The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)As silver.—This solemn promise of Jehovah may be relied on, for His words are not like those of deceitful men—alloyed with self and falsehood—but are pure as silver seven times smelted.
In a furnace.—Either a “workshop” or a “crucible,” according as derived.
Of earth.—These words are difficult; they must mean either in earth, referring to the ashes in which the smelted silver falls, or as to earth, i.e., as to the alloy, or as we say, purified of the alloy.
But erets is never else used for the material, earth, and Hitzig’s emendation, rats = bar, or piece (Psalm 68:30), “melted into a bar from the crucible,” is almost convincing in its simplicity and aptness.Psalm 12:6. The words of the Lord are pure — Without the least mixture of falsehood, and therefore shall be infallibly fulfilled. Men often speak rashly, and promise what they cannot perform, and deceitfully, what they never intend to perform. But God’s words are different; they are pure from all manner of dross; from all folly, or fraud, or uncertainty. “Often have they been put to the test, in the trials of the faithful, like silver committed to the furnace in an earthen crucible; but, like silver in its most refined and exalted purity, found to contain no dross. The words of Jehovah are holy in his precepts, just in his laws, gracious in his promises, significant in his institutions, true in his narrations, and infallible in his predictions. What are thousands of gold and silver, compared to the treasures of the sacred page?” — Horne.Psalm 12:2-4. Their words were vanity, flattery, and falsehood; and no reliance could be placed on them. In contrast with these words, the words of the Lord were pure. They were to be relied on. All his sayings were true and faithful. The design is to bring his words into contrast with the sayings of such men, and to show how much more safety there is in relying on his promises than on the promises made by such men. Man failed, but God would not. Reliance could not be placed on the words of even the professedly "godly" and "faithful" Psalm 12:1, but entire confidence might be placed in the words of Yahweh. All his words were true, pure, faithful, so that even when his own professed friends failed, and confidence could be placed in them, yet there was still reason for unwavering confidence in God himself.
Are pure words - That is, they are without any mixture of falsehood - for this idea is implied in the comparison which the psalmist makes when he says that they are like silver purified in the furnace, that is, from which all the dross has been removed.
As silver tried in a furnace of earth - The word here rendered "furnace" properly means a workshop. Perhaps it corresponds nearly with our word "laboratory," as the term is now used by chemists. It evidently refers to some place where the metal was tried and purified. The words rendered "of earth" literally mean "on the earth," or "in the earth?" The language does not mean that the "furnace" was "made" of earth, as would seem to be implied in our version, but that the "furnace" or laboratory was erected on the earth, or in the earth. It may refer to something like a crucible placed on the ground, around which a fire of intense heat could be made. It is probable that some such structure would be made near the mines where ore was obtained, and that the ore would be thus purified from dross before it was removed.
Purified seven times - By passing it seven times - that is, very often - through the fire. The word "seven" in the Scriptures denotes a complete or perfect number, and is often used to denote frequency. The idea here would seem to be that the process was repeated until the silver became entirely pure. The sense is, that the words of the Lord are "perfectly pure." There is no admixture of falsehood in his statements; there is no deception in his promises; there is no flattery in what he says. This was the ground of confidence on the part of the psalmist - that while men (even those who professed to be good men) so failed that no reliance could be placed on their statements, the most perfect trust could be reposed on all the statements of God.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
What a contrast between the vain words of man, and the pure words of Jehovah. Man's words are yea and nay, but the Lord's promises are yea and amen. For truth, certainty, holiness, faithfulness, the words of the Lord are pure as well-refined silver. In the original there is an allusion to the most severely-purifying process known to the ancients, through which silver was passed when the greatest possible purity was desired; the dross was all consumed, and only the bright and precious metal remained; so clear and free from all alloy of error or unfaithfulness is the book of the words of the Lord. The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable manner, but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive hear. What God's words are, the words of his children should be. If we would be Godlike in conversation, we must watch our language, and maintain the strictest purity of integrity and holiness in all our communications.
