He is intense in punishment toward the enemies and forgiving, ever-merciful toward the friends.
5:98 Know that God is intense in punishment and that God is forgiving, ever-merciful.
The intensity in punishment is severity and harshness toward the enemies. The forgiving, ever-merciful is caresses and generosity for the friends. He combined severity and gentleness in one verse so that the servant would live in fear and hope between severity and gentleness. When he looks at severity, he fears, and when he sees gentleness, he hopes. Fear is the fortress of faith, the antidote to caprice, and the weapon of the faithful. Hope is the steed of service, the supplies for striving, and the provision of worship.
It has also been said that the servant’s faith and certainty have two wings: fear and hope. How can a bird fly with one wing? In the same way, the faithful cannot travel the road of the religion in fear without hope or in hope without fear. True faith is like a balance: One-pan is fear, the other pan hope, and the beam is love. The pans are hung from knowledge. Just as a balance must have pans, so hope and fear must have the knowledge, which is why He put Know that at the beginning of the verse. Fear without knowledge is the fear of the Khawarij, hope without knowledge is the hope of the Murji’ah, and love without knowledge is the love of libertines.