The ten chapters that we look at today are about both the low and high points of the Nephite nation. This is a time of continual war, brought on in large part by the “contentions, and dissensions, and all manner of iniquity of the people of Nephi” (Alma 62:40) At the same time, just as the light shines more clearly in a darkened world, we see the power of goodness in Helaman’s 2060 stripling warriors. The image of these young men carrying the banner of freedom and faith with such unflinching goodness is one that shines right into our hearts today.

You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.

Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography. of the scripture.


The ten chapters that we look at today are about both the low and high points of the Nephite nation. This is a time of continual war, brought on in large part by the “contentions, and dissensions, and all manner of iniquity of the people of Nephi” (Alma 62:40) At the same time, just as the light shines more clearly in a darkened world, we see the power of goodness in Helaman’s 2060 stripling warriors. The image of these young men carrying the banner of freedom and faith with such unflinching goodness is one that shines right into our hearts today.


Hello our friends. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this is Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. Today the lesson is on Alma chapters 53-63 and called “Preserved by His Marvelous Power.” If you haven’t had a chance yet to purchase Scot’s e-book called “Eleven Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Book of Mormon,” this is the time! It is beautifully illustrated and will bring you ideas you didn’t know you didn’t know.

This book is based on a lecture that Scot has given for many years, and people have clamored to be able to get access to his notes, references and ideas. He has often asked at the end of his lecture, “Did you learn anything you didn’t know?” “About a hundred things is what most people answer.”  You can buy this book at That’s with the word eleven spelled out.

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We who live in the United States know something about a nation in crisis right now with terrible division, economic uncertainty and pandemic upon us. Such crisis and contention makes a nation weak and deconstructs right to the foundations. That’s why we could just weep as we read these chapters about the major peril that the Nephites are in, with the Lamanites having captured many of their key cities and such anger among them. What’s at stake is not only their nation, but their liberty and their religion. So much is riding on the line.

You remember that the people of Ammon, who were once called the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, lived in the land of Jershon among the Nephites. But in this war that was being waged against the Nephites, they couldn’t take up arms to defend the nation because of a solemn covenant they had made, an oath to God.


They had been the fiercest of Lamanite fighters, but when they were converted, they made an oath. Remember in Alma 24, they had said:

“Since it has been all that we could do (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—

 “Now…since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren.

“Let us ahide them away that they may be kept bright, as a testimony to our God at the last day…that we have not stained our swords in the blood of our brethren since he imparted his word unto us and has made us bclean” (Alma 24: 11,12,15).


This oath was so serious that they had even allowed their enemies to slay them without defending themselves. Yet now, seeing that those who had protected them, the Nephites, were in such terrible danger, they were tempted to break that oath and desired to take up arms “in the defense of their country.”

Yet just when they were about to break that oath, Helaman, who was the prophet, stepped forward persuading them that they were putting their very souls in danger if they did that. It was such a dilemma, but another very tender solution arose.

They had sons, strong, upright, faithful sons, “who had not entered into a covenant that they would not take their weapons of war to defend themselves against their enemies” (Alma 53:16), and 2,000 of them stepped forward with another 60 later being added to their rank. These we call the stripling warriors.


I think of these boys, who must have been very young, when their parents so solemnly buried their swords to be stained no more. I wonder if it was a ceremony around a fire with the light just playing off the very intent eyes of the children trying to absorb what their parents were doing.  These boys watched the intensity of the commitment their parents had made, how serious it was for their swords to never be stained again, and in their very sinews was forged testimony and courage and unbreakable bonds to God.

Their very soul was etched in the covenant and they knew it, so these boys, who may be been between the ages of fourteen and twenty, “entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites,…to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives;…even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage” (Alma 53:17).


“And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. (Alma 53:20)

Such affection connects Helaman and the stripling warriors that he calls them “my little sons” “for they were all of them very young.” This is what stripling means.

The timing could not have been more important when they entered the battle.


The Lamanites had taken many of the southern Nephite cities near their border including Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni and Antiparah. When Helaman and his stripling warriors arrived, the Nephite army had “suffered great afflictions of every kind” and were “depressed in body as well as in spirit, for they had fought valiantly by day and toiled by night to maintain their cities, thus they had suffered great afflictions of every kind” (Alma 56:16). Nevertheless, “they were determined to conquer in this place or die” (Alma 56:17).

