By Covenant, Not Contract

“Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David” (Isaiah 55:3, nasb).

A covenant is like a turbo promise. When God declared His covenant with His people, He was reminding them of His everlasting hesed—His covenant love, His mercy and kindness. It is the Old Testament equivalent of grace.

We have a covenant relationship with God, a relationship not contingent upon our conduct, because that’s what He decided. He is the covenant-making-and-keeping God. He is not a contract God, and the difference has eternal significance.

If God was a contract God, when you act incorrectly or live sinfully the contract would be broken. But a covenant is a relationship that’s not dependent on performance. In this case, all the responsibility lies with the one participant who can keep the covenant—God Himself.

Imagine you have an appointment with a dentist and decide not to keep it. When the dentist finds out, he won’t give you another thought and will just go on to the next patient. Or if you make a deal to sell your house, but suddenly your buyer walks away, the relationship is over. That’s how contracts work.

A covenant is not a contract. When the Bible reveals God as a covenant God, it means He has entered into a relationship that cannot be changed by your behavior.

If you’re saved by faith in His Son Jesus, God says in essence, I’m making a covenant commitment to you. I’m entering into a relationship with you that you can’t mess up in any way. And through the prophet Isaiah, He tells us what that looks like: “I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.”

Remember King David? His whole life was a testimony to God’s mercy—spared as a shepherd boy from being devoured by a lion, mauled by a bear, taken apart by a giant. As the successor to Israel’s throne, crazy King Saul chased David across the country trying to kill him. Again and again, God protected David’s life in fulfillment of the covenant He had made (1 Samuel 24).

David is the poster boy for a covenant relationship with God. Not even adultery and murder could put God’s covenant love to an end (Psalm 51). Get this: while failures may hurt fellowship, they don’t destroy covenant relationship.

God has declared His unchanging partnership with you, His child, through a covenant. You are in relationship with One who is like no other, anywhere, anytime! Because of His covenant love—which Lamentations 3:23 promises is new every morning—God will forgive you in His mercy and satisfy you with His kindness. He lives in you and brings an absolute delight that you will never find apart from Him.

Even though you may stumble in many ways (James 3:2), “Fear not.” Our God is the ultimate covenant keeper.


  • When was the last time you let your performance dictate the closeness of your relationship with the Lord?
  • Do you believe God loves you no more on your good days and no less on your bad days? How can you strengthen your faith in His covenant-keeping character?

Covenant-keeping Lord, how glad I am to be in Your presence, boldly coming to the throne of grace to receive what You have for me today. Thank You for drawing me close to experience covenant with You. Your grace is so amazing! Though I am unworthy, You welcome me as Your child and assure me of Your everlasting love. I am eternally grateful You are the covenant-keeping God! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.