The power of a covenant
By Allen Mandishona
The word covenant originates from the latin words ‘con venire’ which means a coming together. It involves two or more parties coming together making a binding agreement. There are quite a number of covenants in the bible, like the Adamic covenant, the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant and many others. For now, we need to look at the covenant between David and Jonathan and get to appreciate its meaning in light of the new Testament.
Reading from 1Sam18:3 and 4, it says, “ Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
Verse 4. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”
There are two things that Jonathan did in verse 4 that are symbolic of what Christ did to us, as a way of sealing or confirming the covenant. He gave David his robe and his sword. His robe speaks of Christ giving us His righteousness while the sword speaks of the word of God. The power of the David and Jonathan covenant is fully appreciated and understood if we then go to 2 Sam9 verses 1 through to 9. We will do an exegesis of verses 1, 3,4,5 and 7.
Verse 1 says ,”And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?.
From this verse, we see that what ignited that desire in king David to extend his kindness to the house of Saul, is the covenant that he had with Jonathan. Even though Jonathan was dead by then, David still honored that covenant. This means it went beyond the grave. That is just how powerful a covenant can be. When we came to Christ, we discovered that the Son is said to be the lamb slain before the foundation, meaning the new testament plan was actually established before the foundation of the world. Let us look at verse3
2Sa 9:3 And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.
When I look at that verse, there are certain issues that are so touching to me. When the king asked, he got his response from Ziba, who was a servant of Saul. The first thing that Ziba mentions about the remnant of the house of Saul is that although there is a remnant, that man is lame in his feet! Two things come to mind regarding the lame Mephibosheth. Firstly what happened for him to be lame and secondly, why would Ziba mention the issue of lameness?
On the first part, we learn from 2Sam4verse4, that the lameness happened when Mephibosheth was still young. His nurse fell down while fleeing during a battle and when she fell down, Mephibosheth became lame. Now, that lameness was in his feet. We also before we came to Christ, were crippled and the reason for that crippling was the fall. This talks to the fall of man as the reason for his being crippled by sin. The fall caused Mephibosheth to be crippled. By the same token, the fall of man also caused our crippling through the dominance of sin.
The second thing regarding Ziba telling David of the lameness of Mephibosheth is that, it suggests a plan to discredit Mephibosheth from getting the kindness of David being extended to him. Why do I say so, because when we read 2Sam5v5 to 8, we understand that David hated the lame.
The reason for that being, when he wanted to take over Jerusalem from the Jebusites, they mocked him saying their able bodied men had no business fighting David but that in the lame and the blind, David would find his match. Because of that, the bible tells us David hated the lame. What is the significance of this? Even our God also hates that which is symbolized by lameness, He hates sin. So what does Ziba trying to discredit Mephibosheth before the king teach us, the devil tries to cite our old nature of sin as a reason to disqualify us from covenant grace.
Vere 4 is another verse where Ziba seems to be trying to discredit Mephibosheth once again. It says,
2Sa 9:4 And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar.
To understand this, we need a brief description of what it was. The word Lodebah means ‘land of nothing, land of no pasture’. It was a place where the rejected of society were found.That is what and where we were before he called us! We were in a desert, a land of no pasture, aland of the rejected and a land of nothing. Verse 5 just blew my mind! It says,
2Sa 9:5 Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar.
Isn’t this marvelous? A king send his delegation to that lowly gettho suburb of Lodebah to seek for a lame,whose heart David hated, the son of Saul who had chosen to fight David in every possible way and was thus a good candidate to be an enemy of David! Can you see the picture of the love of God here? We were alienated from the Father because we were lame(crippled due to sin) because of the fall(the fall of Adam) but he extended his hand of love.
It could have been enough for David to just spare Mephibosheth and not kill him, that could have been good enough. Now what does the king do? He does not send a word to call and or advise Mephibosheth to find his way out of Lodebah to the palace, instead, the king sends his own to fetch for him and to bring him to the king!. That is why we would say Christianity is not religion.Religion looks at man looking for God, but Christianity is the exact opposite, it’s God seeking for man! Its David sending for Mephibosheth!
It’s the Father sending His Son for us who were lame because of the fall, who were leaving in a land of nothing and with nothing good expected from us. He loved us in that condition. Ohhh how marvelous is the power of a covenant? The word tells us Christ had to lower Himself, taking the form of a servant even though he was and is God, but because of our Father’s love according to John3v16, he did not ask us to look for ways of reaching out to him, rather, He reached out to us, in our lameness, in our sinfulness, in our land of no pasture, ohh my word!
As if that was not enough,verse7 even displays more grace.
2Sa 9:7 And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.
There are two marvelous privileges we get from this verse. The first one is the king initiates a total restoration to Mephibosheth and then initiates communion. Is this not what our Father does to us the moment we come to Christ? But for restoration to happen, there is a necessity for one to have had lost out something. We get the picture that Mephibosheth, because he was now lame and unable to help himself, he lost his inheritance, most probably to Ziba. The symbol we get form that is, after the fall of man, through Adam we lost our dominion. So when Christ came, part of hismission was to restore us to our original position! So you see restoration being one of the very first benefits we get because of grace!
Another story with the same meaning is the one of the prodigal son. When the son came back, the first thing the Father did was to cloth him with a robe, a symbol of our imputed righteousness, the righteousness of Christ imputed in us. He was then given a ring. There is powerful significance on the ring as well as on the shoes given to the prodigal, subject for another day.
Suffice it for now to highlight that they both had a significance on the restoration of sonship, which restoration is the image we get from the Mephibosheth story. Then just like in Mephibosheth story, after restoration, came communion with the king, even the prodigal son story, after restoration of sonship, came communion with the father during the party. All this shows that it is the joy of the Father because of the covenant, to display his mercy and grace upon us.
So the covenant between David and Jonathan made king David to display his mercy by way of sparing the life of Mephibosheth, a dead dog like us gentiles who were regarded as dogs, and following him in lodebah, taking him to Jerusalem, initiating a restoration followed by a continual communion where the king would always eat with Mephibosheth. How much more shall our Father, because of the new covenant, the new testament, follow us in our Lobedah, take us from being nothing, from the land of nothing, and bring us to the heavenly Jerusalem, restore us to our original position and give us the communion with himself for eternity.
We have a better and a more powerful covenant, one that is not written on tables of stone but on our hearts. Let us therefore embrace this mind boggling grace and rejoice in the Lord for surely, this covenant is exceedingly powerful and able to catapult us to high levels in Christ.