Helaman says, so “you can suppose that this little force which I brought with me…gave them great hopes and much joy” (Alma 56:17).


Their very presence compelled the Lamanites not to come against the city of Judea, but the Nephites wanted to entice the Lamanites out into the open, and so they sent Helaman’s stripling warriors marching forth toward Antiparah where the strongest Lamanite army was stationed. This brought the Lamanite army out to follow the stripling warriors who did flee before them northward.

Little did the Lamanites know that the Nephite army of Antipus was coming behind them. Suddenly the Lamanite army was no longer following Helaman and his stripling warriors, but had halted. Helaman didn’t know why they had stopped or if they were only attempting to catch his little army in a snare.

A choice was before Helaman and his striplings. Should they return and take on this robust and vicious army? Helaman let the boys choose.


He said, “Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle. They answered Helaman, “Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone.”

Helaman wrote Moroni, “Never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.”

“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives” (Alma 56:45,47).


Elder David A. Bednar said, “The stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon …prayed earnestly that God would strengthen and deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. Interestingly, the answers to these prayers did not produce additional weapons or an increased number of troops. Instead, God granted these faithful warriors assurance that He would deliver them, peace to their souls, and great faith and hope for their deliverance in Him (see  Alma 58:11).

“Thus, the sons of Helaman did take courage, were fixed with a determination to conquer, and did go forth with all of their might against the Lamanites (see  Alma 58:12–13). Assurance, peace, faith, and hope initially might not seem like the blessings warriors in battle might want, but they were precisely the blessings these valiant young men needed to press forward and prevail physically and spiritually.


Elder Bednar continued, “Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience…

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.’” (David A. Bednar, “The Windows of Heaven” )

The stripling warriors won by faith, courage and God’s protection, and now one of my favorite lines in the Book of Mormon, “they had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” Helaman said, “they had rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: “We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56: 47, 48).


I know how much that line means to you, Maurine. You have always said you wanted it some day on your tombstone.


Oh yes, if I had one legacy to leave, along with that I love my children, it is that they know that I have a deep testimony of Jesus Christ and shared that with them. One of my love languages is bearing testimony


We don’t have details about how those mothers were able to teach faith and courage, but certainly a big part was that they believed so wholeheartedly in the covenants they had made as a people to lay down their weapons of war. Yet mothers also have the power in small, daily ways to convey faith to their children. They teach it. They live it. They bring it up around the dinner table. They share their own experiences. They pray for inspiration about how to raise their own stripling warriors. If ever there was a tribute to mothers it is in the lives of these stripling warriors.

Years ago, Maurine, do you remember when we traveled to Moscow to cover President Hinckley’s visit there to the Saints for Meridian. In our many interviews, we asked “Since you grew up in the Soviet Union, that is an atheist regime, how did you have any sense of God? What made you respond when the missionaries came to your door?” Over and over we heard the same answer, “Our grandmothers taught us about God. We learned it at the feet of our grandmothers.” Since their mothers had grown up in a state where religion was outlawed and churches boarded up, it was only their grandmothers who had kept the faith alive.


The power and confidence of these stripling warriors is captured in two verses.

In Alma 57:21:

“Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them.” Think of working with a group who would perform every command with exactness. What if your children did? What if we all did? What power there could be.

And this in Alma 58: 40:

“They stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.”


We have such untapped power we don’t use. What if instead of justifying why we have to go along to get along, we “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45). What if we lived our lives with “an eye single to the glory of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:19), think what a force for good we could be. Think what the rising generation can be, if they too will be exacting.

Two stories remind me of this kind of exacting goodness. President Thomas S. Monson told this story:

“During World War II, in the early part of 1944, an experience involving the priesthood took place as United States marines were taking Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands and located in the Pacific Ocean about midway between Australia and Hawaii. What took place in this regard was related by a correspondent—not a member of the Church—who worked for a newspaper in Hawaii.


“In the 1944 newspaper article he wrote following the experience, he explained that he and other correspondents were in the second wave behind the marines at Kwajalein Atoll. As they advanced, they noticed a young marine floating face down in the water, obviously badly wounded. The shallow water around him was red with his blood. And then they noticed another marine moving toward his wounded comrade.

