By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
– Proverbs 16:6
The word for purged means covered, i.e., atonement. It is the word often used in the law for expiation of sin. At first blush, the first statement could seem to speak of a justification by works, but that would contradict other Scripture and miss the point of the proverb badly. The phrase mercy and truth is paralleled with the fear of the Lord. The first phrase is most often used of God and expresses his covenant faithfulness (Psalm 85:10). The second indicates the beginning of wisdom and so refers to the way of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Both result in iniquity is purged and depart from evil. The point of the proverb is not the outward rites or works, but rather the inward truth and genuineness, as in Proverbs 15:8. The thought is similar with other proverbs (Proverbs 14:16, 27; 15:27).