Atonement and Fear (Proverbs 16:6)

By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.

Proverbs 16:6

There are two thoughts in this morning’s proverb.

First, atonement. I have heard atonement defined as at-one-ment, meaning that atoning for some wrong that is between myself and another results is our relationship being restored to its prior state. Solomon writes that it is by lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for. Lovingkindness is often translated as mercy, but the term unpacks into something richer than just that. Yes, mercy is part of the concept, but the definitions of the word include kindness and goodness and faithfulness. Jesus’ death on the cross is what makes atonement for our wrongdoing and that death and the life that preceded it circumscribe the term lovingkindness. LAst thought on this before continuing: Jesus said that He is the Truth in John 14:6.

Second, the fear of the LORD and evil. Once my wrongs have been atoned for, there should be (and is) a desire not to do those things again. Solomon advises that fearing the LORD will steer me away from evil. And he is correct. If I understand; really just get Who and What God is, then I will have a healthy fear of Him. Elsewhere, it is written that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Couple that with this and it becomes a comment on the beginning of wisdom being to stay away from evil. Lot of truth there.

How does this apply? Atonement is available to address my wrongdoing. God forgives. From there; starting at that place of being cleansed, I should fear the LORD with an appropriate fear and that fear should steer me away from further wrongdoing. If I am not being steered away from wrongdoing, then I may not fear the LORD the way I should.

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