and similar passages it is inferred that the sums enumerated equalled more than nine hundred millions of pounds sterling). But the Lord trieth the hearts (Proverbs 15:11; Proverbs 24:12). That which fire does for the metals, the Lord does for men's hearts; he purifies them from dross, brings forth the good that is in them, purged from earthly infirmities. God's process is the application of sorrow, sickness, temptation, that, duly meeting these, the soul may emerge from the trial as pure gold, fit for the Master's use (comp. Jeremiah 12:3; Malachi 3:2; 1 Peter 1:7; Revelation 3:18).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold,.... Refiners of silver have their fining pots, in which they purify the silver from the dross; and goldsmiths have their crucibles to melt and purify their gold, by which assays of the worth and value of it may be made;
but the Lord trieth the hearts; there is no vessel, as Gersom observes, in which they can be put and tried by creatures; a man does not know, nor can he thoroughly search and try his own heart, and much less the hearts of others; God only knows and tries them, Jeremiah 17:9; The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, render it by way of similitude, "as the fining pot is for silver", &c. as silver is refined in the pot, and gold in the furnace, so are the hearts of God's people, and their graces tried and purified by him in the furnace of affliction; the variety of troubles they are exercised with are made useful for the purging away of the dross of sin and corruption, and for the brightening of their graces, 1 Peter 1:7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. God only knows, as He tries (Ps 12:6; 66:10) the heart.
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