“The second marine was also wounded, with his left arm hanging helplessly by his side. He lifted up the head of the one who was floating in the water in order to keep him from drowning. In a panicky voice he called for help. The correspondents looked again at the boy he was supporting and called back, ‘Son, there is nothing we can do for this boy.’


“’Then,’ wrote the correspondent, ‘I saw something that I had never seen before.’ This boy, badly wounded himself, made his way to the shore with the seemingly lifeless body of his fellow marine. He ‘put the head of his companion on his knee. … What a picture that was—these two mortally wounded boys—both … clean, wonderful-looking young men, even in their distressing situation. And the one boy bowed his head over the other and said, “I command you, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the priesthood, to remain alive until I can get medical help.” The correspondent concluded his article: ‘The three of us [the two marines and I] are here in the hospital. The doctors don’t know [how they made it alive], but I know.’(Thomas S. Monson, “Willing and Worthy to Serve”, ).

These were modern stripling warriors, who, even faced with death and desperation, maintained their courage and confidence in God.


Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said, “What marvelous things happen when men [and women] walk with faith in obedience to that which is required of them!”with no arguing, no excusing, no equivocating.

He said, “Nearly forty years ago I was on a mission in England. I had been called to labor in the European Mission office in London under President Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve, then president of the European Mission. One day three or four of the London papers carried reviews of a reprint of an old book, snide and ugly in tone, indicating that the book was a history of the Mormons. President Merrill said to me, ‘I want you to go down to the publisher and protest this.’ I looked at him and was about to say, ‘Surely not me. But I meekly said, ‘Yes, sir.’”


Elder Hinckley continued, “I do not hesitate to say that I was frightened. I went to my room and felt something as I think Moses must have felt when the Lord asked him to go and see Pharaoh. I offered a prayer. My stomach was churning as I walked over to the Goodge Street station to get the underground train to Fleet Street. I found the office of the president and presented my card to the receptionist. She took it and went into the inner office and soon returned to say that Mr. Skeffington was too busy to see me. I replied that I had come five thousand miles and that I would wait. During the next hour she made two or three trips to his office, then finally invited me in. I shall never forget the picture when I entered. He was smoking a long cigar with a look that seemed to say, ‘Don’t bother me.’

“I held in my hand the reviews. I do not know what I said after that. Another power seemed to be speaking through me. At first he was defensive and even belligerent. Then he began to soften. He concluded by promising to do something. Within an hour word went out to every book dealer in England to return the books to the publisher. At great expense he printed and tipped in the front of each volume a statement to the effect that the book was not to be considered as history, but only as fiction, and that no offense was intended against the respected Mormon people.”  (Gordon B. Hinckley, “If Ye Be Willing and Obedient”


We want to be like the prophet Samuel who when he heard the voice of the Lord said, “Speak, for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:10). We want to be like the stripling warriors who were exacting in our obedience and therefore confident before the Lord. That will matter just as much in our every day life as it did for them on the battlefield.

Said Scottish poet and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson: “Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.”2 [Robert Louis Stevenson, in Hal Urban, Choices That Change Lives (2006), 122.]


Courage comes in many forms. Wrote the Christian author Charles Swindoll: “Courage is not limited to the battlefield … or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are inner tests, like remaining faithful when no one’s looking, … like standing alone when you’re misunderstood.”3 [Charles Swindoll, in Urban, Choices That Change Lives, 122.]


In these fierce battles, where men died in the worst kind of combat, not one of the stripling warriors was killed, but it is also important to note that all were wounded, even to the fainting for loss of blood. Why does that matter? Because in this war we are all bombarded with in mortality, we will all be wounded, too. Battles are by nature wounding experiences, and this is where the war in heaven is currently being fought.

We will be wounded by our own choices and short-sidedness. We will be wounded by others, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, but we will all need the healing balm of the Savior. We need the Savior’s atonement and grace every day, even if we and our children try to be like Helaman’s stripling sons.


The Nephite’s position was perilous. They had run out of supplies and food. They were receiving no reinforcements from the government. The Nephite army was dwindling in strength. Thousands were dying unnecessarily. Saddened, tired, and bewildered, Moroni writes a heated letter to Pahoran who is the head of the government. In it, he doesn’t mince any words. The moment calls for directness, and he delivers.

