Purpose of testing/trials

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christiana

Puritan Board Senior
I have been of the opinion that God allows trials and testing to show US what is in our heart as He is omniscient and already knows what will come to pass.

Sooo, when I read 2 Chronicles 32:31 in the last of the verse referring to testing the 'He' is capitalized when it states the testing is so He can know what is in his heart. Well, in pondering I'm wondering if that is correct as when capitalized it would mean he is tested so that God can know what is in his heart.
My two questions are as to the purpose of testing and was my opinion correct?
Then, is it just slightly possible that the 'He' was capitalized in error?

So much to learn, so little time!! Thanks!!

2 Chronicles 32:31 (New King James Version)

31 However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.
 

Theogenes

Puritan Board Junior
Nancy,
I want to share a quote my pastor used recently when talking about trials in our lives, and I can't rmember who said it. Here's the quote: "Affliction introduces a man to himself". I heartily believe that is a true statement. So, in response to your questions, I say YES to your first question and maybe to the second. The verse may be simply an "anthropomorphism" .
Jim
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
(frustrating computer problems here)
Thanks I so agree with you and with your pastor's quote! That leaves the question of how and why the 'he' was capitalized when that leads to an erroneous meaning of the whole verse, does it not?

Thanks again for your response!

---------- Post added at 10:07 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:56 AM ----------

For what it's worth, I sent an email inquiry to Grace to You and hope they will respond and explain.

Blessings,

---------- Post added at 10:11 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:07 AM ----------

I love this word from Matthew Henry on this verse and passage showing us that we who exalt ourself must expect to be abased!

The divine displeasure he was under for this sin; though it was but a heart-sin, and the overt-act seemed not only innocent but civil (the showing of his treasures to a friend), yet wrath came upon him and his kingdom for it, v. 25. Note, Pride is a sin that God hates as much as any, and particularly in his own people. Those that exalt themselves must expect to be abased, and put under humbling providences. Wrath came on David for his pride in numbering the people. 6. His repentance for this sin: He humbled himself for the pride of his heart. Note, (1.) Though God may, for wise and holy ends, suffer his people to fall into sin, yet he will not suffer them to lie still in it; they shall not be utterly cast down. (2.) Heart-sins are to be repented of, though they go no further. (3.) Self-humiliation is a necessary branch of repentance. (4.) Pride of heart, by which we have lifted up ourselves, is a sin for which we ought in a special manner to humble ourselves. (5.) People ought to mourn for the sins of their rulers. The inhabitants of Jerusalem humbled themselves with Hezekiah, because they either knew that they also had been guilty of the same sin, or at least feared that they might share in the punishment. When David, in his pride, numbered the people, they all smarted for his sin. 7. The reprieve granted thereupon. The wrath came not in his days. While he lived the country had peace and truth prevailed; so much does repentance avail to put by, or at least to put off, the tokens of God’s anger.III. Here is the honour done to Hezekiah, 1. By the providence of God while he lived. He had exceeding much riches and honour (v. 27), replenished his stores, victualled his campus, fortified his city, and did all he wished to do; for God had given him very much substance, v. 29. Among his great performances, his turning the water-course of Gihon is mentioned (v. 30), which was done upon occasion of Sennacherib’s invasion, v. 3, 4. The water had come into that which is called the old pool (Isa. 22:11) and the upper pool (Isa. 7:3); but he gathered the waters into a new place, for the greater convenience of the city, called the lower pool, Isa. 22:9. And, in general, he prospered in all his works, for they were good works. 2. By the respect paid to his memory when he was dead. (1.) The prophet Isaiah wrote his life and reign (v. 32), his acts and his goodness or piety, or which it is part of the honour to be recorded and remembered, for examples to others. (2.) The people did him honour at his death (v. 33), buried him in the chief of the sepulchres, made as great a burning for him as for Asa, or, which is a much greater honour, made great lamentation for him, as for Josiah. See how the honour of serious godliness is manifested in the consciences of men. Though it is to be feared that the generality of the people did not heartily comply with the reforming kings, yet they could not but praise their endeavours for reformation, and the memory of those kings was blessed among them. It is a debt we owe to those who have been eminently useful in their day to do them honour at their death, when they are out of the reach of flattery and we have seen the end of their conversation. The due payment of this debt will be an encouragement to others to do likewise.
 

Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
First, the adversity that God brings into our lives is for our own good.

For which see,

Isa. 38:17 (NIV) Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.

James 1:2 Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials...

