Mosiah 23:2 the Lord did strengthen them, that the people of king Noah could not overtake them
One might imagine that a group of 450 people, young and old, women and children, flocks and possessions, would not be able to travel very fast. A trained army should be able to overtake them within a relatively short time. This did not occur because of the protection and strength that they received from the Lord. Otherwise, they would have most certainly been captured by Noah's army.
Mosiah 23:7 it is not expedient that we should have a king
All the righteous Nephite leaders understood that there was great danger in establishing a monarchial form of government. Alma's people should have known this better than anybody because of their experience with king Noah. Yet, we see this pattern repeat itself throughout the Book of Mormon. The first instance is when the Jaredites set up king. At this time, the brother of Jared warned, Surely this thing leadeth into captivity (Ether 6:23). Note some of the passages which followed:
a) Corihor rebelled against his father
b) Shule was angry with his brother...and gave battle unto his brother Corihor
c) Noah rebelled against Shule...and gave battle unto Shule
d) The sons of Shule crept into the house of Noah by night and slew him
e) Jared rebelled against his father...and gave battle unto his father
f) Esrom and Coriantumr...were exceedingly angry because of the doings of Jared their brother...And...they did give battle unto him by night (See Ether 7-8).
This great history of conflict among the Jaredites culminated in the destruction of the entire nation.
Nephi was faced with a people who looked up to them as their leader, And it came to pass that they would that I should be their king. But I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no king; nevertheless, I did for them according to that which was in my power (2 Ne 5:18). In the Old Testament, we read that when the Israelites asked the prophet Samuel for a king so that they could be like all the other nations in the land, the Lord replied, Hearken unto the voice of the people...for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them (1 Sam 8:7). The Israelites would have benefited most if they had the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev 19:16) as their king. Therefore, Alma counsels the people to set up a government based on the principle that one man shall not think himself above another, but the Lord God is their king, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words (2 Ne 10:14).
"In all ages when the people of God listened to the voice and counsel of apostles and prophets, they enjoyed the blessings growing out of human freedom, and the tyranny and oppression of kings and rulers was impossible. There never was a kingly power placed over ancient Israel except against the remonstrance of the prophets." (Journal of Discourses, vol 23, Feb. 26, 1882, p. 233)
Mosiah 23:8 if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings it would be well for you
The next best thing to having Jehovah as king is to have righteous men as kings. Later, Mosiah gives the example of righteous king Benjamin, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people-I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you (Mosiah 29:13), but he warns against wicked kings, saying, For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction! (Mosiah 29:17).
Mosiah 23:10 has made me an instrument in his hands
The humble servant understands his relationship with the Lord. All miracles occur by the power of God with his servants acting as instruments. The servant is the hammer, but the Lord drives the nail. Isaiah rebuked the pride of the king of Assyria by asking, Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? (Isa 10:15). After Ammon's success as a missionary among the Lamanites, he began to rejoice in the fruit of his labors. His brother, Aaron said, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting. But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength...I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever (Alma 26:10-13).
Mosiah 23:16 Alma was...the founder of their church
"In the part of the Book of Mormon where we first read that Alma was the 'founder of their church,' the pronoun their refers only to the people who were with Alma in the wilderness; it does not refer to the entire Nephite nation." (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.189)
Mosiah 23:19 they called the land Helam
Helam was apparently a leader in the community. He was respected enough that the people named the land after him. He was also the first among them to be baptized, being baptized by Alma (Mosiah 18:14).
Mosiah 23:21 the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith
The typical response to affliction is to assume that it occurs as a punishment from God. Such is the logic of the question asked of the Savior, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? (Jn 9:2). Yet, this view of the world is very near-sighted. Can it be fairly stated that every time life doesn't go as we expect, that the Lord is punishing us? The scriptures teach otherwise. There are times when the wicked are not punished immediately, how long shall the wicked triumph? (Ps 94:3), and there are times when the righteous suffer affliction without warranting it. The Lord will try and chasten his people even when they are righteous, For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth (Heb12:6). This is the case with Alma's people. They had been faithful to their new leader, they had made a covenant by being baptized, and yet they are about to be put into bondage.
Neal A. Maxwell
"Faith ... includes faith in God's developmental purposes, for 'the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.' (Mosiah 23:21.) Still, some of us have trouble when God's tutoring is applied to us! We plead for exemption more than we do for sanctification." (Ensign, May 1991, p. 90.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The following wintry verse instructs and reminds us of one of the most central and regular challenges for the men and women of Christ:
'Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith' (Mosiah 23:21).
