1 And now, king Benjamin thought it was expedient, after having finished speaking to the people, that he should take the names of all those who had entered into a covenant with God to keep his commandments.
2 And it came to pass that there was not one soul, except it were little children, but who had entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ.
Names are important.
After hearing King Benjamin’s speech, his people pleaded with God to “apply the atoning blood of Christ” so that their sins could be forgiven (Mosiah 4:2). As a result, they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and their guilt disappeared. They subsequently made a covenant with God to obey His commandments for the rest of their lives (Mosiah 5:5).
All this was done verbally. It was a memorable event: the final speech of a beloved king, given as the people were all gathered, in families, around the temple. But Benjamin realized that they needed something to make this covenant more permanent. So he took their names. He made a written list of the people who had made the covenant. This accomplished several things:
- It made the covenant more durable. Decades later, it would be harder to forget or deny that they had made these promises. We all know that a written record is more reliable than our memory, particularly over a long period of time.
- It created a sense of community. A group of names on a single document with a single purpose represents a group of people who are unified. This list emphasized what they had in common—a covenant with God and a determination to keep that covenant forever—rather than their differences.
- It emphasized the importance of a name. This group of people had just taken upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ. What did that mean to them? By allowing their names to be taken, perhaps they felt more fully the importance of the name which they had just taken upon themselves. A name isn’t just a name; it represents something. Just as signing our names on a document creates real obligations, taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ creates accountability to Him.
Today, I will be grateful that my name has been “taken,” that there is a written record of the covenants I have made with God, and that this record unites me with other people who have made the same covenant. I will also remember the obligations I have taken on, because I have declared my willingness to take upon myself the name of Jesus Christ.