“YHWH, Elohey Yisrael, there is none like You, Elohim, in the heavens or in the earth, keeping covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.” 2 Chronicles 6:14 (Darby)
Servants – God keeps His promises. And God is merciful. That is very good news! But who are the beneficiaries of this good news? Solomon answers, “His servants.” How are they distinguished from the rest of Mankind? His servants walk before Him with all their hearts.
‘eved is the Hebrew word translated “servant.” It usually means “slave,” a facet we should not overlook. While slavery did not carry the same nuances that we associate with the word today, the idea of unwavering commitment and ownership stands behind Hebrew concepts of service to another. This noun is derived from the verb ‘avad, “to do, make, carry out or perform.” The basic tasks of a slave are to do the will of the master, to carry out the master’s instructions and to perform one’s duty to the master. Certainly Solomon has these actions in mind when he calls those who experience God’s covenant keeping and mercy avadecha (“Your servants”).
This thought is particularly distressing. Why? Because we want to experience the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, and this thought suggests that only those who walk before Him with all their hearts are the beneficiaries of His covenant and His mercy. If that’s the case, most of us (if not all) are not going to make it. Try counting the number of days that you walked before the Lord as His ‘eved with all your heart. Actually, try counting the number of hours or even minutes. Days is probably far too much. Can Solomon really mean that unless we are walking before Him with all of our hearts, we are not going to experience His covenant and hesed? I don’t see how that can be the case.
Paul assures us, in case we didn’t know it already, that we have all sinned and deserve punishment. Paul also assures us that we are no longer condemned because of the grace of God and the obedience of His Son. Mercy triumphs! We are beneficiaries of His love in spite of our faltering commitment. But that doesn’t excuse faltering. Just as the biblical concept of the wicked describes those who over a course of time reject the instructions of YHWH, so the concept of servants describes those who over the course of time continually strive for obedience. God’s beneficiaries are not the perfected ones. They are the broken but repentant ones. To walk before Him with all of our hearts is to set the course of our lives so that His purposes become our purposes. That takes a long time, but God is patient. He might not be patient with excuses and rationalizations, but He is patient with those He loves to transform. Someday, upon the arrival of the renewed covenant, we will serve Him without wavering. Today we serve Him in spite of wavering.
Topical Index: servant, ‘eved, obedience, 2 Chronicles 6:14