Episode 34. September 18, 2016. In episode 20, I mentioned that I had been studying King Benjamin’s address and had identified 13 topics from his sermon that he taught and encouraged his people to act upon. Today I want to share those 13 topics and the attributes King Benjamin encourages us to develop.
I want to first lay out some context of King Benjamin’s speech. What was going on in the Nephite society at this time that moved King Benjamin to gather his people and teach them these important doctrines?
In the Words of Mormon beginning in verse 13 we learn that King Benjamin gathered together his armies and stood against the Lamanites who had come down out of the land of Nephi to attack the Nephites. We are told that King Benjamin did fight with his own arm with the sword of Laban. Here was a real leader!
After driving the Lamanites out of their land, King Benjamin continued to be plagued with difficult times. The record talks of false Christs, false prophets, false preachers and false teachers causing all sorts of contention among his people. We learn that these contentions resulted in many dissensions away unto the Lamanites. We also learn that King Benjamin refused to give up on his people. The false Christs, false prophets, false preachers and false teachers were all punished according to their crimes and with the help of other holy prophets who were among his people, they labored with all their might of body and faculty of their souls to once more establish peace in the land. In fact, the peace that ensued lasted until King Benjamin died about 9 years later.
In Mosiah Chapter 1 we read about King Benjamin’s three sons: Mosiah, Helorum and Helaman. In that chapter King Benjamin talks to his sons about the value of the records and artifacts in his possession. This included the brass plates and the plates of Nephi, the Liahona and the Sword of Laban. Here are just a few of things he says about the importance of the records on the plates:
- By reading them the mysteries of God can be understood
- Because of the plates, the commandments will always be before their eyes
- Without the plates they would have dwindled in unbelief
- If they search the plates diligently, they will profit thereby
At the end of the chapter he asks his oldest son, Mosiah, to gather the people together so that he can teach them and declare to them that Mosiah will become the new king.
And so it is that we begin chapter 2, with King Benjamin, atop his tower, teaching the people in his final act as their king. Now I think it is important to keep in mind that these people had been humbled because of the wars, contentions and dissensions that they had previously experienced. It is no wonder when king Benjamin called them together that they came as families, with the firstlings of their flocks so that they could offer sacrifice to the Lord in gratitude for delivering them out of the hands of their enemies and for giving them just men to be their teachers and a just man to be their king. They came ready to listen and ready to act upon the counsel King Benjamin would give to them. We know that the gathering was so large that King Benjamin had his words written and distributed to all of the people because not everyone could hear him, even from the tower he had had erected.
In verse 9 of Chapter 2 he sets the final stage in preparation for his sermon with these words: “I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.”
That is our biggest clue right there that what he is about to share will unfold the mysteries of God to our view. Pretty exciting I think.
Let me just say one more thing before I share the 13 topics that he covered. King Benjamin is speaking from his own experience. He clearly understands the mysteries and furthermore he has been taught about the birth and life of Jesus Christ by an angel (see Mosiah 3:2). This is a seasoned Prophet and we can learn much from him. Some of these principles he taught comes from his own example, perhaps even more so than by the words alone that he taught.
So here are the 13 topics:
- Seek out the words of the living prophets and apostles
- Humble ourselves and become as little children willing to submit to all things which the Lord sees to inflict upon us so that our minds, ears and hearts are open.
- Be filled with gratitude for what we have and who we are
- Serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength. Be self-reliant so that we are in a position to help others
- Be obedient to the commandments of God and willingly submit our will to the will of the Father. Take accountability for our sins.
- Be aware of our own sins and then repent often so that our lives can be filled with joy. Learn how to apply the atonement in our own lives and then encourage others to repent and apply the atonement in their own lives.
- Teach others about the Saviors mission and how to receive great blessings through repentance and obedience. Pray to know about that which is to come so that we can teach this to others.
- Believe in and receive angels who will teach us.
- Receive personal revelation from the Lord about our standing before him, which then will lead to greater light and knowledge to fill our souls with rejoicing.
- Be filled with belief that God can work miracles in our lives.
- Be merciful, especially to those who know not God and to little children who have not yet reached the age of accountability.
- Call on the Lord daily through prayer
- Have a deep and abiding testimony of the Savior
In addition to these 13 topics, I believe King Benjamin’s sermon also pointed us towards developing the following attributes:
- Being filled with the love of God
- Retaining a remission of our sins
- Growing in the knowledge of the glory of him that created us, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true
- Not having a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably and render to every man according to that which is his due
- Not suffering our children to go hungry or naked, nor transgress the laws of God nor fight and quarrel one with another and serve the devil.
- Teaching our children to walk in the ways of truth and soberness
- Teaching our children to love one another and to serve one another (which means we must do things ourselves)
- Succoring those that stand in need of our succor
- Administering of our substance to those who stand in need
- Not suffering the beggar to put up his petition in vain or turn him out to perish.
- Imparting of our substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally according to their wants.
There is so much in King Benjamin’s address to learn from, that together with my son Garen we developed a list of questions that we can score ourselves against as we strive to live up to the inspired expectations of King Benjamin. If you are interested in these questions here is the link: king-benjamin-assessment