Why a Covenant?
I have said before that for me Isaiah 55 is the most beautiful chapter in all of Scripture. In so many ways it captures the heart of God and His desire to give us goodness and life. "Come to the water … come, buy, and eat. Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost … listen carefully to me and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food!" How great is that! What an amazing, loving invitation to come to God so He can give to us more and more.
As much as I love this chapter, there was always this one spot that seemed out of place for me — like the author lost his train of thought and starting talking about something else entirely. Right in the middle of this wonderful language about a feast and water without limit, he says, "And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the faithful mercies shown to David." What is that about? To me it interrupts the flow of giving and eating and satisfying to talk about some covenant. It sounds like He wants something. A contract to be hammered out. Why here? Why in the middle of this holy invitation?
It finally dawned on me that this is actually an even deeper invitation from God, a longing on His part to be totally united with us in a sacred relationship.
When two people are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together, they enter into a covenant of love so they can bond even more deeply to one another. There are things they cannot know or discover until they have made that bond secure. And so when God is pouring out His goodness and love in these poetic verses, He offers us life and food for our soul, but then He wants to give even more. In so many words He is saying, "I have so much more to give you, much of which you will not be able to experience unless we are bonded together forever. I not only want to give you life and feed your soul, I want to bind you to myself so that my love and my life will become part of who you are."
This goes beyond receiving good gifts from God. We get God! I don't think we even have the vocabulary to say what that means! I am overwhelmed just trying to think about what that might mean. No wonder I could not understand why that phrase popped up in the middle of such wonderful words. I think for me the word covenant got in the way, because it is not a common word in everyday language. Perhaps if we paraphrase this verse we can express more of the flow and meaning embedded in those words.
"Listen that you may live. And I will bind myself in love to you forever — like in the best love bond you have ever heard of in my love for David."
Now I like Isaiah 55 even more!