A Covenant of Salt

A relationship of love and loyalty.

The sayings of our mouth and the meditation of our heart.

Ps 19:14 – Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer! (YLT)

What do the sayings of your mouth and the meditation of your heart reveal about who you think you are? Are they in agreement with the words of the Lord God and the meditation of his heart?

Meditating and resting.

Do you have a regular practice of meditating on God’s Word and resting in his promises? This is a vital part of the sanctification process, a separation and surrendering to the will of God for you.

Sanctification.

Sanctification is not an attainment, it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful people, and in which they begin their course as Christians, followers of Christ. It is a separation to God; it is the relationship with God to which their sole title is the death of Christ. Sanctification is God’s will, his purpose in calling sinful people by the gospel, and must be learned from God as he teaches it by his Word. It must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, for the holy character is built up little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and following the example of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification. The sanctification of the Spirit is associated with the choice of God; it is a Divine act preceding the acceptance of the Gospel by the individual.1

Lectio Divina.

I encourage you to practice Lectio Divina if you are not familiar with it – taking in just a small bite of Scripture each day, and chewing on it all day, all week, all month, all year, all life long, giving Holy Spirit time and access to the deep recesses of your heart to cleanse and nourish your soul as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Pet 3:18).

“Lectio Divina”, a Latin term, means “divine reading” and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. …the stages…

lectio (reading)… meditatio (reflection)… oratio (response)… contemplatio (rest), where we… simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within… The movement of the prayer is towards silence… The practice of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the Scriptures has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and in our own day is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups. The Word of God is alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.2

Lectio.

Reading. Read the Word of God slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into you.

2 Chron 13:5 – Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? (ESV)

Meditatio.

Reflection. Think about the text and ruminate upon it so that you take from it what God wants to give you.

2 Chron 13:5 – Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? (ESV)

What word or phrase stirs you? Take some time to murmur and mumble the word/s, taking a kind of pleasure in making the sounds and getting the feel of the meaning. Take in what God wants to give you that will make you more yourself, created in his image and likeness.3

By a covenant of salt.

2 Chron 13:5 – Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? (ESV)

By a covenant: in the sense of cutting; to create, select, feed as formative processes: choose (in the sense of winnowing), create, cut down, dispatch, do, make fat. A compact because made by passing between pieces of flesh.4

By passing between pieces of flesh.

Gen 15:17- – When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. (ESV)

Salvation as a burning torch.

Isa 62:1 – For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. (ESV)

A relationship of love and loyalty.

…”Covenant” is parallel or equivalent to the Hebrew words dabar (“word”), hoq (“statute”), piqqud (“precepts”), edah (“testimony”) torah (“law”), and checed (“lovingkindness”). These words emphasize the authority and grace of God in making and keeping the “covenant,” and the specific responsibility of man under the covenant…

Men “enter into” or “join” God’s “covenant.” They are to obey and “observe carefully” all the commandments of the “covenant”. But above all, the “covenant” calls Israel to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”. God’s “covenant” is a relationship of love and loyalty between the Lord and His chosen people.

… The Bible relates God’s “covenant” purpose, that man be joined to Him in loving service and know eternal fellowship with Him through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.5

God’s covenant purpose.

Heb 12:8, 11 – If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (ESV)

Like the calf that they cut in two.

Jer 34:18-22 – And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts—the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. And Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon which has withdrawn from you. Behold, I will command, declares the Lord, and will bring them back to this city. And they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.” (ESV)

I am the LORD.

Isa 45:7 – I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. (ESV)

There is no god beside me.

Deut 32:39 – “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. (ESV)

Job 5:18 – For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal. (ESV)

He has torn us, that he may heal us.

Hos 5:15-6:1 – I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me. “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. (ESV)

My people, the work of My hands, My inheritance.

Isa 19:19-25 – In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. And the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the LORD and perform them. And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” (ESV)

It is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Prov 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. (ESV)

He cannot deny himself.

2 Tim 2:13 – if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. (ESV)

2 Chron 13:5 – Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? (ESV)

Oratio.

Response. Leave your thinking aside and simply let your heart speak to God. This response is inspired by your reflection on the Word of God.

Prayer means yearning for the simple presence of God, for a personal understanding of his word, for knowledge of his will and for capacity to hear and obey him. It is thus something much more than uttering petitions for good things external to our own deepest concerns…

We wish to gain a true evaluation of ourselves and of the world so as to understand the meaning of our life as children of God redeemed from sin and death. We wish to gain a true loving knowledge of God, our Father and Redeemer. We wish to lose ourselves in his love and rest in him. We wish to hear his word and respond to it with our whole being. We wish to know his merciful will and submit to it in its totality. These are the aims and goals of meditation and oratio.6

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. (Job 32:8 ESV)

Contemplatio.

Rest. Let go of your own ideas, plans and meditations, your holy words and thoughts. Simply rest in the Word of God. Listen at the deepest level of your being to God who speaks within you with a still small voice. As you listen, you are gradually transformed from within. Take what you read in the Word of God into your daily life. The way you live is the test of the authenticity of your prayer.