He condemns Pahoran saying that “Helaman and his men, have suffered exceedingly great sufferings; yea, even hunger, thirst, and fatigue”. Great slaughter had come to the Nephites and many had fallen who might have been spared “if ye had rendered unto our armies sufficient strength and succor for them. Yea, great has been your neglect towards us.”


It is certainly the peril of the people that compels Moroni to write, but he personally denounces Pahoran. “Can you think to sit upon your thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor while your enemies are spreading the work of death” (Alma 60: 3,4). Moroni said essentially, we have trusted you to provide for us while we are in harm’s way. We “have looked up to you for protection”, and you might “have saved thousands..from falling by the sword.” “Many have fought and bled out their lives because of their great desires…for the welfare of this people…because of your exceedingly great neglect towards them” (Alma 60: 3-6).

He is accusing Pahoran not only of neglect, but that he is responsible for the death of the thousands who have fallen. He accuses him of sitting uncaring on his throne and not sending help because of slothfulness and even wickedness. Moroni accuses Pahoran of forgetting the commandments of God.

He writes: “Yea, will ye sit in idleness while ye are surrounded with thousands of those…and tens of thousands, who do also sit in idleness, while there are thousands round about in the borders of the land who are falling by the sword, yea, wounded and bleeding” (Alma 60:22).


Moroni acknowledges the sad state of affairs among the Nephites that brought this on. Remember God will protect the Nephites when they are attacked because of the covenant promises. But when they turn from those, that divine protection is completely withdrawn.

They would not be in this hazard if the kingmen had not caused contention and there had not been so much fighting among themselves. Moroni says, “If we had united our strength as we hitherto have done; yea, had it not been for the desire of power and authority which those king-men had over us; had they been true to the cause of our freedom, and united with us, and gone forth against our enemies, instead of taking up their swords against us…if we had gone forth against them in the strength of the Lord, we should have dispersed our enemies, for it would have been done, according to the fulfilling of his word” (Alma 60: 16).

Moroni tells Pahoran, “The sword of justice doth hang over you; yea, and it shall fall upon you and visit you even to your utter destruction.”


How Pahoran responds to this letter is a magnificent, almost breathtaking example of forgiveness and not taking offense. He and his actions have been deeply misunderstood.  He has been unfairly accused. What has occurred is not that he has been sitting back on his throne in negligence, but the kingmen, Nephites in rebellion, have gotten possession of Zarahemla. They have put a king over the Nephites who is seeking an alliance with the Lamanites to conquer the remainder of the land.

The situation is even more dire than Moroni could have imagined.

Here is the portrait of a great man. Pahoran writes Moroni, “Now in your epistle you censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your soul” (Alma 61:9). The Christlike example of turning the other cheek, of refusing to take offense when offense was given.

Rather than condemning Moroni even a little bit or responding with justified injury, Pahoran praises the greatness of his soul.

He writes, “My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free” (Alma 61:9)


Moroni and Pahoran are able to rally the people to flock to the cause of liberty, renew their commitment to God and ultimately overcome the Lamanites and the kingmen, the external and internal threat which had the Nephites on the brink of destruction.

What if instead, Pahoran had been a less great soul? What if he had taken offense, nursed his injury, and had become an enemy to Moroni? Undoubtedly the Nephites could not have taken this additional fissure, and they would have fallen.

I think we underestimate how destructive it is to take offense in our families, in our relationship to the Church, to God, and in the nation. God has a reason for saying, “If ye are not one, ye are not mine” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27).


In contrast, Satan seeks to divide us. He is called diablo, the divider. He enjoys pitting people against each other, nurturing distrust, stirring up anger, fomenting injury. Contention has Satan’s signature upon it.

Brigham Young said, “He who takes offense when offense was not intended is a fool, yet he who takes offense when offense is intended is an even greater fool for he has succumbed to the will of his adversary.”

That means that part of spiritual maturity means learning not to take offense, because when you feel offended, you have given your power away to another person, cause, or event. No one has the power to diminish or dismiss you or make you feel inferior without your consent. When you are offended, you have participated.

Certainly, unkind, insulting, clumsy, neglectful things happen to all of us, but it is our choice whether to take offense. Sometimes we are vulnerable to taking offense because it plays on our own insecurity. We become angry because we feel that our worth or sense of self is threatened. We carry hurt when we could have dismissed it.


