Proverbs 30: 2020 Bible Challenge

Devotional Text and Meditation for the Day

Walt Townshend

Proverbs 30:5-6

5Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

 The great Henry Allen “Harry” Ironside, who was a Canadian-American Bible teacher, preacher, theologian and author who pastored Moody Church in Chicago from 1929 to 1948, said this about these two verses: “There are two great facts enunciated in these verses. The first is the perfection of the Word of God and the second, the all-sufficiency of that Word.[1]

The word “flawless” or “pure” (tsaraph[2]) is the word for what a refiner does with precious metals—heats them to high temperatures in a crucible and removes the dross or impurities. God’s Word is pure and thus speaks to the quality of the revelation He has provided us in Scripture.  I think this story, written by an unknown person, provides a dramatic lesson about God’s Word.  It goes like this:

In ancient times a man was visiting a goldsmith to collect some gold. He asked the silversmith about the refining process. “Can you set the fire in the crucible and walk away until it is completed?”[3] “No,” he replied, “I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the gold will be lost.” Amazed he asked, “But when do you know it is fully refined?” The silversmith replied, “When I can see my own image reflected in the gold.” 

Consider the exchange Jesus has with Pilate in John 5:28: “Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

God’s Word is pure and reflects who He is; He is Truth.  Psalm 18:30 puts it like this: “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”

Which takes us to the safety we have in His Word.  He is a shield (mâgên[4]) which is figuratively a protector, providing a refuge (châçâh[5]) in which we can place our hope and trust. I love the image declared by the Psalmist in Psalm 36:7: “How precious is thy lovingkindness (cheçed[6]), O God! And thechildren of men take refuge under the shadow of thy wings.” How comforting to be in this position!

So, with God’s pure Word in which we can take refuge, why would we want to add to it or take away from it?  God plainly told the Israelites in Deut. 4:2, “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.”

And in the closing verses of the Book of Revelation, John writes: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

One can think of many cults that have altered, added to, or deleted from the Word of God. Even more recently, a pastor wrote a book[7] with a major premise being that we need to be “unhinged” from the Old Testament.[8]

God provides His pure Word, our shield and refuge.  Let’s be certain we don’t add to or take away from it. We must also avoid “virtual deletion” when we fail to read ALL of Scripture, including the parts of the Old (and New) Testament we may not like.

Read Proverbs 30: |

[1] Ironside, Henry A., Ironside’s Notes on Selected Books, Proverbs 30[2][3] Think also of the fact that when we are refined, God does not walk away, but is always with us, an intimate part of the refining process.[4][5][6][7] Stanley, Andy, Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World, Zondervan (2018). 336 pp.[8] Michael Kruger provides this overview: Stanley “…offers a clear call to church leaders: ‘Would you consider unhitching your teaching of what it means to follow Jesus from all things old covenant? (p. 315). This is necessary because ‘when it comes to stumbling blocks to faith, the Old Testament is right up there at the top of the list’ (p. 280). Put simply, when people struggle to believe, ‘the Old Testament is usually the culprit’” (p. 278). Kruger is president of Reformed Theological Seminary’s Charlotte, North Carolina, campus, where he also serves as professor of New Testament. He is currently president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and is the author of Christianity at the Crossroads: How the Second Century Shaped the Future of the Church (IVP Academic, 2018) and Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway, 2012). He blogs regularly at Canon Fodder.


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