Proverbs 25:4

ESV Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel;
NIV Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
NASB Take away the impurities from the silver, And there comes out a vessel for the smith;
CSB Remove impurities from silver, and material will be produced for a silversmith.
NLT Remove the impurities from silver, and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith.
KJV Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.

What does Proverbs 25:4 mean?

A ruler should depend on upright, honest counselors to make wise decisions which benefit his subjects (Proverbs 11:14; 12:15; 20:18; 24:6; 29:14). This section of wise teachings (Proverbs 25:5) stresses the importance of a king carefully selecting his advisors.

"Dross" refers to impurities found in precious metals. Left alone, these compromise the strength and beauty of the material. Dross is removed by heating; whatever does not burn up separates from the melted silver and can be scooped away. Verse 4 presents one half of this lesson, in the form of an analogy. When the silversmith purges impurities, he can make fine and useful containers. The following verse applies this idea to a king purging his inner circle from those who are morally corrupt.

Other Scripture uses this same metaphor. Second Timothy 2:20–21 implies that vessels of honorable use require precious materials; these are refined to remove dross. First Peter 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 3:13–14 use similar analogies. Other verses specifically apply the idea of refining and dross to purging the influence of evil persons (Psalm 119:119; Jeremiah 6:29; Malachi 3:2–3).
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