Proverbs 25:4

Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.


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Silver is mined from the earth with other metals and isolated by refining processes. Silver must be refined numerous times to remove all the dross – the scum or foreign matter that corrupts the purity of the metal (Pr 17:3; Ps 12:6). After all the dross has been removed, the pure silver can be formed into a beautiful vessel with the excellent traits of silver.

Here is a wonderful proverb – an obscure and pithy saying carrying a valuable lesson of human experience or wisdom. The proverb does not intend to teach or warn metallurgists or refiners, but it instead borrows a lesson from their work to apply to civil government in particular, and all units of society in general. The immediate context is helpful (Pr 25:5).

What is the lesson? As refining scum and foreign metals corrupt silver and make it unfit for forming a beautiful vessel, so the scum and foreign matter of wicked persons corrupt a government. For a king to have a glorious and prosperous reign for the benefit of his people, he must purge away all the dross of ambitious, evil, and foolish men (Pr 25:5).

A king or other civil ruler must choose noble and wise counselors for his cabinet. Once a covetous, dishonest, or wicked person is detected, at any level of government, he must be quickly put out. By this holy example to the nation, which preserves the government’s maximum integrity, the nation can be a beautiful and righteous thing (Pr 14:34).

The power and riches of civil government attract sycophants, covetous men, lazy fools, seditious men, traitors, and unprincipled tyrants. If they are allowed to remain in office, the trustworthiness of the ruler and his delegated authority is compromised. What God intended for the safety and prosperity of men becomes their enemy and destroyer.

The rule applies to all parts of society. For a marriage to have love and peace, odious women must be rejected (Pr 27:15-16; 30:21-23). For a family to have unity, the scorner should be cast out (Pr 22:10; Deut 21:18-21). For a church to please God and benefit its members, hypocrites must be identified and excluded (Ps 144:11-15; I Cor 5:1-13). If this refining process is neglected, the resulting entity will never amount to its potential.

Jethro gave Moses excellent qualifications for rulers under him (Ex 18:21). And King Jehoshaphat strictly charged the judges in his day (II Chron 19:5-11). Both administrations were beautiful things, and the nation prospered in both cases. It is the duty of every leader, from a husband/father to a president, to maintain the peace and righteousness of both family and nation by eliminating scornful or seditious elements.

Ahasuerus saved the integrity of marriage throughout the Persian Empire by divorcing Queen Vashti, lest the women of the kingdom turn against their husbands (Esth 1:10-22). David sacrificed the integrity of his reign by retaining his nephew Joab as captain of the army, which cost him and the nation several seditions (II Sam 3:28-39). And he did this, in spite of strongly committing to follow the wisdom of the proverb (Ps 101:1-8). He saved Solomon from the same mistake by instructing him to kill Joab (I Kgs 2:5-6).

The Lord Jesus Christ is a perfect King and Refiner! He loves righteousness and hates iniquity (Ps 45:6-7; Heb 1:8-9). He will not allow the foolish in His sight (Ps 5:5; Matt 7:21-23). He has purified all the elect by His blood to be kings and priests unto God and offer perfect sacrifices (Mal 3:1-5; Rev 1:5-6). The day is coming in which He will purge the universe of all offending persons (Matt 13:37-52; 25:31-46). Reader, repent today!