Alma 58

Alma 58:2 we durst not go forth and attack them in their strongholds

"We can use strategies from the Nephite war stories to help us endure to the end and to overcome temptation. Helaman wrote, 'And they were so much more numerous than was our army that we durst not go forth and attack them in their strongholds' (Alma 58:2). From this we learn that we must avoid Satan's strongholds and consistently seek to stand in holy places. Corianton could have avoided his encounter with the harlot Isabel had he stayed away from the land of Siron (Alma 39:3-4). Virtually every city has a land of Siron where circumstances, environment, and designing persons can influence us to sin." (Doctrines of the Book of Mormon: 1991 Sperry Symposium on the Book of Mormon, p. 64)

Alma 58:3 it became expedient that we should wait

Hugh Nibley

"So now they settle down to a long wait. They say the war should be over by now. What's wrong? Now this long and painful wait starts, and it's the biggest trial of all. They waited for provisions from Zarahemla, but they were just a little trickle. They weren't getting any at all. The Lamanites were receiving great strength from day to day on their part. This is beginning to look bad. What about ending this war? The Lamanites began sallying forth against them, taking courage and giving them a bad time. They waited and waited many months. They were just stuck in this particular place for many months. Remember what Clausewtiz said? The longer a war drags on, the greater the losses and the greater the uncertainty of what's going to happen. It's a terrible thing, and wars have that habit of dragging on whether you like them to or not. This inaction became terrible." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, p. 178.)

Alma 58:10-12 we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us

Gene R. Cook

"I bear testimony that the Lord stands ready to answer our prayers and to grant our righteous requests. There is a great example of this in the book of Alma...Early one morning as our family was reading the account of the wars in Alma, one of my children said, 'Dad, I'm not getting much out of these chapters about the wars. I wish we were back reading some of those other things.' I answered, 'Well, these things are all in here for a good reason, Son. I'm sure there are some hidden treasures in here we just haven't found.'

"That very morning we found a wonderful description of how the Lord responds to our prayers. In Alma 58 we read how the Lamanites and Nephites were in the midst of a battle...'Therefore,' the Nephites said, 'we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us.' (Alma 58:10.) What a beautiful description of what we often ask for-to be strengthened or to be delivered from a problem.

"Then we get another clue about prayer. The Nephites didn't just pray, but they prayed fervently: 'We did pour out our souls in prayer.' That's how we get answers-to pray with great intensity.

"Now note in this next verse how quietly the answers came. The Lord did indeed answer them, but they might have missed the answer if they weren't being spiritually attentive.

'Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.' (Alma 58:11; italics added.)

"It may be that the Nephites hoped for a miracle. Maybe they wanted angels to come to deliver them, as had happened a time or two in the Old Testament. But what did they receive? The Lord gave them assurance, peace, faith, and hope. He didn't directly destroy their enemies, but he did give them the gifts they needed so they could deliver themselves.

"The next verse shows the effect of the Lord's answer on the people: We did take courage with our small force which we had received [and you may feel that your force or power to accomplish your desires is awfully small], and were fixed with a determination to conquer. (Alma 58:12.)

"In other words, the Lord put inside these men the will and the power to do what they desired-to begin with a strong resolve and then to see it through. After their prayer was answered, the Nephites went on to secure their liberty.

"When the Lord instills hope and faith and peace and assurance in people, they can bring great things to pass. This, then, is often what we should look for when we ask for help-not a miracle to solve our problem for us, but a miracle inside, to help us come to the solution ourselves, with the Lord's help and the Lord's power." (Receiving Answers to Our Prayers, pp. 155 - 157.)

Gene R. Cook

"Verse 11 probably provides one of the best descriptions of how the Lord responds to us, again through thoughts or feelings. He seems to do these four things:

  1. He visits us with assurances that he will deliver us.
  2. He speaks peace to our souls.
  3. He grants us great faith.
  4. He causes us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.

