“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” (NKJV)
“He Could Break Me”
When I was young I had a healthy fear of my father. Even when I was a teenager, he was half again my size and could break me in two. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for my dad to strike me in anger, or worse, as an enemy. Thankfully, he loved me, especially when he “spared not the rod.”
Yes, my dad knew how to discipline in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in “time outs.” Never once did he remind me to “make right choices.” If I made a wrong choice I found out about it real quick.
But the thing that I was most afraid of was not being punished by my dad for doing something stupid, it was breaking his heart. The worst punishment I could ever receive was to see a disappointed look in his eyes. I wanted him to be proud of me. I was more afraid of seeing a tear than getting whacked in the rear.
You see, my dad was a godly man…a simple man…a humble man…a very hard-working man. He worked multiple jobs, once even giving me his pay so that I could have work. He never raised his voice, but he could preach with authority. He was a true pastor, a faithful husband, and a friend to all. He did a lot for me that I will never know.
In today’s proverb Solomon speaks of mercy and forgiveness, but then he ends with “fear” being the motivation for correct behavior. What should be noted is that “fear” isn’t the kind of emotion that causes one to run and hide, but it is a profound sense of respect.
When we think of God, we should remember how merciful he has been to us. We should contemplate his goodness and grace. We should remember that He did not have to forgive us, but would have been completely justified to cast us into a burning hell forever, had it not been for Christ. When we remember these things we should fear and “depart from evil.”
But why should we depart from evil? Is it because of a fear that He will destroy us? No, for we are forgiven, if we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. We should have a profound respect for what God has done for us, not to us, and that fear should cause us to depart from evil.