Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
Cover image: “King Benjamin’s Address” by Jeremy Conrad Winborg.
I write this, not only to elaborate on one of the most important discourses ever given on the planet,second only to the Sermon at the temple/mount, but to add my voice to a growing discovery that ancient prophets and even the Lord used the poetry of chiasmus as a form of self-contained author-intended commentary and insight. Chiasmus has been miraculously recognized in short poetic forms for decades but suggestions that whole chapters or even book-long chiasms have been questioned or rejected as unverifiable, since, as one scholar pointed out that one can make a chiasm out of the phone book listings.
But what if “concepts” rather than phrases made-up the matching elements of the chiasm? This would properly make the commentary from a proposed chiasmus subject to careful scrutiny, pondering, needed verification from other cross-references, and finally the Spirit. But then, this is what we are supposed to do in pondering all scripture as we daily feast in search of constant trans-veil nourishment. In this time of extreme parental need, pondering this chiasmatic discourse begins with FAMILY.
The first chapter of Mosiah begins with “no contention” and then deals with the King’s family concerns as does the last chapter, Mosiah 6:5-7 ending with “no contention.”
It is noteworthy to see, in the end element of the chiasm, that “Mosiah did walk in the ways of the Lord” and “keep his commandments in all things” correlate with the lengthier passages at the beginning concerning how Mosiah was taught by diligent parents using the scriptures, making a strong case that without them, it wouldn’t be possible.
King is Proposed – King is Coronated:
The next section relates King Benjamin proposing His son as the new king in 1:9-10 which simply correlates with Mosiah being coronated and reigning faithfully. This parent gave his children reputations to live up to and then as noted, used the celestial tools to help them arrive. But, then, the following verses raise questions which are answered by the chiasm.
New Name – Christ:
Why would a king give a name to his people? He says that it is to distinguish them. What could that mean…it almost sounds pridefully nationalistic! But no, the chiasm answers the question. The desire of this righteous king was to invite his people into the divine covenant-life of the “strait path” and “narrow way” of He who is “the way,” over one hundred years before His coming. The first birth with a “family name” and reputation with good parental mentors is strong motivation for children, but the second birth where Christ becomes the family name with all the attached covenant promises, transports them into their own relationship with Him. Church research has shown the child’s personal relationship with God to be the most important determining factor in helping children become successful with life and eternity.
This article could become voluminous were I to juxtapose and comment on each correlated section. Therefore, if you will indulge me, I will post the chiasm below with a few remarks, where appropriate, and leave more discoveries for those who wish to pursue revelation that results from pondering in this way.
Service: The chiasm narrows the oft memorized “When you are in the service of your fellow being…” scripture into a more day to day reality of both the priorities present in, and the eternal implications of, ministering. As is often the case when we receive an assignment, it becomes our misplaced priority and daily focus. The chiastic correlation corrects those priorities:
- Our mental state towards others
- Teaching our children
- How to view and respond to people seeking our resources
- The sacred interdependent connection between the first and second great commandments
- The need for order and priorities to our ministering.
- Neighbors and borrowing
- Our daily watchful care against sin (selfishness).
Unprofitable Servant – Own Nothingness:
The king’s initial explanation of “unprofitable servant” is revelatory and explains the puzzling Biblical use of the phrase.But the correlating verses from the Chiasm are even more poignant. For example:
4:5 For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—
The words “unprofitable,” “nothingness,” “worthless” have such negative connotations in light of the knowledge that we are all God’s precious children. But, here King Benjamin makes it clear that it is our fallen state that is worthless and keeps us from ever reaching profitability in our service. This whole section continues to positively lift us from that fallen state through the Atonement of Christ!
- Believe in God
- Gain a correct knowledge of His attributes
- Always remember your relationship with Him
- Humble yourself
- Taste of His love
- Receive remission
- Stay humble through remembering
- Humbly call in God Daily in prayer
- Hope for a better future
- Retain a remission of sins (by service 4:26)
- Keep learning truth
Wages and the real Enemy:
To “list” is to lean, like a sail boat listing in the wind. The listing creates the direction, hence leaning towards evil results in to refusing to repent. This comes from the “natural man” who is “an enemy to God.” The wage or ultimate reward for one listing, just leaning towards evil and its author, is the same endless miseryhe endures. Compared to the wage of never-ending happiness received by the obedient!!!
Because the Chiasmus builds towards the most important concept, it isn’t surprising to find Christ and His atonement in the center, as each preceding correlating step prepared us to “know how to come to Him to be saved.”  The center concept in this section (verses 5-18) is:
Though in your pondering, you may organize and correlate this discourse differently than I have, it seems to me that it is structured to begin and end with family including parenting instructions on how to bring them step-by-step towards a personal relationship and full grace of the Atonement of Christ.
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.703
This verse is the center of the chiastic structure of section twenty-nine: DC 29:30 …”the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power…”
https://chiasmusresources.organd https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/how-does-chiasmus-teach-us-to-reverse-the-pride-cycleand https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/nephis-outline
Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
1 Nephi 15:14 …they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.