What would French fries taste like without salt? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Salt has been around for a long time.
Archeologists found a 6,400-year-old city that was entirely built around salt production near the Black Sea in what is today Bulgaria.
And while it’s doubtful anyone was eating French fries in the year 5,400 B.C., this valuable commodity became a big deal over the centuries.
Did you know that the word “salary” comes from an ancient word meaning “salt-money,” referring to a Roman soldier’s allowance for the purchase of salt? Someone who earns his pay is still said to be “worth his salt.” In some cultures, people throw salt over their shoulders when they make a promise because it was often part of a covenant-making process that involved preserving the pledge.
In Biblical times, if two parties entered into an agreement, salt was used (eaten) in the presence of witnesses, and its use served to bind their contract.
King Abijah’s speech in 2 Chronicles 13:5 mentions just such a salt covenant:
“Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David forever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?”
Here, King Abijah refers to the strong, legally binding promise of God to give Israel to David and his sons forever.
The Old Testament law also commanded the use of salt in all grain offerings and makes clear that the “salt of the covenant” should not be missing from the offerings (Leviticus 2:13).
The idea of a salt covenant carries a great deal of meaning, primarily because of the value of salt.
From almost the beginning of time, the most common way a person could preserve the edibility of food, especially meat, was through salt. Its ability to maintain the integrity of food and slow spoilage was well known.
This is likely the reason why God, in underscoring his enduring promise to always take care of (or preserve) the priestly tribe of Levi, labeled it a “covenant of salt forever” (Numbers 18:19).
Interestingly, salt also impedes the action of yeast (leaven) in food. If you add too much salt to a bread recipe that requires yeast, the bread won’t rise!
In scripture, leaven often symbolizes sin and a rebellious attitude, as well as the ability to negatively influence others (1 Corinthians 5, Galatians 5:9). The inclusion of salt, therefore, represents the preservation and maintenance of purity in a world of corruption.
In summary, the meaning of a salt covenant is an agreement that is meant to endure regardless of the circumstances, likened to the covenant we make with the Lord at our baptism.
It was an ancient symbol of unbreakable friendships and alliances that were to be preserved.
Today, salt is easy to come by and used extensively to enhance flavor and still preserve food. And while we don’t necessarily need it as a preservative because we have refrigeration, in Jesus’ day, salt was an important and precious commodity:
- When Jesus told His disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” (Matthew 5:13, 3 Nephi 12:13) it meant that we should add value in this world (make a difference) and we should have a preserving influence (an influence over sin by upholding the standard of Christ).
- The Apostle Paul actually references salt by encouraging us, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Said another way, when we talk and interact with others, permit the Spirit of God to lead and influence what we say and how we say it.
So, maybe the next time you reach for the saltshaker (or enjoy a French fry) you might think twice…
About how important you are to the Lord.
How much your spiritual influence means to those in a sinful world.
And that Lord saw something special in you to affect those around you by your righteousness, love, compassion, joy, and hope in Christ!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.