Okay, we left off last time’s thrilling account with the servants hauling all the arms Ammon had cut off of the bad guys into the king’s court. In this chapter, Lamoni gets an up-close, eye-witness account from the servants about Ammon’s courage, bravery, and strength in defending the king’s flocks. King Lamoni believes Ammon to be more than a man, maybe even the Great Spirit, come to punish him for his wickedness. The servants say they don’t know about that, but they do know Ammon “is a friend to the king.” (3)
Lamoni is pricked with guilt for the men he has slain in the past (because they lost his sheep). This practice of plunder among the Lamanites was common. So, apparently, was the practice of capital punishment by their kings. He had been taught about a Great Spirit by his fathers, but he (and his people) felt that they could do whatever they wanted and it was right. Sounds like some philosophies taught today.
The king’s worldview has suddenly shifted and he fears he has done wrong. This is the first step in repentance, acknowledging guilt and being humbled.
When Lamoni asks where Ammon is, he is told that he is preparing his horses for the trip Lamoni would take that day to his father’s. The king is “more astonished, because of the faithfulness of Ammon, saying: Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them.” (10)
Ammon built up a trust with the king, by being faithful and performing his best work with precision and care to details.
The king wants to call Ammon to come to him, but he dares not.
When Ammon does come, “he saw that the countenance of the king was changed.” (12)
He is about to leave, but one of the servants begs him to stay. Ammon asks what the king would have him do, but Lamoni doesn’t answer him for an hour. Talk about awkward.
He asks him again and the king is still mute. The Spirit gives Ammon the gift of discernment, and “he perceived the thoughts of the king.” (16) Ammon tells him he is just a man, not a god, and reiterates that “whatsoever thou desirest which is right, that will I do.” (17) His loyalty and faithfulness are again displayed, making the king marvel even more.
Lamoni asks if he is the Great Spirit. Ammon says he is not. The king asks how he knows his thoughts, and by what power he slew his enemies. He will give anything to know the answer to this question.
Now Ammon being wise, yet harmless, he said unto Lamoni: Wilt thou hearken unto my words, if I tell thee by what power I do these things? And this is the thing that I desire of thee.”Alma 18:22
Ammon took advantage of moments God put in front of him.
Am I faithful to do my best work, as Ammon did, so I’m prepared for opportunities to share His truths with others when He plants these moments in my life?
Ammon begins to build a foundation of understanding for Lamoni. He asks if he believes in God. Lamoni admits to not understanding, so Ammon relates it to what he knows—the Great Spirit. “This is God,” (28) he says, and then builds upon that, teaching him that God “created all things which are in heaven, and in the earth.”
Lamoni asks if Ammon was sent by God. Here is Ammon’s answer.
I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true.
And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.”
Now when Ammon had said these words, he began at the creation of Adam, and told him all the things concerning the fall of man, and rehearsed and laid before him the records and the holy scriptures of the people, which had been spoken by the prophets, even down to the time that their father, Lehi, left Jerusalem.”Alma 18:34-36
The creation and the fall are the foundation upon which the rest of the plan of redemption is built. If we don’t understand those, we won’t see a need for Christ’s Atonement. The Creation helps us see the purpose for why we were sent to earth. The Fall helps us see that we are helpless and forever damned without help, which comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And His Atonement prepares us to be resurrected and stand before God again at the Judgment bar.
Ammon continues building this strong spiritual foundation for king Lamoni. He corrects his beliefs about their fathers, which is important. The knowledge of our spiritual history leads to repentance. That’s why reading the scriptures is vital, to ground us to our roots. To our God.
Ammon expounds upon the plan of redemption, now that the pillars are in place to bear up Lamoni’s testimony. Lamoni eats up this knowledge, believing everything he’s taught. In fact, his belief is proved by his next actions.
And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy; according to thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have upon me, and my people. (41)Alma 18:41
He then falls to the earth, as if dead. His servants take the king to his wife, where he lays for two days and two nights, his family mourning for him. We’ll see what happens to him in chapter 19. But for now, think on these questions.
How strong is my foundation of truth? We see through Ammon’s teachings to Lamoni how important knowing the basics of the plan of redemption is. How well do I understand the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection, and the Judgment?
Does my testimony of these truths lead me to daily repentance and thanksgiving to God?
What could I do to fortify my spiritual foundation?