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Just Testing

Proverbs 17:3 reads, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” Solomon is saying in this proverb that everything of value must be tested to uphold that value.  In the case of precious metals, the testing is heat, fire.  But because man often doesn’t even know his own heart, only his Creator is qualified to do the testing.  Interestingly, the Lord also uses fire – it’s just a different kind.

It is somewhat ironic that Solomon penned this Proverb, underwent testing himself, yet failed with all his wisdom to recognize it.  The first 20 years of his 40-year reign, Solomon focused on building a glorious temple for the Name of the Lord, followed by his palace and a palace for his wife, the daughter of Pharoah.  Taking a foreign wife was likely Solomon’s first test. It passed human rationale for it established peaceful relations between Israel and Egypt.  But it ignored God’s Law not to intermarry with other nations, “because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” (1 Kings 11:2)

During that same timeframe, Hiram, King of Tyre, was supplying Solomon with various types of wood, gold, and other construction supplies.  Upon completion of the temple and Solomon’s palace, God came to him in a dream, blessing him with the promise of perpetuating his family dynasty forever while also giving him these requirements: “to walk before Me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe My decrees and laws.” (I Kings 9:4)  It appears that shortly after this, Solomon gave Hiram 20 towns in Galilee as part of his compensation for all Hiram had supplied Solomon.  But Hiram was not pleased and called the towns the Land of Cabul, translated “good-for-nothing”.  This action highlighted two wrongs: 1) Solomon gave a substandard gift, and 2) he gave a gift he did not own. The land belonged to God.  Solomon’s integrity was immediately called into question.

In this same 20 years, Solomon had become so comfortable in his wealth, wisdom, and position that he did not recognize the test.  God did not overtly call him to account; therefore, Solomon grew in his self-permissiveness, taking 700 wives, many who were foreigners that worshipped their own gods. They succeeded in leading Solomon astray from the One true God, as Solomon “held fast to them in love.” (1 Kings 11:2) This sin resulted in splitting Israel into two kingdoms.

There are vital lessons for us in Solomon’s example.  If we are in relationship with Jesus, we will be tested.  It is possible we will not recognize the initial test if we are not being intentional about studying God’s Word as our source of truth and aligning with it.  Like a plane only one degree off vector in the beginning, 200 miles later we could find ourselves flying over enemy territory, surprised by taking ground-fire.  Hopefully, something that significant would get our immediate attention to do a course correction.  Yet there are times when the demands of job, family, and life itself would push us to increase speed in an effort to outfly the incoming, only to find ourselves deeper into enemy territory.  Unfortunately, the more past successes we’ve had and the more naturally capable we are, the more we will tend to keep going.  So, the battle becomes intense.  Do we have to be shot down before we get it??

If our lives are not going well, it may be because we are in the Refiner’s fire of testing.  The sooner we drop everything to seek God, the sooner the heat can do its work to burn off impurities.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)