The Words of Mormon serves as a bridge between the small plates of Nephi and Mormon’s abridgement of the large plates of Nephi. Written almost 400 years after the birth of Jesus Christ, this book contains a short explanation of what the small plates of Nephi are and why Mormon felt they needed to be included with the other sacred writings. The Words of Mormon also provides valuable insight into why King Benjamin had such great influence with his people.
The small plates of Nephi were mainly devoted to the spiritual matters and the ministry and teachings of the prophets. The large plates of Nephi contained mostly a secular history of the people written by the kings, starting with Nephi. (See 1 Nephi 9:2–4.) From the time of Mosiah, however, the large plates also included items of major spiritual importance.
The plates of Mormon, or the gold plates delivered to Joseph Smith, contained an abridgment by Mormon from the large plates of Nephi, with many commentaries. These gold plates also contained a continuation of the history by Mormon and additions by his son Moroni.
Mosiah 1 is a record of King Benjamin’s teachings to his sons. He taught them that the scriptures help us remember God and keep His commandments. As King Benjamin approached the end of his life, he desired to speak to his people about his service as king and to encourage them to be obedient to God. King Benjamin’s speech is recorded in Mosiah 2–5 and describes Christ’s suffering and Atonement, the role of justice and mercy, and the need to take upon ourselves the name of Christ by covenant. At the beginning of his speech, recorded in Mosiah 2, King Benjamin emphasized the need to serve God by serving others and the happy state of those who keep the commandments.
Think about a time when you felt prompted by the Spirit to do something. Did you know how everything would turn out if you followed this prompting? What gave you the determination and confidence to act on the prompting?
The prophet Mormon was commanded by God to abridge the records of his people, which had been kept on the plates of Nephi. In about A.D. 385, as he was about to deliver his abridged records to his son, Moroni, he followed a prompting even though he did not know the outcome.
Mormon found something as he was searching among the records. Read Words of Mormon 1:3 to discover what he found. (“These plates” refers to the small plates of Nephi, which contained 1 Nephi through Omni.) Read Words of Mormon 1:4–6, and consider marking in your scriptures why Mormon was pleased when he discovered what was on these small plates.
Read Words of Mormon 1:7, and identify why Mormon included these small plates with his abridgment of the plates of Nephi. You may wish to mark this principle in your scriptures: “The Lord knoweth all things.” By understanding and believing this truth, you can develop faith to obey the promptings from the Holy Ghost that you receive.
The Lord had commanded Nephi to make the small plates and write the sacred things of his people on them (see 1 Nephi 9:3). At that time, Nephi declared, “The Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not” (1 Nephi 9:5).
This purpose was made clear centuries later, in 1828, when the Prophet Joseph Smith began translating the gold plates. He first translated 116 pages of manuscript from Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi, and then these pages were lost or stolen when Joseph allowed Martin Harris to take them. The Lord told Joseph not to retranslate the lost portion because evil men planned to alter the words on the lost pages and thereby discredit the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. The Lord told him to translate the history on the small plates, which covered the same time period. This history focused more on sacred things. (See D&C 10:10, 41–43; see also 1 Nephi 9:3–4.)
This experience is significant evidence that the Lord knows all things that are to come. He knew that the history on the small plates would be needed, and He prompted Mormon to include the plates with his abridgment.
How can knowing this truth help you when you receive promptings from the Spirit?
Describe in your scripture study journal a time when you or someone you know acted on a prompting from the Holy Ghost even though you or they may not have understood the prompting at first. Write about how you think you can better prepare to recognize and respond to the Lord’s promptings. Remember that as you are faithful to the promptings of the Spirit of the Lord, He will work “in [you] to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 1:7).
King Benjamin was a righteous king who faced many obstacles during his reign, including war with the Lamanites and doctrinal contention among his people. King Benjamin led the armies of the Nephites “in the strength of the Lord” against their enemies and eventually established peace in the land (see Words of Mormon 1:13–14). With the help of “many holy men,” he labored to rebuke the false prophets and false teachers who were causing contention among the people, thereby also establishing the peace that comes from righteousness (see Words of Mormon 1:15–18).
Read Words of Mormon 1:12–18, and fill in the blanks below with the numbers of the verses that best teach the following truths:
The Lord calls prophets who can lead people to peace despite challenges.
We can find peace by following the inspired leadership of the prophets.
In the strength of the Lord, we can overcome challenges.
Imagine what your life would be like if you had never had the scriptures to read, study, and be taught from.
