The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times. (Psalm 12:6)
How is God able to give to humanity His flawless words?
The Astounding Fact
We are first amazed at the mere thought of such a thing occurring as creatures receiving the thoughts of the Creator. God reveals to His prophets what He will do (Amos 3:7). Paul wrote of in 1 Corinthians 13:12 of the future fullness of knowledge about ourselves – “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” And Christ told of the conviction that the Spirit gives even to the most sinful and worldly of hearts: “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
In heaven we shall have full knowledge of ourselves. Here on earth our own hearts are a mystery to us, and our actions as well. We read, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15). But in heaven we are promised the completion of the new life begun in our hearts here on earth through the gospel:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)
In heaven, in the fullness of that future revelation, we shall “see his face” and his name will be on our “foreheads” (Rev. 22:4) – an expression in Revelation for the knowledge of God. Will there be retained by God some knowledge of Himself that we are not privy to, in heaven? I cannot personally imagine it otherwise, but however we understand this future revelation there is no motive, factor, or truth that is meaningful to our hearts and minds that will not be revealed.
But even here on earth, as we walk with Him, it is amazing to consider that God reveals Himself to us – “such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6). God reveals his heart, His ways, and Himself to simple Christians who walk with Him in daily communion.
The Treasure of Knowledge
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). Time does not permit me to write much on this fact today, but it is a subject worthy of consideration. The treasure of the knowledge of God, which we gain through the knowledge of Christ, is precious beyond words to our hearts. The Word itself expounds on who He is, His holiness, His love, His purpose. This is the satisfying revelation of hope and peace to our hearts. In the midst of the “hub-bub” and worries of today’s world, to stop and consider the peaceful and exuberant praise of God in heaven is a treasure to our souls.
God’s Means of Revelation
I believe the psalmist gave us an image of the means by which God purifies our hearts – like the purification of silver or any precious metal. It is heated until the dross and the true silver separate from one another, and then the dross is poured off, and the metal is allowed to cool. Then it is subjected another six times to the same treatment, until the silversmith can find no more dross at all.
Is there any doubt as to what is pictured here? Heat and purification have the image of the combined challenges of life – the combination of sorrow, troubles, convictions, and sins and confessions. However often we have failed, when we return to God in confession we have placed our hearts into the hands of the Divine Silversmith, who pours off the dross of our minds and lives. I have never known any person to mature very much in the faith without this process of purification.
Christ said to His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). And He prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). So there are cleansings and purifications we experience through personal and corporate devotions and the study of God’s Word. But even then, His Word must seek out the deep thoughts of our hearts, which the Word of God is designed to do:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Christ prayed and taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). This is a purifying prayer, and whenever we see some wreck made by the sin and wrongness of our hearts we need to go through the purifying process of confession, cleansing, and the pouring off of the dross of our souls.
There is the process of divine illumination that God has used where He overcame the weakness of earthly thought – such as Balaam’s ass (Num. 22:21 cf) or even King Saul’s prophesying (1 Sam. 19:24). But God’s modus operandi is that the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets (1 Cor. 14:32), and the revelation came through hearts that had been purified as silver, seven times over.
So our response is to lay our hearts bare before Him daily, to confess our failures and to see how we may grow more and more godly through His Word and His Spirit. No matter how often we have been purified on this earth, there will be more purification needed. The number “seven” is symbolic of completeness – meaning not merely seven times only, but as long as it takes.