Christ’s rest is not a rest from work, but in work, “not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections—of will, heart, imagination, conscience—because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development.7

*****

Resources/For deeper study:

1Sanctification: A. Noun. hagiasmos (<START GREEK>a)giasmo/$ <END GREEK>, NT:38), “sanctification,” is used of (a) separation to God, 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; (b) the course of life befitting those so separated, 1 Thess 4:3,4,7; Rom 6:19,22; 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14. “Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ, Acts 26:18; 1 Cor 6:11, and to which their sole title is the death of Christ, Eph 5:25,26; Col 1:22; Heb 10:10,29; 13:12.

“Sanctification is also used in NT of the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer, 1 Thess 4:3, and His purpose in calling him by the gospel, v. 7; it must be learned from God, v. 4, as He teaches it by His Word, John 17:17,19, cf. Ps 17:4; 119:9, and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14. For the holy character, hagiosune, 1 Thess 3:13, is not vicarious, i. e., it cannot be transferred or imputed, it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ, Matt 11:29; John 13:15; Eph 4:20; Phil 2:5, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Rom 8:13; Eph 3:16.

“The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification, Rom 15:16; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; cf. 1 Cor 6:11…. The sanctification of the Spirit is associated with the choice, or election, of God; it is a Divine act preceding the acceptance of the Gospel by the individual.”

From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 115, 271.

For synonymous words see HOLINESS.

  1. Verb. hagiazo (<START GREEK>a(gia/zw <END GREEK>, NT:37), “to sanctify,” “is used of (a) the gold adorning the Temple and of the gift laid on the altar, Matt 23:17,19; (b) food, 1 Tim 4:5; (c) the unbelieving spouse of a believer, 1 Cor 7:14; (d) the ceremonial cleansing of the Israelites, Heb 9:13; (e) the Father’s Name, Luke 11:2; (f) the consecration of the Son by the Father, John 10:36; (g) the Lord Jesus devoting Himself to the redemption of His people, John 17:19; (h) the setting apart of the believer for God, Acts 20:32; cf. Rom 15:16; (i) the effect on the believer of the Death of Christ, Heb 10:10, said of God, and 2:11; 13:12, said of the Lord Jesus; (j) the separation of the believer from the world in his behavior — by the Father through the Word, John 17:17,19; (k) the believer who turns away from such things as dishonor God and His gospel, 2 Tim 2:21; (l) the acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ, 1 Peter 3:15.

“Since every believer is sanctified in Christ Jesus, 1 Cor 1:2, cf. Heb 10:10, a common NT designation of all believers is ‘saints,’ hagioi, i. e., ‘sanctified’ or ‘holy ones.’ Thus sainthood, or sanctification, is not an attainment, it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful men, and in which they begin their course as Christians, Col 3:12; Heb 3:1.”

From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 113, 114.

(from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

2https://www.ocarm.org/en/carmelites/what-lectio-divina

3“Meditate (hagah) is a bodily action; it involves murmuring and mumbling words, taking a kind of physical pleasure in making the sounds of the words, getting the feel of the meaning as the syllables are shaped by larynx and tongue and lips. Isaiah used this word “meditate” for the sounds that a lion makes over its prey (Isa 31:4). They purr and growl in pleasurable anticipation of taking in what will make them more themselves, strong, lithe, swift.” From: Peterson, Eugene H. (1991). Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer (pg 26). New York, NY: HarperCollins.

4By a covenant: OT:1285 <START HEBREW>tyr!B= <END HEBREW> beriyth (ber-eeth’); from OT:1262 (in the sense of cutting [like OT:1254]); a compact (because made by passing between pieces of flesh): -confederacy, [con-] feder [-ate], covenant, league.

OT:1262 <START HEBREW>hr*B* <END HEBREW> barah (baw-raw’); a primitive root; to select; also (as denominative from OT:1250) to feed; also (as equivalent to OT:1305) to render clear (Eccl 3:18): KJV – choose, (cause to) eat, manifest, (give) meat.

OT:1250 <START HEBREW>rB* <END HEBREW> bar (bawr); or bar (bar); from OT:1305 (in the sense of winnowing); grain of any kind (even while standing in the field); by extens. the open country: KJV – corn, wheat.

OT:1254 <START HEBREW>ar*B*<END HEBREW> bara’ (baw-raw’); a primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes): -choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat). (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

5COVENANT: berit OT:1285, “covenant; league; confederacy.” This word is most probably derived from an Akkadian root meaning “to fetter”; it has parallels in Hittite, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Aramaic. Berit is used over 280 times and in all parts of the Old Testament. The first occurrence of the word is in Gen 6:18: “But with thee [Noah] will I establish my covenant.”

The KJV translates berit fifteen times as “league”: “…now therefore make ye a league with us” Josh 9:6. These are all cases of political agreement within Israel 2 Sam 3:12-13,21; 5:3 or between nations 1 Kings 15:19. Later versions may use “covenant,” “treaty,” or “compact,” but not consistently. In Judg 2:2, the KJV has: “And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land….” The command had been also given in Ex 23:32; 34:12-16; and Deut 7:2-6, where the KJV has “covenant.”