King Benjamin taught his sons how their lives would have been different if they had not had the scriptures. As recorded in Mosiah 1:3–5, three times he used a variation of the phrase “were it not for these things [the scriptures]” to help his sons understand the importance of the scriptures.
As you read Mosiah 1:1–8, look for the blessings the Nephites would have lost if they had not had the scriptures. Compare what you learned with Omni 1:17–18. In your scripture study journal, write three or four sentences completing the following phrase: If I did not have the scriptures …
Consider writing the following principle in your scriptures next to Mosiah 1:1–8: Searching the scriptures helps us to know and keep the commandments.
King Benjamin taught his people the importance of being faithful to the commandments and explained what happens to those who become wicked after having been “highly favored people of the Lord” (Mosiah 1:13). Read Mosiah 1:13–17, and compare Mosiah 1:13 with Alma 24:30. Then identify at least five consequences that come upon those who turn away from the Lord. You may want to mark or number these consequences in your scriptures.
Read Mosiah 2:1–9, and write in answers to the following questions:
Who was gathered together?
Where did they gather?
What was done so the large crowd could hear King Benjamin’s words?
To better understand King Benjamin’s character, read Mosiah 2:11–15 and identify phrases that show King Benjamin was focused on righteousness and service rather than status or recognition.
Then ponder the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter: “Don’t be overly concerned with status. Do you recall the counsel of the Savior regarding those who seek the ‘chief seats’ or the ‘uppermost rooms’? ‘He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.’ (Matt. 23:6, 11.) It is important to be appreciated. But our focus should be on righteousness, not recognition; on service, not status” (“To the Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 96).
Study Mosiah 2:16–17, and mark the principle we can learn about service from King Benjamin: When we are serving our fellow beings, we are serving God. (Mosiah 2:17 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)
Think about a time when someone blessed your life by serving you. How did you (or how could you) show your appreciation to God for the person who served both you and God in righteousness? How did you show your appreciation to that person?
After teaching his people about the need to serve others, King Benjamin taught about the many ways in which God blesses us and our need to be grateful to Him.
As you study Mosiah 2:19–24, 34, consider the many ways in which God blesses you. Think about how you can show your gratitude to Him. Then answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why would King Benjamin refer to himself, his people, and us as “unprofitable servants”?
Why is it important for us to remember our indebtedness to God?
King Benjamin’s words teach us that when we feel indebted to God, we want to serve others and our gratitude increases.
In Mosiah 2:34, King Benjamin taught that we should “render” to God all that we have and are. To render means to “give or submit.” You may want to write the definition next to this word in your scriptures. Reflect on how you might give to God all that you have and are. Remember that as you keep God’s commandments and seek to give sincere service, He blesses you for it.
The last verses of Mosiah 2 contain an important warning from King Benjamin to his people. Have you ever seen a sign that told you to “beware”? (For example, a sign might warn you about high voltage wires, fallen rocks, wild animals, or a strong current.) Read Mosiah 2:32–33, 36–38 to discover what King Benjamin told his people to beware of. (The word wo in verse 33 means “sorrow and misery.”) Write a sentence describing what will happen to those who are “in open rebellion against God” (verse 37) or who knowingly break the commandments of God.
Read the following statement: “Some people knowingly break God’s commandments, planning to repent later, such as before they go to the temple or serve a mission. Such deliberate sin mocks the Savior’s Atonement” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 29).
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on the importance of recognizing when we may be withdrawing ourselves from the Spirit:
“We should … endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord …’ (Mosiah 2:36). …
“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 30).
Ponder what people lose—sometimes without even realizing it—when they withdraw themselves from the Spirit. Read Mosiah 2:40–41, and identify what King Benjamin wanted us to consider and what he wanted us to remember.
In your scripture study journal:
Record some experiences that have taught you that if you are obedient to the Lord, you will be blessed both temporally and spiritually.
Select one area of your life in which you would like to be more obedient to God’s commandments. Write a goal to improve in that area.
Read Matthew 22:36–40; 25:40; and Mosiah 2:17. Make a scripture list, chain, or cluster by cross-referencing these scriptures together. This scripture study technique will help clarify meanings and enlarge understanding.
Explain the connections between the passages you just linked.
Ponder the following questions:
When have you felt that you were serving God by serving another person?
What specific things can you do for someone in your life that the Savior would do if He were here?
After you have worked to memorize Mosiah 2:17, write it by memory in your scripture study journal.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Words of Mormon–Mosiah 2 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: