Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel. (Numbers 25:12-13)
As has already been stated, rather than being rebuked for his actions, God bestowed upon Phineas a reward. God gave to him and his descendants an everlasting priesthood, and furthermore, his descendants would possess the office of High Priest. Until this time, the High Priesthood was to Aaron, his sons and then to those born to them afterwards. Phineas, Aaron’s grandson, had already been born and was not considered a priest — that is, until this event. In short, his righteous zeal separated him and his family from rest of the tribe of Levi. In effect, he was set apart from those already set apart because of his concern for entire body.
In addition to this promotion, God made a “covenant of peace” with him for his righteous attitude and action. That is to say, God assured him of the Creator’s beneficent attitude towards him and his family, meaning that he would not have to fear any retaliation from Zimri’s family — and there were those in the congregation who accused him or murder and wanted him punished. God, in effect, became His defender and benefactor not allowing anyone to exact their vengeance upon one so dear to God. On that note, let us consider another passage found in Ezekiel:
I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken. I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. (Ezekiel 34:23-25)
The “David” mentioned in this prophecy is not the shepherd boy who became a king; it speaks of a King who became a Shepherd to God’s people — and who is returning to rule over His people. The people are those who have come into the land to live under the protection and care of the King — and are thus given a covenant of peace. Once again, God becomes their benefactor and defender, keeping them from all who would harass and oppress them. We do not yet live in the land but we are, nevertheless, under the watchful eye of our Good Shepherd and King. We do not have to live in fear of the enemy’s retribution knowing that the Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers.
Blessings and Shalom,