21 ¶ As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
A previous Proverb mentioned the process of fining or refining silver and heating up gold to purify it. A fine state is a pure state. A fining pot is a pot in which you melt silver to rid it of impurities.
Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
Matthew Henry points out that as a fining pot removes the impurities from silver and as the furnace does the same for gold so does praise test whether or not a man is conceited or if he gives God the praise and glory offered to him. He might be like Herod, full of self praise and self worship, deserving of the same fate.
Acts 12:21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. 23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
Earlier in this chapter we read;
Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
Offering praise to a person is a sure way to tell what he or she is about. If they, in turn, give the glory to God that is one thing but if they become puffed up with their own glory it is another. The athlete who glories in his efforts with screaming, dancing, and prancing in the end zone or jumping up on the boxing ring ropes with hands outstretched in self praise encouraging the adulation of the crowd is a stone, cold fool, as are the fans who adore him. The type of glory that men enjoy is merely a poor counterfeit of the glory of heaven where those who belong to Christ will praise Him for eternity in what will make any Super Bowl event look like a pale joke.
I am not very impressed either with the athlete who drops to his knees and supposedly offers a prayer to God as that is simply a way of drawing attention, again, to yourself. Paul tells us with the wisdom given to Him by the Holy Spirit with regard to our personal convictions;
Romans 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
Jesus warned about the false piety of many public prayers;
Matthew 6:5 ¶ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
We’ve had so many presidential candidates supposedly told by God to run for office that I can’t help but wonder who He told first and if their god, little “g”, perhaps, can’t make up his mind. We’ve also had a president speak publicly about how God told Him to invade a country, which is patently absurd in the light of doctrine given to Christians in the letters written by Paul.
So, if you want to find out what a man or woman is made of, the Proverb tells us, see how they handle praise, and who they give the glory to for their successes. Beware yourself of how much self glory you heap on your own successes. Remember;
Psalm 108:1 «A Song or Psalm of David.» O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.