"Such declarations of divine purpose ought to keep us on spiritual alert as to life's purposeful adversities, especially as we seek to become more saintly. Disciples will escape neither adversity nor the irony forming the hard crust on the bread of adversity.
"Irony tries both our faith and our patience. Irony can be a particularly bitter form of chastening because it involves disturbing incongruity; it involves outcomes in violation of our expectations, including what we feel we 'deserved.' Sometimes it lays waste our good-intentioned and best-laid plans.
"On occasion we even set up our own ironies by being too declarative and too certain. Such was the case with Peter, who said he would never deny Jesus. Peter was quickly reminded by the Savior that soon, before the rooster crowed, Peter would deny Him three times. (See Matthew 26:31-35.) In like manner today our rigidities and deficiencies sometimes may actually invite tutoring...
"With its inverting of the anticipated consequences, irony becomes the frequent cause of an individual's being offended. The larger and the more untamed a person's ego, the greater the likelihood of his being offended, especially when tasting his portion of vinegar and gall. Words may issue: 'Why me?' 'Why this?' 'Why now?' It is hoped such words will give way to subsequent spiritual composure; but when such words precede bitter inconsolability, then it is a surprisingly short distance to bitterness. Amid life's varied ironies we may begin to wonder: 'Didn't God notice this torturous turn of events? And if He noticed, why did He permit it? Am I not valued? Didn't I deserve better?' Our planning usually assumes that our destiny is largely in our own hands. Then come intruding events, first elbowing aside, then evicting, what we had anticipated and even earned. Hence we can be offended by events as well as by people.
"Irony may involve not only unexpected suffering but also undeserved suffering. We feel we deserved better, and yet we fared worse. We had other plans-even commendable plans; did they not count? For example, a physician who trained laboriously to help the sick cannot do so now because of his own illness. For a period, because of constraining circumstances, a diligent prophet of the Lord was an 'idle witness' (Mormon 3:16). Frustrating conditions keep more than a few of us from making our appointed rounds. Customized challenges are thus added to that affliction and temptation that Paul described as 'common to man' (1 Corinthians 10:13)." (Men and Women of Christ, pp. 61-3)
Howard W. Hunter
"Mormon surely knew that no pain we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God." (Ensign, Nov. 1987, p. 60 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 316)
Mosiah 23:27 Alma went forth...and exhorted them that they should not be frightened
Alma's people were terrified by the Lamanites, but Alma knew that perfect love casteth out all fear (Moroni 8:16). He knew that whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day (v. 22). These weren't idle words, but codes to live by. Accordingly, Alma faced the Lamanites without fear, and negotiated an arrangement by which his people would be free (v. 36). The Lamanites, of course, broke their promise and oppressed Alma's people (v. 37).
Mosiah 23:32 the leader of those priests was Amulon
Amulon and his fellow priests had kidnapped then married Lamanite women. Their collective descendants became known as the Amulonites. They did join the Lamanites (v. 35) and become one of the most wicked groups in the history of the Book of Mormon. George Reynolds condenses their history:
"They were Nephites on their father's side and Lamanites on their mother's but by association and education were of the latter race. Many of them, however, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers and took upon them the name of Nephites and were considered among that people ever after. Of those who remained Amulonites many became followers of Nehor and were scattered in the lands of Amulon, Helam and Jerusalem all of which appear to have been limited districts in the same region of country. In the later years the sons of Mosiah and their fellow-missionaries preached to them but not one repented and received the gospel message; on the contrary, they became leaders in the persecutions carried on against the suffering people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi and were those who, with the Amalekites, slew the greater number of that unoffending people who suffered martyrdom. In the succeeding war with the Nephites (B.C. 81), when Ammonihah was destroyed, nearly all the Amulonites were killed in the battle in which Zoram, the Nephite general, defeated the Lamanites. The remainder of the Amulonites fled into the east wilderness where they usurped power over the people of Laman and in their bitter hatred to the truth caused many of the latter to be burned to death because of their belief in the gospel. These outrages aroused the Lamanites and they in turn began to hunt the Amulonites and to put them to death. This was in fulfillment of the words of Abinadi, who, as he suffered martyrdom by fire at the hands of Amulon and his associates, told them, 'What ye shall do unto me, shall be a type of things to come' by which he meant that many should suffer death by fire as he had suffered." (A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon, pp. 59-60)