A covenant is an alliance, a formal relationship, with a promise that the relationship will endure.
When David and Jonathan became close friends, “their souls were knit together,” and Jonathan loved David “as his own soul.” As an acknowledgement of that love and as a promise of continued friendship, they made a covenant with each other. As a symbol of that covenant, Jonathan (who was far more wealthy than David) gave David one of his outfits to wear. (See 1 Samuel 18:1-4.)
We are accustomed to define the word “covenant” in legal terms, as a bilateral set of promises. But the first time the word appears in the Bible, it doesn’t sound like a legal agreement at all. God commands Noah to build an ark, and then He explains why: There will be a great flood which will destroy every living thing on earth. “But with thee,” He says, “will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee” (Genesis 6:18). This sounds like the agreement between Jonathan and David: God loves Noah and wants to reassure him that their relationship is enduring, not fleeting.
The English word “covenant” descends from two Latin words: com, meaning “together” and venire, which means to come. So the Latin word convenire, means literally to come together or to unite.
One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to help the descendants of Israel “know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever” (Title Page). When Jesus visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He promised that He would honor His covenant relationship with Israel far into the future:
Then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them.3 Nephi 16:11
And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.3 Nephi 20:29
Elder Gerrit W. Gong taught:
Our God is a God of covenant. By His nature, He “keepest covenant and showest mercy.” His covenants endure “so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved.” We are not meant to wander in existential uncertainty and doubt but to rejoice in cherished covenant relationships “stronger than the cords of death….”
To belong with God and to walk with each other on His covenant path is to be blessed by covenant belonging.“Covenant Belonging,” General Conference, October 2019
Today, I will be grateful for the covenants God has made with His children on earth, including the covenants He has made with me through priesthood ordinances. I will remember that those covenants are a representation of His love for me and His commitment to me. I will strive to act in a way that is appropriate to that covenant relationship and to be more united with Him.