“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)
Sadly, some of us can’t relate to this verse. Our fathers weren’t compassionate, and we certainly didn’t associate the fear our fathers produced leading to him being gentle, kind, and loving toward us.
Verses six through twelve give us insight into what this creature called a compassionate father is supposed to be like, however. Elsewhere we learn God’s people are also the bride of his son, and the son does what he sees his father doing, hence all of this applies to husband-wife relationship, too.
- The Compassionate Father does what is right himself and does not use his power to crush or heavily burden his wife and children. Rather he seeks to brings justice to all persons who are being treated unfairly, including all the members of his own family as well as any others within his reach.
- He is clear to his wife and children about how he will behave and, by implication, what he expects of them. We also know from the scriptures that God is consistent and does what he says he will do.
- He shows mercy and forgiveness, is patient, does not easily anger, but has plenty of love and expresses it freely and consistently.
- He is not constantly scolding and yelling at his wife and children, nor is he always angry at them.
- Once a child has been restored from a wrong, he no longer holds the past failing against his child. Likewise, he does not factor his wife’s previous errors into his future decisions, it is never mentioned again, full trust is restored. He loves his wife and children just as much when they have failed and done wrong as he did when they had not and hence does not withhold his love as a punishment.
Our verse today then also tells us a healthy father sees when his children are sorry for their misdoings or otherwise in distress and feels their pain and hurt in himself and is moved to reach out and comfort and restore the child. For those of you who can consider this a “duh” rather than an amazing revelation of scripture, god bless you, and pray for us whose fathers were not consistent, compassionate, or forgiving in their responses to us, that the truth of God’s word would become real in our wounded hearts.
Most all of us can gulp and tremble at this standard. Father God’s example is also a good model for mothers, wives, and leaders in general, and we all fall short of God’s glory and perfection. Let us accept his offer of a clean slate and a fresh start ourselves and seek power from above to be more like him in our dealings with our neighbors and all those who might be in our care or charge.