We have finished the small plates of Nephi (1 Nephi through Omni) and in Mosiah we begin Mormon’s abridgement of the large plates of Nephi, which continues through 4 Nephi. Note the change wherein Mormon is relating things in the “third person” point of view (he, him, his, they, them, their), rather than the “first person” account (I, me, my, we, us, our) that we saw on the small plates.
Mosiah 1:1-7 To Become Educated in the Scriptures
King Benjamin ensured that his three sons were “taught in all the language of his fathers” (verse 2), and “concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass” (verse 3). There were several purposes for this education, including:
- So that his sons would “become men of understanding” and “know concerning the prophecies” (verse 2).
- So that they could know “concerning these records and these commandments [on the plates of brass]” and thus avoid “ignorance” (verse 3).
- That they might “teach them [the scriptures] to their children” (verse 4)
- To be able to “understand of [God’s] mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes” (verse 5).
- Thus they would not become “like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things” (verse 5).
Beloved King Benjamin then bears his testimony of the truthfulness of the scriptures, with the injunction to “search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby [and] prosper in the land” (verses 6-7). In what ways do you feel the scriptures have helped you to “profit” and “prosper” in your life?
Isn’t it interesting that the righteous consider God’s commandments to be a marvelous blessing (as noted by Benjamin in verses 3, 5 above), whereas the disobedient often consider the commandments to be a hindrance to their “freedom.” But indeed, the Lord’s laws for His children allow us to be free (see John 8:32) and to become more capable and more like He is. (See also D&C 59:3-4, wherein the Lord promises that He will bless the obedient with “commandments not a few.”)
Mosiah 2:9-31 Righteous Leadership
What is the essence of good leadership? In chapters 2-5 the aging Prophet/King Benjamin gathers his people and delivers a powerful discourse. He first counsels them not to “trifle with” (diminish or squander) his words, but to open their ears, hearts, and minds (verse 9). Then he recites a beautiful essay about leadership and service, being great lessons for all of us in our families, communities, church callings, and all other associations. He said the following about righteous leaders:
- They are like all other mortals (verse 10; see also verse 26).
- They humbly acknowledge their position and feel an accountability to God, relying on Him for strength and support (verses 11, 15-16; see also verses 27-28).
- They strive to serve their people with all their “might, mind and strength” (verses 11, 14, 16).
- They do not abuse privilege by seeking gain; instead they labor for their own keep (verses 12-14).
- They do not burden nor oppress their people, but teach them to keep God’s commandments (verses 13-14).
- In addition to setting an example of service, they urge their people to serve God and others (verses 17-19).
- They deflect praise and instead teach their people to “render all the thanks and praise” to God (verse 20; see also verses 21-24, 34).
Mosiah 2:32-41 The “Awful Situation” versus the “Happy State”
King Benjamin gave abundant warning against obeying “the evil spirit” (verses 32, 37), which can result in punishment, loss of the Spirit, guilt, pain, anguish, torment, and an “awful situation” (verses 33, 36-40). He then contrasts awful situation with “the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God,” who are “blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual [and] received into heaven” (verse 41). Note also the contrast between “never-ending torment” (verse 39) and “never-ending happiness” (verse 41; see also Mosiah 3:24-27). We may simply ask ourselves, “What makes me feel awful?” and “What makes me happy?”
Mosiah 3:1-21 “Glad Tidings of Great Joy”
This portion of King Benjamin’s teachings is about the life of the Savior—whose birth was about 124 years into the future—and it was given to Benjamin by an angel (see verses 1-3). The angel woke Benjamin from his sleep to deliver “glad tidings of great joy” by which he could “rejoice” and “be filled with joy” (verses 3-4). Look for the following, including how each truth can bring us great joy:
- Look for the various names and titles used by the angel that refer to Jesus (verses 5, 8, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 21). Which of these names or titles have special meaning for you? Why?
- What things would Christ do—and what would happen to Him—during His mortal ministry? (verses 5-10). How do these verses add to what you learn from the records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?
- What things did the angel teach about the Atonement? (verses 7, 11, 13, 15-19).
- Take special note of how the Atonement blesses these three different groups of people:
- Those who “died not knowing the will of God” or “ignorantly sinned” (verse 11)
- “little children” and anyone who dies “in his infancy” (verses 16, 18)
- Those who “humble themselves and become as little children” (verses 18-19)
- What do you learn about the principles of faith and repentance, in relation to the efficacy of the Atonement? (verses 9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 21).
- Why should these words of the angel be considered the most important part of King Benjamin’s discourse?
- What may the Spirit be whispering that you can do in order to more fully overcome the “natural man”? (verse 19).