John 15:2 Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it that it might bear more fruit. (Sometimes adversity is God’s pruning shears)

Heb. 12:10 He disciplines us (through adversity) for our good that we may share His holiness.

2 Cor. 4:17 momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

Specifically,

In Deut. 8:2-3, the Israelites were told that God tested them and humbled them that He might make them understand that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God . . . Isn’t that something we can often see as a result of our adversity?

I also find it interesting that Martin Luther once said - “Were it not for tribulation, I would not understand the Scriptures.”

I would venture to say (though I haven’t really worked this out yet) that most godly character traits can only be developed through adversity (e.g. the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians).

Secondly, God gives adversity so that we can better ministry to others: 2 Cor. 1:3ff “Blessed be the God and father of our lord Jesus Christ . . . who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (read on through v. 9 if needed)

:2cents:
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
I had no problem in understanding the testing. The problem was in an apparent 'error' in my bible translation. As it is written, testing would be done for God to determine how we would deal with it. We agree that testing is done for God to show US our sinful heart and the how and where we need to stop sinning. We know all dross is burned off in the fire of affliction.
The point is that God knows all things. Hence, the transcription 'error'.
Thanks for your response about testing! I agree both with what you've said and Martin Luther as well!
 

Porter

Puritan Board Freshman
The context demands an understanding that Hezekiah was being tested (not God):

In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill; and he prayed to the LORD, and the LORD spoke to him and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah gave no return for the benefit he received, because his heart was proud; therefore wrath came on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. 26 However, Hezekiah humbled the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come on them in the days of Hezekiah. 27 Now Hezekiah had immense riches and honor; and he made for himself treasuries for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuable articles, 28 storehouses also for the produce of grain, wine and oil, pens for all kinds of cattle and sheepfolds for the flocks. 29 He made cities for himself and acquired flocks and herds in abundance, for God had given him very great wealth. 30 It was Hezekiah who stopped the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all that he did. (2 Chron. 32:24-30)

Similar to God's Daniel 4 dealing with Nebuchadnezzar, Hezekiah "had his understanding returned to him" after being tested due to his pride.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
I apparently have been unable to state what the problem in clearly enough and for that I do apologize.
I do understand what is going on in the verse. In the phrase that He might know all that was in his heart.
the 'He' should not be capitalized. That is my problem with this phrase as in capitalizing it the meaning then is that God is testing Hezekiah in order to find out what is in his heart. This cannot be correct in my view as God is omniscient and knows all things. The testing is to show Hezekiah his pride!

Please forgive me for giving such a foggy problem and thanks for your efforts to help clarify this. I still hope to hear from GTY on this.
Blessings

---------- Post added at 01:16 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:48 PM ----------

Just talked with a very nice lady at GTY and she immediately looked up the verse and said, 'Oh absolutely, that 'he' should not be a capital and I will pass this one to be corrected in the next edition!

There now, I feel ever so much better! LOL Thanks everyone who posted here! Blessings!
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
I apparently have been unable to state what the problem in clearly enough and for that I do apologize.
I do understand what is going on in the verse. In the phrase that He might know all that was in his heart.
the 'He' should not be capitalized. That is my problem with this phrase as in capitalizing it the meaning then is that God is testing Hezekiah in order to find out what is in his heart. This cannot be correct in my view as God is omniscient and knows all things. The testing is to show Hezekiah his pride!

Please forgive me for giving such a foggy problem and thanks for your efforts to help clarify this. I still hope to hear from GTY on this.
Blessings

Christiana,

I understand what you are getting at... Matthew Henry ignores it altogether, John Gill says Hezekiah is the subject, and a page over at CARM says that it's God's use of human language, but it doesn't explain it any further.

So...is there anyone who knows Hebrew that can shed light on this? Right now, I think it may be what David asks God to do in Psalm 139:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

And yet, David says at the beginning of this very Psalm:

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

I think it has to do with the Bible term "know" being much more than intellectual knowledge. The Psalmist didn't just want God to know him but to be intimately acquainted with him, not just as his Creator but as his Lord and Master.

After all, Jesus, who knows the hearts of all (Matt. 8:4; Acts 1:24), said, "And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matt. 7:23)
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
The difference between the capitalized and uncapitalized "he" would be that if it's capitalized, the reference is to God, and if it isn't, the reference is to Hezekiah.

Of course God is omniscient; but that didn't stop Him from saying this:
“Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22:12)

Now God didn't need to test Abraham to acquire information; but the fact that He can speak that way in Genesis means that we can't rule out a similar form of speech in 2 Chronicles 32:31 - unless there is something in the Hebrew grammar of the passage that eliminates the possibility that "he" there refers to God. Perhaps someone with a solid grasp on Hebrew grammar could say if there's any indicators in the original to take it one way or the other, or if it's best left ambiguous.
 

MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
Just talked with a very nice lady at GTY and she immediately looked up the verse and said, 'Oh absolutely, that 'he' should not be a capital and I will pass this one to be corrected in the next edition!

Is she sure about that? The NKJV and NASB capitalizes He. So it's not just a matter of her changing it.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
Hmmm, very interesting but you can see that it should not be a capital and be referring to God as that negates His omniscience!

Maybe they're all drinking from the same pond! LOL

Oh Ruben I couldnt agree more and rue the day we got so many 'new and improved' versions! I love KJV or NKJV!
In the passage about Abraham I still think it was truly for Abraham's learning that the testing was done. Great passage of comparason though! Thanks!
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Yes, apart from raving critics and open theists, I don't think anyone's ever thought that God really learned something new from testing Abraham. But since He speaks that way in Genesis 22, I don't think we can say that translating 2 Chronicles 32:31 with reference to God's knowledge denies His omniscience - because whatever explanation is adopted for Genesis 22 (where the reference has to be to God) would also work for 2 Chronicles 32 (where the reference might be to God).
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
Abraham gave up his son, his only son! God showed Abraham that he could do that as it was proof positive to provide the substitute at the last moment! In his mind Abraham had already dealt with it and given him up! Its so humbling to consider when our sacrifices are so tiny and the demands on our life pale in comparison. I love reading over that passage and pondering my own thoughts if ever I should be in such a place! We know God has nothing to learn and that we are taught by His Holy Spirit in ways that show us our weaknesses and sin in order to be more molded into His image! Heavy thinking, brings brain pain!
 

moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
This text is an illustration that Scripture is not often trying to prove or support the higher doctrines that are often hidden from man's sight. It's written for the general, common understanding that most have, and often from that perspective. In general, it makes sense to us that God is trying to find out what sort of people we are by allow us to go through trials. We relate well to that as his creation. Now, does the omniscient God really need to test us in order to figure this out? Absolutely not. Scripture deals with that when it says that God knows the heart, and that all things are laid open and bare with whom we have to do. So, not every scripture is a proof text for or against the higher doctrines. The question to ask is: "Is this particular passage meant to be a teaching passage about doctrine, or is this merely a descriptive, narrative passage or something else?" That's my take on the topic.

Blessings!
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
As to the question in the OP, I don't know whether this is a misprint or not, but only God Himself can search out our hearts so that we know what is really there.

As to trials and tribulations, they do bring about godly character and cause us to know our sin. While this is true, it is easy to end our thoughts on trials and tribulations at the "this is good for you" stage and forget that the ultimate reason for our sanctification is a deeper relationship with God. I love Job's response to God at the end of the book of Job. He says, in Job 42:5 "I had heard you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you." While Jobs trials sanctified, he repented in dust and ashes, he also saw God in a deeper way.

Even Jesus Himself said about His trials that is was "for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross". I think we tend to miss this sometimes.

Job 42:2-6
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
 

coramdeo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Nancy,
I want to share a quote my pastor used recently when talking about trials in our lives, and I can't rmember who said it. Here's the quote: "Affliction introduces a man to himself". I heartily believe that is a true statement. So, in response to your questions, I say YES to your first question and maybe to the second. The verse may be simply an "anthropomorphism" .
Jim

Nancy, I think that Jim is quite correct that this use is an "anthropomorphism" We see this quite often in other verses. The meaning is still clear.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
In general, it makes sense to us that God is trying to find out what sort of people we are by allow us to go through trial
s. Quoted from Charles post above.

You see, I dont think God does anything to 'find out' something as He is omniscient and has no such need. I think does these things as testing, trials, afflictions to show US and to grow US and to burn the dross off US, that we progress toward more likeness of His image. God has nothing lacking, nothing to find out. His goal is that we would glorify Him and He brings us to an awareness of what is lacking that prevents us from doing so. If we are slow learners then He provides what is needed to bring us to increased knowledge. So, my question is not about trials per se but about the questionable capital He. I must admit I find it interesting if the He is capitalized in other versions as well as Marie stated. Thanks for all the thought provoking posts!
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Our actions take place in the sight of God. He judges us for them. So although we realize that in his omniscience he doesn't actually learn anything new about us from our actions, God can and does still speak as if our actions reveal our true selves before him.

So it's possible for the "He" in this verse to be a reference to God without in the least denying his omniscience.
 
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