The KJV translates berit as “covenant” 260 times. The word is used of “agreements between men,” as Abraham and Abimelech Gen 21:32: “Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba….” David and Jonathan made a “covenant” of mutual protection that would be binding on David’s descendants forever 1 Sam 18:3; 20:8,16-18,42. In these cases, there was “mutual agreement confirmed by oath in the name of the Lord.” Sometimes there were also material pledges Gen 21:28-31.

Ahab defeated the Syrians: “So he made a covenant with [Ben-hadad], and sent him away” 1 Kings 20:34. The king of Babylon “took of the king’s seed [Zedekiah], and made a covenant with him, and hath taken an oath of him…” Ezek 17:13, NIV, “treaty”. In such “covenants,” the terms were imposed by the superior military power; they were not mutual agreements.

In Israel, the kingship was based on “covenant”: “…David made a covenant [KJV, “league”] with them [the elders of Israel] in Hebron before the Lord…” 2 Sam 5:3. The “covenant” was based on their knowledge that God had appointed him 2 Sam 5:2; thus they became David’s subjects (cf. 2 Kings 11:4,17).

The great majority of occurrences of berit are of God’s “covenants” with men, as in Gen 6:18 above. The verbs used are important: “I will establish my covenant” Gen 6:18 — literally, “cause to stand” or “confirm.” “I will make my covenant” Gen 17:2, RSV. “He declared to you his covenant” Deut 4:13. “My covenant which I commanded them…” Josh 7:11. “I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore… I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” Ex 6:5-6. God will not reject Israel for their disobedience so as “to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them…” Lev 26:44. “He will not… forget the covenant… which he sware unto them” Deut 4:31. The most common verb is “to cut [karat] a covenant,” which is always translated as in Gen 15:18: “The Lord made a covenant with Abram.” This use apparently comes from the ceremony described in Gen 15:9-17 (cf. Jer 34:18), in which God appeared as “a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp [flaming torch] that passed between those pieces” Gen 15:17. These verbs make it plain that God takes the sole initiative in covenant making and fulfillment.

“Covenant” is parallel or equivalent to the Hebrew words dabar (“word”), hoq (“statute”), piqqud (“precepts” — Ps. 103:18>, NASB), ±edah (“testimony” — Ps. 25:10>), torah (“law” — Ps. 78:10>), and checed (“lovingkindness” — Deut. 7:9>, NASB). These words emphasize the authority and grace of God in making and keeping the “covenant,” and the specific responsibility of man under the covenant. The words of the “covenant” were written in a book Ex 24:4,7; Deut 31:24-26 and on stone tablets Ex 34:28.

Men “enter into” Deut 29:12 or “join” Jer 50:5 God’s “covenant.” They are to obey Gen 12:4 and “observe carefully” all the commandments of the “covenant” Deut 4:6. But above all, the “covenant” calls Israel to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” Deut 6:5. God’s “covenant” is a relationship of love and loyalty between the Lord and His chosen people.

“…If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people… and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” Ex 19:5-6. “All the commandments… shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers” Deut 8:1. In the “covenant,” man’s response contributes to covenant fulfillment; yet man’s action is not causative. God’s grace always goes before and produces man’s response.

Occasionally, Israel “made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments…, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book” 2 Kings 23:3. This is like their original promise: “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” Ex 19:8; 24:7. Israel did not propose terms or a basis of union with God. They responded to God’s “covenant.”

The wholly gracious and effective character of God’s “covenant” is confirmed in the Septuagint by the choice of diatheke to translate berit. A diatheke is a will that distributes one’s property after death according to the owner’s wishes. It is completely unilateral. In the New Testament, diatheke occurs 33 times and is translated in the KJV 20 times as “covenant” and 13 times as “testament.” In the RSV and the NASB, only “covenant” is used.

The use of “Old Testament” and “New Testament” as the names for the two sections of the Bible indicates that God’s “covenant” is central to the entire book. The Bible relates God’s “covenant” purpose, that man be joined to Him in loving service and know eternal fellowship with Him through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.

(from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

6Thomas Merton (2014). Contemplative Prayer (pg 45-46). New York, NY: Image Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

7Rest: anapausis (<START GREEK>a)na/pausi$<END GREEK>, NT:372), “cessation, refreshment, rest” (ana, “up,” pauo, “to make to cease”), the constant word in the Sept. for the Sabbath “rest,” is used in Matt 11:29; here the contrast seems to be to the burdens imposed by the Pharisees. Christ’s “rest” is not a “rest” from work, but in work, “not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections — of will, heart, imagination, conscience — because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development” (J. Patrick, in Hastings’ Bib. Dic.); it occurs also in Matt 12:43; Luke 11:24; Rev 4:8, RV, “(they have no) rest” [KJV, “(they) rest (not)”], where the noun is the object of the verb echo, “to have”; so in 14:11… (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

 

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