Proverbs 16:6
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
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(6) Mercy and truth.—See above on Proverbs 3:3. Mercy and truth cannot, of course, in themselves “purge iniquity,” only so far as they are signs of the “faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6), which accepts the salvation offered by God (Romans 1:16-17). (Comp. the statement with regard to charity, 1Peter 4:8.)

By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.—Or, rather, escape misfortune. (Comp. Psalms 37 throughout.)

Proverbs 16:6. By mercy and truth iniquity is purged — By the covenant of grace, in which mercy and truth shine so bright, even the mercy and truth of God, which meet together, and kiss each other, in Jesus Christ the Mediator; by mercy in promising, and truth in performing, is the guilt of sin taken away from us, when we are truly penitent, and cast our sinful souls by faith on that mercy and truth. Hereby also a principle of mercy and truth is implanted in us, by which the power of sin is broken, and our corrupt inclinations are mortified and destroyed. In this way, and not by any legal sacrifices, or ceremonial observances, such as those on which the hypocritical Jews depended for the expiation of their sins, is iniquity purged, and the sinner both pardoned and renewed, Micah 6:7-8; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13. And by the fear of the Lord — By a filial reverence toward God, and by a holy fear of offending him; men depart from evil — They are kept from abusing pardoning mercy, and from returning to folly or wickedness. So he shows that forgiveness and holiness, or justification, and at least a measure of sanctification, are constant and inseparable companions.16:4. God makes use of the wicked to execute righteous vengeance on each other; and he will be glorified by their destruction at last. 5. Though sinners strengthen themselves and one another, they shall not escape God's judgments. 6. By the mercy and truth of God in Christ Jesus, the sins of believers are taken away, and the power of sin is broken. 7. He that has all hearts in his hand, can make a man's enemies to be at peace with him. 8. A small estate, honestly come by, will turn to better account than a great estate ill-gotten. 9. If men make God's glory their end, and his will their rule, he will direct their steps by his Spirit and grace. 10. Let kings and judges of the earth be just, and rule in the fear of God. 11. To observe justice in dealings between man and man is God's appointment.Compare Proverbs 15:8. "By mercy and truth," not by sacrifices and burnt-offerings, "iniquity is purged, atoned for, expiated." The teaching is the same as that of the prophets. 6. By mercy and truth—that is, God's (Ps 85:10); He effects the atonement, or covering of sin; and the principles of true piety incline men to depart from evil; or, "mercy" and "truth" may be man's, indicative of the gracious tempers which work instrumentally in procuring pardon.

purged—expiated (as in Le 16:33; Isa 27:9, Hebrew).

By mercy and truth; either,

1. By God’s mercy or grace, and by his truth in performing his promises made to sinners in Christ. Or,

2. By men’s mercy and truth, as those very words are jointly used, Proverbs 3:3 20:28, and elsewhere; and as, in the following clause, the fear of the Lord is a grace or disposition in men; by a merciful, and just, and faithful frame of heart and course of life; which are here opposed to sacrifices, as mercy is, Hosea 6:6, by which the hypocritical Jews expected to obtain the expiation of their sins.

Iniquity is purged, not meritoriously, but instrumentally, as they qualify a man to offer up acceptable prayers to God for the pardon of his sins, and to receive and apply to himself that pardon which Christ by his blood hath purchased for all sincere believers, who are filled with mercy, and truth, and other graces.