To fall into the hands of an evil generation, so as to be baited by their cruelty, or polluted by their influence, is an evil to be dreaded beyond measure; but it is an evil foreseen and provided for in the text. In life many a saint has lived a hundred years before his age, as though he had darted his soul into the brighter future, and escaped the mists of the beclouded present: he has gone to his grave unreverenced and misunderstood, and lo! as generations come and go, upon a sudden the hero is unearthed, and lives in the admiration and love of the excellent of the earth; preserved for ever from the generation which stigmatised him as a sower of sedition, or burned him as a heretic. It should be our daily prayer that we may rise above our age as the mountain-tops above the clouds, and may stand out as heaven-pointing pinnacle high above the mists of ignorance and sin which roll around us. O Eternal Spirit, fulfil in us the faithful saying of this verse! Our faith believes those two assuring words, and cries, "Thou shalt, thou shalt."Pure; or, sincere; without the least mixture of vanity or falsehood; and therefore shall infallibly be fulfilled. This he seems to add to answer an objection which might arise in some men’s minds concerning what was last said. You tell us, The, Lord saith, I will set him in safety, &c.; but saying and doing are two things. They are so indeed in men, who oft speak rashly what they cannot perform, and deceitfully what they never intend: but all God’s words are pure from all manner of dross; from all folly, or fraud, or uncertainty; he is holy and true in all his doctrines, threatenings, predictions, and promises.
Tried in a furnace of earth, i.e. made of such earth or clay as was proper for and then usual in that work. See 1 Kings 7:46. Psalm 12:5,, and in opposition to the words of wicked men in Psalm 12:2; which are deceitful, sinful, and impure. The Scriptures are the words of God; and they are pure and holy, free from all human mixtures, and from all fraud and deceit; they are the Scriptures of truth. The promises are the words of God, and they are firm and stable, and always to be depended on, and are ever fulfilled, being yea and amen in Christ Jesus. The Gospel, and the doctrines of it, are the words of God; that is the sincere milk of the word, pure and incorrupt; as it is in itself, and as it is dispensed by the faithful ministers of it; and they are all according to godliness, and tend to encourage and promote purity and holiness of heart and life; See Proverbs 30:5;
as silver tried in a furnace of earth; they are as "silver" for worth and value; yea, they are more valuable than silver or gold, Psalm 19:10. The Bible is a mine of rich treasure, and to be searched into as for it; the promises in it are exceeding precious; they are like apples of gold in pictures of silver, and yield more joy than the finding a great spoil. The doctrines of the Gospel are comparable to gold and silver and precious stones, and to be bought at any rate, but to be sold at none: and they are as silver "tried", which is pure, and free from dross. The words of men, of false teachers, are as dross and reprobate silver; but the words of the Lord are tried, and are pure, and free from all the dross of error and falsehood, Psalm 18:30. And they are as silver tried "in a furnace of earth", which some (o) render "by the Lord of the earth"; but the word rather signifies a furnace, or an refinery, in which metal is melted and purified; and may be applied to the Lord Jesus Christ in human nature, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and who came full fraught with the doctrines of the Gospel; and in whom they have been "tried", by his sufferings and death, and are found to be pure, solid, and substantial: or to the ministers of the Gospel, who have this treasure in earthen vessels, whose works and words and ministry are tried by many fiery trials, and abide: or to all the people of God in general, who dwelt in earthly tabernacles; and who, in the midst of various afflictions, have a comfortable and confirming evidence of the purity and truth of the words of God, of the promises of his covenant, and the doctrines of the Gospel;
purified seven times; that is, many times, Proverbs 24:16; and so completely and perfectly pure, and clear of all dross whatsoever, as silver so many times tried must needs be: and so the words of God are not only pure, but very pure, exceeding pure, Psalm 119:140.The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. A general truth with direct application to the promise of the preceding verse. In Jehovah’s words there is no dross of flattery or insincerity or falsehood. Unlike the words of men, they are wholly to be relied on.
as silver tried] Omit as. Silver is a natural emblem of purity and preciousness. The metaphor underlies the language of Psalm 18:30, Psalm 119:140, Proverbs 30:5.
in a furnace of earth] The precise meaning is doubtful. Either (1) in a furnace on the earth (R.V.), i.e. a furnace built on the ground, the point of which is not obvious: or (2) silver refined in a furnace (flowing down) to the earth may be meant to picture the bright stream of pure metal flowing from the furnace, shewing that the process of refining has done its work.
