Over 45 year ago, Miriam and I stood before each other, our friends, family and God and made a promise, sometimes called a marriage vow or a covenant. It was as follows:
“I, Rod/Miriam, take you, Miriam/Rod, to be my wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God I make this vow.”
That was in August 1975 and, like all marriages, there have been times that challenged our commitment to each other, but God has blessed us and helped us to work through these times and remain faithful to our promises. Now we appreciate each other in new ways in this latter season of our lives. What a privilege to grow older together!
One can’t read too far into the Bible without realizing that God is also into covenants. They include God’s covenant with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses, with David and then there is the New Covenant (or New Testament).
In Psalm 89 the covenant that is the topic of the psalmist’s prayer is the Davidic covenant/promise as found in 2 Samuel 7 and as outlined here in this psalm as follows:
19 Once you spoke in a vision,
to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
I have raised up a young man from among the people.
20 I have found David my servant;
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21 My hand will sustain him;
surely my arm will strengthen him.
22 The enemy will not get the better of him;
the wicked will not oppress him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down his adversaries.
24 My faithful love will be with him,
and through my name his hornwill be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea,
his right hand over the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.’
27 And I will appoint him to be my firstborn,
the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
28 I will maintain my love to him forever,
and my covenant with him will never fail.
29 I will establish his line forever,
his throne as long as the heavens endure.
This promise by God was delivered directly to King David by the prophet Nathan to whom God had revealed it (2 Samuel 7:4). The psalmist summarizes it as:
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’”
Why David? For the answer to this we turn to 1 Samuel 16 when God sends Samuel, the priest, to anoint David as king in Israel. When he visited David’s family on this occasion, he met all David’s brothers before David and, as impressive as they all were, the Lord said to him, “Do not consider his appearance or his height … the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Earlier God had said concerning David, that he was “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). In Acts 13:22 we read that God testified concerning David, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”
But there were some conditions attached to God’s promise (verse 30-37) which we will consider next time.
Today, of course, we have the New Testament (or covenant) which Jesus spoke about at his last supper with his disciples just before his death on the cross. They were sharing the Passover meal together and Jesus, speaking of his imminent death, “took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” (Luke 22:20)
This new covenant was mentioned in the Old Testament (see for example, Jeremiah 31:31,33) which Jesus fulfilled and established between God and his people. For you and me, entering into this new covenant is made possible by faith in Jesus, who shed his blood to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29) so that we might be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
Thank you, Father, that you are a promise making and promise keeping God. We often make promises which we find difficult to keep but with you it is very different. Thank you for sending Jesus to establish an eternal covenant that we might be forever with you. Amen.