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The crucible[a] is for refining[b] silver and the furnace[c] is for gold,
likewise[d] the Lord tests[e] hearts.

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  1. Proverbs 17:3 sn The noun מַצְרֵף (matsref) means “a place or instrument for refining” (cf. ASV, NASB “the refining pot”). The related verb, which means “to melt, refine, smelt,” is used in scripture literally for refining and figuratively for the Lord’s purifying and cleansing and testing people.
  2. Proverbs 17:3 tn The term “refining” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the parallelism; it is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.
  3. Proverbs 17:3 sn The term כּוּר (kur) describes a “furnace” or “smelting pot.” It can be used figuratively for the beneficial side of affliction (Isa 48:10).
  4. Proverbs 17:3 tn Heb “and.” Most English versions treat this as an adversative (“but”).
  5. Proverbs 17:3 sn The participle בֹּחֵן (bokhen, “tests”) in this emblematic parallelism takes on the connotations of the crucible and the furnace. When the Lord “tests” human hearts, the test, whatever form it takes, is designed to improve the value of the one being tested. Evil and folly will be removed when such testing takes place.