When Elder David A. Bednar was a stake president, he and the bishop would choose individuals or families to visit together and, he said,

“Our visits were quite straightforward. We expressed love and appreciation for the opportunity to be in their home. We affirmed that we were servants of the Lord on His errand to their home. We indicated that we missed and needed them—and that they needed the blessings of the restored gospel. And at some point early in our conversation I often would ask a question like this: “Will you please help us understand why you are not actively participating in the blessings and programs of the Church?”

“I made hundreds and hundreds of such visits. Each individual, each family, each home, and each answer was different. Over the years, however, I detected a common theme in many of the answers to my questions.


“Frequently responses like these were given: ‘Several years ago a man said something in Sunday School that offended me, and I have not been back since.’

“‘No one in this branch greeted or reached out to me. I felt like an outsider. I was hurt by the unfriendliness of this branch.’

“’I did not agree with the counsel the bishop gave me. I will not step foot in that building again as long as he is serving in that position.’

“Many other causes of offense were cited—from doctrinal differences among adults to taunting, teasing, and excluding by youth. But the recurring theme was: ‘I was offended by …’


Elder Bednar continued, “The bishop and I would listen intently and sincerely. One of us might next ask about their conversion to and testimony of the restored gospel. As we talked, eyes often were moist with tears as these good people recalled the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost and described their prior spiritual experiences. Most of the ‘less-active’ people I have ever visited had a discernible and tender testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. However, they were not presently participating in Church activities and meetings.

“And then I would say something like this. ‘Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children’s children, and the generations that will follow.’ Many times people would think for a moment and then respond: ‘I have never thought about it that way.’’ (David A. Bednar, “And Nothing Shall Offend Them”


A friend said, “I was offended by my bishop at church and I haven’t been to the temple for 12 years. I guess that showed him.”

Another issue, in fact, a shared calamity that we are all facing, is the divisiveness, anger and contention that has come to mark our nation. Not since the Civil War have people been more polarized. Pollster Gary Lawrence said that where it used to be that in political polls, people’s responses would line up into a bell-shaped curve, now it is a U with a flat middle. Citizens are lining up at polar extremes from each other on important issues with very little in the middle.

What’s worse is that in our society we are taught to take offense. We are taught to look for what might offend us. We are taught to be triggered by small things. We teach fragility and injury instead of resilience. We can’t have a discussion with someone who has a different point of view without somehow feeling offended. The smallest things offend us. We are actually taught to believe that we are more awake and aware if we are more offended at others.


Unfortunately, in our new world the offended have power. Our society teaches us the offended can dictate policy at a university where free speech is suddenly shackled only to free speech zones. The offended can have pictures and statues removed. The offended cannot bear to hear another point of view. The offended will cancel anyone who doesn’t agree with them—or doesn’t agree enough. The offended have had prayer canceled at civic meetings. The offended have made discussion of religion at work off limits.

The offended have even been coached by one major newspaper to marginalize relatives who cannot jump on their own political cause. The offended like to label those who don’t believe as they do hateful and dangerous. The world becomes divided into those who believe like me and everybody else whom I, by definition, hate and disdain.


One of the fallacies of this angry world we live in is that you are your idea, your philosophy or your politics, and if I disagree with those, I must dislike you. It is almost a requirement. If you want to measure that, just try saying something your friends might dislike on Facebook. They’ll respond to you with anger. They’ll unfriend you.

Unfriend and cancel. What ugly words we’ve added to our idea of human relationships.

Why would one ever seek to be the unoffended when the offended have such power?


Because, of course, God told us to. He told us to offer kindness and long-suffering towards others as He does. Because a society stirred up in anger against itself cannot stand. Because it is so unpleasant to live with judgment and coercion. Because we suffocate in this environment. Because division only leads to dissolution.

We can disagree with each other with love, with calm, with an ear to listen. We can be slow to take offense.

Blessed are the Pahorans of the world. His forbearance and ability to forgive Moroni helped to save his nation and that kind of forbearance may help to save ours.


That’s it for today. This has been Scot and Maurine Proctor for Meridian Magazine’s  Come Follow Me podcast. Next week we’ll talk about Helaman 1-6, “The Rock of Our Redeemer”. Our thanks to Paul Cardall for the music that begins and ends this podcast and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins who is the producer of the show. Thanks for being with us, and we’ll see you next week.