The Proverbs are simple and short. But, they require us to think about the Bible’s themes in order to get their meaning right. You have to have those themes firmly in your mind or you’ll miss the point of the proverb–and therefore, apply it wrongly to your life.
“By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.” Proverbs 16:6
The LORD referred to here is the God of all Creation who keeps his promises, and is in personal relationship with individuals He has known intimately and loved from eternity past. You must get this biblical theme right or you will misunderstand this proverb. It is all over the Bible–from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Moses to David to Isaiah to Jeremiah to Peter to Paul to you and I. Ephesians 1 sums it up. Romans 1-8 explains it in detail.
Since salvation is never about our doing or being good enough to qualify for God’s love, the steadfast love and faithfulness is that of Jesus Christ. He fulfilled His promise to die for those whom His father had given Him. So our sins were paid for, blotted out, made irrelevant. They no longer block our relating to God! John 3:16 says it all. Someone might even die for a good man, but Christ Jesus died for us who are always missing the mark and going astray. That is why its all about grace–favor we have not merited or earned in any way.
But, the other side of the coin–man’s responsibility–is here contrasted with God’s choice and rule. “…by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.”
Who wants to ruin a great relationship? Fear of offending this ONE who has sought us out, set His love upon us, died for us causes us to clean up our act. To repent, to turn aside from doing or saying or being something that would cause Him shame or that He would disapprove.
Read the rest of chapter 16 and pick out what most applies to you right now. Turn aside from it, practice what is good. For me, it is:
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb…”
Which verses most hit you today? Your responsibility is to turn aside from evil because of how faithful and loving God is to you.
See how you think and chew something over? You must keep coming back to biblical themes.
You and your children and your grandchildren need to be taught how to do this for their good and for God’s glory. How would you teach this to a six year old? More about that later.