"What a tremendous way the Lord has of blessing us! He doesn't just solve our problems but he gives us assurance, peace, faith, and hope so that we will move forward to resolve our own problems under the direction of the Lord. Thus he makes us strong.

"He helps us grow, and if we pursue the process over the years, we will ultimately become as God is. The effects of the influence of the Spirit are described well in verse 12. After we have been filled with assurance, peace, faith, and hope, we are then willing to take courage and have a fixed determination to conquer our enemies, our problems, our sins. Where does that courage and determination come from? From the Spirit of the Lord. The Lord actually provides additional power and strength because we have humbled ourselves and sought God.

"Every time I read those verses or teach them to others, I think about where I learned them-during family scripture reading.

"Two or three years after that experience, one of my sons was having a difficult time understanding an answer to prayer and was asking me about it. I opened up Alma 58, read those verses to him, and explained them. It was like a light turned on in his mind. He was so excited about these verses because they perfectly described his feelings and told him more clearly how the Lord answered prayers." (Raising Up a Family to the Lord, p. 127-8.)

Alma 58:35 we do not desire to murmur

"Helaman...almost as an apology for being negative he writes, 'we do not desire to murmur' (Alma 58:35). Elder Neal A. Maxwell has said, 'If our lips are closed to murmuring, then our eyes will be open.' Notice how Helaman has shared an unpleasant truth in a fashion that will still allow the lines of communication to remain open. His sensitivity to his leaders, as well as his subordinates, is commendable. President Harold B. Lee counseled, 'The men under you will never be loyal to you if they see that you are disloyal to those who preside over you.' Helaman's letter validates this principle. His was not the expression of a weak-kneed foot soldier trying not to be responsible for the bad news he had born. He is once again illustrating his total allegiance to his leaders; recognizing full well that he cannot expect God to stand by him if he doesn't stand by his leaders." (K. Douglas Bassett, Alma, the Testimony of the Word, edited by  Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., p. 301)

Dallin H. Oaks

"The primary reason we are commanded to avoid criticism is to preserve our own spiritual well-being, not to protect the person whom we would criticize...Does this counsel to avoid faultfinding and personal criticism apply only to statements that are false? Doesn't it also apply to statements that are true? The fact that something is true is not always a justification for communicating it...For example, it is wrong to make statements of fact out of an evil motive, even if the statements are true. One who focuses on faults, thought they be true, tears down a brother or a sister...One who focuses on faults, though they be true, fosters dissensions and divisions among fellow Church members in the body of Christ." (Ensign, Feb. 1987, pp. 68-9 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 524)

Alma 58:40 they stand fast...and they are strict to remember the Lord

Howard W. Hunter

"Today another battle of far more serious consequence is being waged. It is a battle being fought for the souls of men. Its outcome likewise depends on the steadiness of the soldiery. The clarion call of the chieftain is heard above the fierce artillery of the archenemy, 'Stand firm! Be true!'

"I am grateful that most Latter-day Saints today are standing firm and remaining true to the kingdom of God. Like Helaman's stripling warriors, '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.' (Alma 58:40.) I am referring to those members of the Church who live their Christian beliefs in the quiet commonplace of their daily lives.

"On November 1, 1831, at a conference of the Church in Hiram, Ohio, the Lord revealed in the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants that this is the 'only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.' (D&C 1:30.) This should raise a question in our minds of eternal significance: We know that this is the true and living church institutionally, but am I a true and living member individually?

"This question may appear as a play on the words of the Lord when he said this is the true and living church. When I ask, 'Am I a true and living member?' my question is, Am I deeply and fully dedicated to keeping the covenants I have made with the Lord? Am I totally committed to living the gospel and being a doer of the word and not a hearer only? Do I live my religion? Will I remain true? Do I stand firm against Satan's temptations? He is seeking to cause us to lose our way in a storm of derision and a tide of sophistry. We can have victory, however, by responding to that inner voice calling 'Stand firm!'" (That We Might Have Joy, p. 149)