By the fear of the Lord; by a filial reverence or respect unto God, and by a holy fear of offending God, and by a dread of God’s judgments;

men depart from evil; they are kept from abusing pardoning mercy, and from returning to folly or wickedness. So he showeth that justification and sanctification are constant and inseparable companions. By mercy and truth iniquity is purged,.... Or "expiated" (d), and atoned for: not by the mercy and truth of men; not by alms deeds or showing mercy to the poor; nor by speaking truth and keeping promises, and doing justice between man and man; for, though these are duties to be performed, they will not atone for sin; and may be done by persons destitute of the grace of God, and whose iniquities are not purged or pardoned: but by the mercy and truth of God; through his "mercy", in sending Christ to be the propitiation for sin; and through his "truth", in fulfilling his promises concerning Christ; and particularly concerning pardon on the foot of his sacrifice and satisfaction, where mercy and truth have met together: or through the grace and truth come by Jesus Christ; or through his atoning sacrifice, by which he has finished transgression, made an end of sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity; in which there is a rich display of his own and of his father's grace and mercy, truth and faithfulness;

and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil; having that put into their hearts, and excited and influenced by the grace and goodness of God, men are engaged to abstain from evil, and the appearance of it; it teaches them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and godly in this world.

(d) "expiabitur", Montanus, Vatablus; "expiatur", Tigurine version, Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis, Schultens.

By {d} mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

(d) Their upright and repenting life will be a token that their sins are forgiven.

6. By mercy and truth iniquity is purged] This is not a statement of the method and ground of atonement, though the Heb. word here rendered purged is the usual word in the O.T. for covering, or atoning for, sin. That is taught elsewhere both in the Old (Psalm 51:7), and in the New Testament (Romans 3:20-26). But it is a lifting of man’s appropriation of atonement out of the ceremonial and ritual into the moral sphere of action. Not by sacrifices as its purchase-money, but by a new life as its seal, is the free gift of atonement realised and assured. Comp. Ezekiel 18:27-28; Micah 6:6-8; James 2:24.Verse 6. - By mercy and truth iniquity is purged; atoned for. The combination "mercy and truth" occurs in Proverbs 3:3 (where see note), and intimates love to God and man, and faithfulness in keeping promises and truth and justice in all dealings. It is by the exercise of those graces, not by mere external rites, that God is propitiated (see on Proverbs 10:2). A kind of expiatory value is assigned to these virtues, which, indeed, must not be pressed too closely, but should be examined by the light of such passages in the New Testament as Luke 11:41; Acts 10:4. Of course, such graces show themselves only in one who is really devout and God fearing; they are the fruits of a heart at peace with God and man, and react on the character and conduct. The LXX., which places this distich after ver. 27 of ch. 15, translates, "By alms and faithfulness (πίστεσιν) sins are cleansed," confining the term "mercy" to one special form, as in one reading of Matthew 6. l, "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness [al. alms] before men." By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. The practice of true religion, of course, involves abstinence from sin; and this seems so unnecessary a truth to be formally stated that some take the "evil" named to be physical, not moral evil; calamity, not transgression. But the two clauses are coordinate, and present two aspects of the same truth. The first intimates how sin is to be expiated, the second how it is to be avoided. The morally good man meets with pardon and acceptance, and he who fears God is delivered from evil. So we pray, in the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses, and deliver us from evil." Septuagint, "By the fear of the Lord every one declineth from evil" (comp. Proverbs 14:27). 33 The fear of Jahve is a discipline to wisdom,

     And before honour is humility.

We may regard 'יראת ה (the fear of Jahve) also as pred. here. The fear of Jahve is an educational maxim, and the end of education of the Chokma; but the phrase may also be the subject, and by such a rendering Luther's parallelism lies nearer: "The fear of the Lord is discipline to wisdom;" the fear of God, viz., continually exercised and tried, is the right school of wisdom, and humility is the right way to honour. Similar is the connection מוּסר השׂכּל, discipline binds understanding to itself as its consequence, Proverbs 1:3. Line second repeats itself, Proverbs 18:12, "Pride comes before the fall." Luther's "And ere one comes to honour, he must previously suffer," renders עני rather than ענוה. But the Syr. reverses the idea: the honour of the humble goeth before him, as also one of the anonymous Greek versions: προπορεύεται δὲ ταπεινοῖς δόξα. But the δόξα comes, as the above proverb expresses it, afterwards. The way to the height lies through the depth, the depth of humility under the hand of God, and, as ענוה expresses, of self-humiliation.

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