Mar 1, 2007

Learning to Be Salt

by Kari Diane Pike

At the beginning of the year, our Gospel Doctrine teacher challenged us to record or thoughts and inspirations as we study the scriptures. The intention is to learn how to gain even more insight as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As a writer, I saw other benefits as well and took up the challenge. Here is what I learned from a lesson in salt today.

Our lesson scheduled for this upcoming Sunday concerns Matthew 5 – “The Sermon on the Mount: A More Excellent Way.” The object of the lesson is to gain a greater understanding of how the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount can help us live a higher law…or how to “be better.”

Knowing how much room I have for improvement, I began my study of this chapter with gusto; looking up every reference listed in the footnotes. (Picture a starving kid at the buffet line, piling her plate, shoving bites into her mouth as she moves from dish to dish.) I wanted to understand. I wanted to be better. I wanted to be filled! (I still do!) But when I got to verse 13, I stopped “stuffing” and began tasting, relishing, and truly feasting on the words of Christ.

Matthew 5:13 says, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under the foot of men.” I have tried many times in the past to understand the symbolism of salt in the scriptures. I know that salt was one of the few means men had to preserve food, meat in particular, before the invention of refrigeration. Meat spoiled very quickly without the preservative qualities of salt. In the past, when I read that scripture, I saw the correlation between the need to be obedient and set a good example so that through the influence of the Holy Ghost we can be effective parents, teachers, and leaders. This time, I saw something more. I could see a higher law!

The footnotes to Matthew 5:13 directed me to Leviticus 2:13: “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering; with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” In other words, as it points out in the same footnote, salt was part of the sacrificial ritual. Without the salt, the offering was unacceptable before the Lord.

Numbers 18:19, “All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel off unto the Lord, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord unto thee and the seed with thee.” Salt is a token of the covenant. But what covenant? If we are the salt of the earth, what does that mean? How does it work?

I found that Doctrine & Covenants 101:39-40 tells us, “When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men; they are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold it is henceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.” D&C 103:9-10 is another reference. It states, “For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; And inasmuch as they are not saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under the foot of men.” (Isn't it interesting that this verse uses the term "savior" rather than "savor?")

How can we be saviors of men? Oh! I think I am beginning to understand! D&C 2: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their father. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” Then D&C 138:48 says, “Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fullness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.”

It is through our baptismal and temple covenants that we “salt” the earth, is it not? Just as the sacrifices of Biblical times were unacceptable without the salt, if we fail to keep our covenants, thus losing our savor, then the earth’s creation will have been for naught, for without the salt, the sacrifice is unused and utterly wasted.

I know there is much more to this beyond my own understanding. I hope to continue to learn and grow and keep my "savor" so that I might continue to be the salt of the earth.


  1. Oh, Kari, I'd like to be like you and study deeply. I'm so grateful for others who do and are willing to share what they've learned.

    My husband is a deep thinker and deep studyier. He reads more slowly than I, but what he reads stays forever. I read fast and the words evaporate from my memory almost as fast as they appear. How can I ponder on what isn't there?
    Luckily, I'm an auditory learner, and as we discuss the scriptures something managest to stick.

    I appreciate your posting. I'll read it again, slowly.

  2. Thank, Liz. After I posted, I became concerned that perhaps this was not an appropriate place to share my thoughts on the subject. but I experienced such a wonderful sense of joy learning and I had to tell everyone! Thanks for letting me know you read it. I'll try to be a little less serious next time.


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