Helaman 11:4 rather let there be a famine in the land
Nephi requests that the Lord send a famine instead of their usual punishment. It seems like a good idea. The Nephites had likely gotten used to warfare as it was so commonplace among them. The famine had a greater effect in bringing the people to a repentant and humble state. This may be because the Nephites had never before experienced a famine. When Lehi's family arrived, they described a land which was rich and fertile so that their crops 'did grow exceedingly' (1 Ne 18:24). Ever since their arrival in the New World, the land had been consistently productive.
"Famine is one of heaven's most eloquent sermons. When virtually all else has failed to get the attention of the rebellious and turn them to God, famines have succeeded. Famines can strip men of every sense of self-sufficiency and turn their eyes and ears to the voice of heaven. (See Isaiah 51:19; Jeremiah 14:13-18; Amos 4:6.) In this story it seems that Nephi felt that the people simply did not see the connection between devastating war and their sinful ways." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 390)
Helaman 11:6 they did perish by thousands in the more wicked parts of the land
Remarkably, the Lord is able to be selective with his punishments. Wars, famines, and plagues affect the lives of everyone in society, but the wicked are the first to go. In the days of Amaron, the record states:
'...the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed.
For the Lord would not suffer, after he had led them out of the land of Jerusalem and kept and preserved them from falling into the hands of their enemies, yea, he would not suffer that the words should not be verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall not prosper in the land.
Wherefore, the Lord did visit them in great judgment; nevertheless, he did spare the righteous that they should not perish, but did deliver them out of the hands of their enemies.' (Omni 1:5-7)
The same process of selective destruction will attend the Second Coming. All will be affected by the great destructions that have been prophesied, but the destroying angels specifically target the wicked. The other way in which the destruction is selective is that the righteous are gathered out from the wicked, hence the charge, 'Go ye out from Babylon' (DC 133:5). Similarly, the Lord has warned, 'I will not spare any that remain in Babylon' (DC 64:24).
"the destroying angel will...exercise his tremendous mission upon the children of disobedience; and destroy the workers of iniquity, while the Saints will be gathered out from among them, and stand in holy places ready to meet the Bridegroom when he comes." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 92)
Helaman 11:18 having great power and authority given unto him from God
George Q. Cannon
"But Lehi was scarcely a whit behind him in the power of God that he attained unto and the blessings that were bestowed upon him.
"So it is with us. If we will live for these blessings, there is no limit to them. The only limit is our faith. If we have no faith; if we do not qualify ourselves; if we do not live near unto the Lord and seek unto Him for power and for gifts and graces, He will not bestow these blessings upon us. Every one of you brethren who bear the Holy Priesthood should be in such close communication with the Lord that you will know for yourselves all things pertaining to your duties; that you will not need to be taught, or, if you are taught, that you will understand in a moment what is required of you." (Collected Discourses, Vol.1, March 3rd, 1889)
Helaman 11:22 contentions concerning the points of doctrine
'And this I do that...there may not be so much contention; yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them.' (DC 10:63)
Dallin H. Oaks
"It is noteworthy that the Savior did not limit his teaching about disputations and contention to those who had wrong ideas about doctrine or procedure. He forbade disputations and contention by everyone. The commandment to avoid contention applies to those who are right as well as to those who are wrong." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 4 Nephi - Moroni, p. 177)
Joseph F. Smith
"You find the spirit of contention only among apostates and those who have denied the faith, those who have turned away from the truth and have become enemies to God and his work. There you will find the spirit of contention, the spirit of strife. There you will find them wanting to 'argue the question,' and to dispute with you all the time. Their food, their meat, and their drink is contention which is abominable in the sight of the Lord. We do not contend. We are not contentious, for if we were we would grieve the Spirit of the Lord from us, just as apostates do and have always done." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 4 Nephi - Moroni, p. 177)
Helaman 11:23 having many revelations daily
"There is a definite relationship between knowing the 'true points of doctrine' and 'having many revelations daily'. Knowledge alone is not a barometer of righteousness, but certain knowledge, when learned and lived, points one toward that redemption which is in Christ and the abundant life that is available to the true disciple. In addition, those who know the doctrines of salvation teach the doctrines of salvation. There is strength in their testimony and power in their words. 'Those who preach by the power of the Holy Ghost,' Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written, 'use the scriptures as their basic source of knowledge and doctrine. They begin with what the Lord has before revealed to other inspired men. But it is the practice of the Lord to give added knowledge to those upon whose hearts the true meanings and intents of the scriptures have been impressed. Many great doctrinal revelations come to those who preach from the scriptures. When they are in tune with the Infinite, the Lord lets them know, first, the full and complete meaning of the scriptures they are expounding, and then he ofttimes expands their views so that new truths flood in upon them, and they learn added things that those who do not follow such a course can never know.' (Promised Messiah, pp. 515-16.)" (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 391)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The living God can give much operational revelation to the living Church just as he is doing in the true and living Church today. We read of how, during a strife-filled period of time around 12 B.C., leaders and some of their brethren 'who knew concerning the true points of doctrine' were 'having many revelations daily, therefore they did preach unto the people, insomuch that they did put an end to their strife in that same year.' (Helaman 11:23. Italics added.) The quantity of revelations was obviously very great, though we do not at this point know much concerning their content, and they were sufficient unto the needs of their day.
"Doctrinal revelation is more occasional, since the great foundation of the doctrine has been laid in the early days of this dispensation and before." (Things As They Really Are, p. 63)