“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14, NLT)
“Verse 13 makes the assumption that earthly fathers are compassionate (which they should be), and highlights that God as a heavenly father is just the same. However, fearing Him is important.
Father, teach me how to fear you to the best of my ability.”
A key thing to note is that His children fear Him. Although the concept of ‘fearing’ God can sometimes be misunderstood, it simply refers to reverence or respect. In a broad sense, everyone is a child of God. However, those that recognise Him to be their father (i.e. Christians) should willingly bestow reverence. Your reverence is subsequently met by tenderness and compassion, amongst other things. This does not mean that God’s love is conditional; He loves everyone irrespective of whether or not they fear Him (Matthew 5:45). For David to reiterate that He is tender and compassionate seems almost redundant; however, it’s interesting that those who do show some degree of reverence, His children, are often the ones most misguided about His character.
Despite the ugliness of your sin, you are still beautiful to God.
Have you ever felt like God was angry with you and wanted nothing more than to punish you? I’ve had people tell me that they’ve sinned ‘too much’ or gone ‘too far’ for God to take them back. That’s not the picture of God I see in this verse. Yes, God hates sin. Yes, He wishes you would let go of certain habits. But, the key thing is: His love for you will always be greater than the sin you commit. Rather than looking for an excuse to stop loving you, He’s hoping you’ll remember that He knows you’re weak. Although He is perfectly capable of keeping you from stumbling (Jude 1:24), it doesn’t come as a surprise to Him when you do. Yet sometimes, your first instinct is to ignore God as though He can’t bear to look at you. No! His tenderness and compassion are limitless – don’t delay repentance because you feel time will soften His wrath.
Whilst you should refrain from abusing His forgiveness, as His child, you should never doubt His readiness to be compassionate and tender.