purified seven times] Again and again till no trace of dross is left. Seven is the number of completeness and perfection. Cp. Psalm 79:12; Proverbs 6:31; Isaiah 30:16.Verse 6. - The words of the Lord are pure words. There is no base alloy in them: therefore they may be trusted. What God promises, he will perform. As silver tried in a furnace of earth; rather, perhaps, silver assayed in a crucible on earth (Kay). Purified seven times (comp. Psalm 18:30; Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:140; Proverbs 30:5). Psalm 11:7, which assumes a declaration of something that is near at hand, is opposed to our rendering the voluntative form of the fut., ימטר, as expressive of a wish. The shorter form of the future is frequently indicative in the sense of the future, e.g., Psalm 72:13, or of the present, e.g., Psalm 58:5, or of the past, Psalm 18:12. Thus it here affirms a fact of the future which follows as a necessity from Psalm 11:4, Psalm 11:5. Assuming that פּהים might be equivalent to פּחמים, even then the Hebrew פּחם, according to the general usage of the language, in distinction from גּחלת, does not denote burning, but black coals. It ought therefore to have been אשׁ פּחמי. Hitzig reads פּהים from פּיח ashes; but a rain of ashes is no medium of punishment. Bצttcher translates it "lumps" according to Exodus 39:3; Numbers 17:3; but in these passages the word means thin plates. We adhere to the signification snares, Job 22:10, cf. Job 21:17, Proverbs 27:5; and following the accentuation, we understand it to be a means of punishment by itself. First of all descends a whole discharge of missiles which render all attempt at flight impossible, viz., lightnings; for the lightning striking out its course and travelling from one point in the distance, bending itself like a serpent, may really be compared to a snare, or noose, thrown down from above. In addition to fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24) we have also רוּח זלעפות. The lxx renders it πνεῦμα καταιγίδος, and the Targum זעפא עלעוּלא, procella turbinea. The root is not לעף, which cannot be sustained as a cognate form of להב, לאב to burn, but זעף, which (as 1 Samuel 5:10 shows) exactly corresponds to the Latin aestuare which combines in itself the characteristics of heat and violent motion, therefore perhaps: a wind of flames, i.e., the deadly simoom, which, according to the present division of the verse is represented in connection with אשׁ וגפרית, as the breath of the divine wrath pouring itself forth like a stream of brimstone, Isaiah 30:33. It thus also becomes clear how this can be called the portion of their cup, i.e., what is adjudged to them as the contents of their cup which they must drain off. מנת (only found in the Davidic Psalms, with the exception of 2 Chronicles 31:4) is both absolutivus and constructivus according to Olshausen (108, c, 165, i), and is derived from manajath, or manawath, which the original feminine termination ath, the final weak radical being blended with it. According to Hupfeld it is constr., springing from מנית, like קצת (in Dan. and Neh.) form קצות. But probably it is best to regard it as equals מנות or מנית, like גּלות equals גּלות.
Thus then Jahve is in covenant with David. Even though he cannot defend himself against his enemies, still, when Jahve gives free course to His hatred in judgment, they will then have to do with the powers of wrath and death, which they will not be able to escape. When the closing distich bases this different relation of God towards the righteous and the unrighteous and this judgment of the latter on the righteousness of God, we at once perceive what a totally different and blessed end awaits the righteous. As Jahve Himself is righteous, so also on His part (1 Samuel 12:7; Micah 6:5, and frequently) and on the part of man (Isaiah 33:15) He loves צדקות, the works of righteousness. The object of אהב ( equals אהב) stands at the head of the sentence, as in Psalm 99:4, cf. Psalm 10:14. In Psalm 11:7 ישׂר designates the upright as a class, hence it is the more natural for the predicate to follow in the plur. (cf. Psalm 9:7; Job 8:19) than to precede as elsewhere (Proverbs 28:1; Isaiah 16:4). The rendering: "His countenance looks upon the upright man" (Hengst. and others) is not a probable one, just because one expects to find something respecting the end of the upright in contrast to that of the ungodly. This rendering is also contrary to the general usage of the language, according to which פנים is always used only as that which is to be seen, not as that which itself sees. It ought to have been עינימו, Psalm 33:18; Psalm 34:16; Job 36:7. It must therefore be translated according to Psalm 17:15; Psalm 140:13 : the upright (quisquis probus est) shall behold His countenance. The pathetic form פנימו instead of פּניו was specially admissible here, where God is spoken of (as in Deuteronomy 33:2, cf. Isaiah 44:15). It ought not to be denied any longer that mo is sometimes (e.g., Job 20:23, cf. Job 22:2; Job 27:23) a dignified singular suffix. To behold the face of God is in itself impossible to mortals without dying. But when God reveals Himself in love, then He makes His countenance bearable to the creature. And to enjoy this vision of God softened by love is the highest honour God in His mercy can confer on a man; it is the blessedness itself that is reserved for the upright, 140:14. It is not possible to say that what is intended is a future vision of God; but it is just as little possible to say that it is exclusively a vision in this world. To the Old Testament conception the future עולם is certainly lost in the night of Shel. But faith broke through this night, and consoled itself with a future beholding of God, Job 19:26. The redemption of the New Testament has realised this aspiration of faith, since the Redeemer has broken through the night of the realm of the dead, has borne on high with Him the Old Testament saints, and translated them into the sphere of the divine love revealed in heaven.
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