lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”
(Matt. 5:13a KJV)
The Greek definition of ‘savour’ actually means to become insipid, to make as a simpleton, or to act or become foolish. The word ‘lost’ is not in the Greek. ‘Salt,’ in Greek, also figuratively means prudent, which in English means wise, discreet, circumspect, and sensible.
If we reword it, it might say something like this, “You are the salt, the preservative, the wise quality of the earth, but if you become foolish, with what will you salt?” The Living Bible translates it this way, “You are the world’s seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world?”
In biblical times, salt reigned high on the importance and necessity ladder as it preserved food from spoiling, was used as an antiseptic, and was added to sacrifices.
During those days, covenants were made between individuals, between a king and his people, between two groups or nations, or between God and a man or His people. This agreement required each party to make promises which were never to be broken – ever!
If the two participants of a covenant ratified it with a meal, they used salt, which signified the custom of pledging friendship or confirming a binding compact, for when men ate together, they became friends, binding them in reconciliation and peace.
It also symbolized preservation and a perpetual obligation. Once a person joined in a salt covenant with God or another person, he risked the penalty of being cast out if he breached his loyalty to his oath.
Salt symbolized covenant’s preservation from decay and the surrender of self to the Lord, eradicating all impurities and hypocrisy. It also indicated loyalty and living a life of wholesome character and speech, giving flavor to life.
We see this in scripture, as Jesus told the disciples, “You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other,” (Mark 9:50b NLT) and as Paul wrote, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:6 NIV)
In those ancient times, if salt lost its flavor, it became worthless as a preservative and was taken to the temple in Jerusalem. When it rained, the marble courtyard became slippery, so they spread the salt out to keep people from falling, hence the saying, “to be trampled under the feet of men.”
Salt’s properties preserve from corruption and putrefaction. As Matthew Henry said, “So Christians, by their lives and instructions, are to keep the world from entire moral corruption.”
If we have made our covenant with God, are we living up to our perpetual obligation to be the Lord’s salt to the world? Do we have those qualities of salt within us that bring healing, preservation, and flavoring? Is our conversation full of grace and seasoned with salt?
Or have we lost our saltiness? “If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world?”