Book of Mormon: Why Is Helaman in Such Awe of the Stripling Warriors?
(Not enough time to flesh it out and make it nice, buy hope you enjoy it just the same.)
It seems that Helaman is in awe of the two thousand stripling warriors.
In Alma’s counsel to Helaman, it is interesting to note that Alma touches on a few things that might let us understand a little about Helaman and his personality; in addition, his letter tells us a little more about him. (No references right now; if you disagree, let me know what and where/ why, I’ll go deeper.) I understand that:
1. Helaman must hear things over and over for them to take effect.
2. He is “lazy”/ “asleep” in the gospel (and likely other areas of life).
3. Helaman doesn’t really believe in miracles.
4. He doesn’t really have a relationship with God.
5. Helaman has a hard time either keeping the commandments or believing that one will prosper by keeping the commandments (maybe linked to his laziness or lack of faith in miracles).
6. He doesn’t take his commitments seriously.
7. He has a hard time seeing how anything he does really matters or makes a real difference in the lives of others.
8. Helaman was likely scared for himself and the sons of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.
9. He isn’t very diligent in listening to his father.
Quite ironic that the two thousand stripling warriors choose Helaman to be their leader–he was the opposite of them in his youth! The sons of the people of Ammon, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, were opposite in many ways to what Helaman had been at their age (and probably even older). Like their leader Helaman, they had no experience in war. Yet:
1. The “stripling soldiers” are brave, assertive/ industrious: they see a problem, have a solution, and do it.
Alma 53:16 But behold, it came to pass they had many sons, who had not entered into a covenant that they would not take their weapons of war to defend themselves against their enemies; therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites.
4, 8. The two thousand stripling warriors take their covenants seriously and are brave:
Alma 53:17 And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, 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 53:18 Now behold, there were two thousand of those young men, who entered into this covenant and took their weapons of war to defend their country.
5. The stripling warriors know that they will help the Nephites.
Alma 53:19 And now behold, as they never had hitherto been a disadvantage to the Nephites, they became now at this period of time also a great support; for they took their weapons of war, and they would that Helaman should be their leader.
2, 6, 5. The stripling warriors were courageous and active; committed; obedient.
Alma 53:20 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 53:21 Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.
7. The sons of Helaman clearly make a difference to others.
Alma 56:10 And I did join my two thousand sons, (for they are worthy to be called sons) to the army of Antipus, in which strength Antipus did rejoice exceedingly; for behold, his army had been reduced by the Lamanites because their forces had slain a vast number of our men, for which cause we have to mourn.
Alma 56:15 And these are the cities which they possessed when I arrived at the city of Judea; and I found Antipus and his men toiling with their might to fortify the city.
Alma 56:16 Yea, and they were depressed in body as well as in spirit, for they had fought valiantly by day and toiled by night to maintain their cities; and thus they had suffered great afflictions of every kind.
Alma 56:17 And now they were determined to conquer in this place or die; therefore you may well suppose that this little force which I brought with me, yea, those sons of mine, gave them great hopes and much joy.
3, 4. The stripling warriors influence God; their parents make a clear contribution.
Alma 56:18 And now it came to pass that when the Lamanites saw that Antipus had received a greater strength to his army, they were compelled by the orders of Ammoron to not come against the city of Judea, or against us, to battle.
Alma 56:19 And thus were we favored of the Lord; for had they come upon us in this our weakness they might have perhaps destroyed our little army; but thus were we preserved.
Alma 56:20 They were commanded by Ammoron to maintain those cities which they had taken. And thus ended the twenty and sixth year. And in the commencement of the twenty and seventh year we had prepared our city and ourselves for defence.
Alma 56:27 And now it came to pass in the second month of this year, there was brought unto us many provisions from the fathers of those my two thousand sons.
Alma 56:28 And also there were sent two thousand men unto us from the land of Zarahemla. And thus we were prepared with ten thousand men, and provisions for them, and also for their wives and their children.
8. The sons of Helaman do not fear.
Alma 56:44 Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?
Alma 56:45 And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.
4. The stripling warriors have a relationship with God.
Alma 56:46 For as I (Helaman) had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: 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; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
9, 3, 5. The soldier sons of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were diligent in listening to their parents; they believed; they obeyed.
Alma 56:47 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; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
Alma 56:48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.
7. The stripling warriors make a decisive difference.
Alma 56:49 And it came to pass that I (Helaman) did return with my two thousand against these Lamanites who had pursued us. And now behold, the armies of Antipus had overtaken them, and a terrible battle had commenced.
Alma 56:50 The army of Antipus being weary, because of their long march in so short a space of time, were about to fall into the hands of the Lamanites; and had I not returned with my two thousand they would have obtained their purpose.
Alma 56:51 For Antipus had fallen by the sword, and many of his leaders, because of their weariness, which was occasioned by the speed of their march–therefore the men of Antipus, being confused because of the fall of their leaders, began to give way before the Lamanites.
2, 6. The stripling warriors are vigorous in action, they show their commitment.
Alma 56:52 And it came to pass that the Lamanites took courage, and began to pursue them; and thus were the Lamanites pursuing them with great vigor when Helaman came upon their rear with his two thousand, and began to slay them exceedingly, insomuch that the whole army of the Lamanites halted and turned upon Helaman.
Alma 56:53 Now when the people of Antipus saw that the Lamanites had turned them about, they gathered together their men and came again upon the rear of the Lamanites.
Alma 56:54 And now it came to pass that we, the people of Nephi, the people of Antipus, and I with my two thousand, did surround the Lamanites, and did slay them; yea, insomuch that they were compelled to deliver up their weapons of war and also themselves as prisoners of war.
3, 2. The 2,060 stripling warriors are protected; they are powerful in action.
Alma 56:55 And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold, I (Helaman) numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain.
Alma 56:56 But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.
2, 6. The stripling warriors are confident and forceful.
Alma 57:2 But I sent an epistle unto the king, that we were sure our forces were sufficient to take the city of Antiparah by our force; and by delivering up the prisoners for that city we should suppose ourselves unwise, and that we would only deliver up our prisoners on exchange.
Alma 57:3 And Ammoron refused mine epistle, for he would not exchange prisoners; therefore we began to make preparations to go against the city of Antiparah.
Alma 57:4 But the people of Antiparah did leave the city, and fled to their other cities, which they had possession of, to fortify them; and thus the city of Antiparah fell into our hands.
2, 6. Diligent in doing what needed to be done, however uncomfortable and tiring.
Alma 57:9 And it came to pass that we did camp round about the city for many nights; but we did sleep upon our swords, and keep guards, that the Lamanites could not come upon us by night and slay us, which they attempted many times; but as many times as they attempted this their blood was spilt.
6, 8. Helaman says:
Alma 57:19 But behold, my little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them.
Alma 57:20 And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted.
1, 9, 5, 3, 2.
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; and I (Helaman) did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.
7. The stripling warriors saved the army.
Alma 57:22 And now behold, it was these my sons, and those men who had been selected to convey the prisoners, to whom we owe this great victory; for it was they who did beat the Lamanites; therefore they were driven back to the city of Manti.
3, 5, 8. A miracle of preservation based on faith and obedience, not fear.
Alma 57:25 And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.
Alma 57:26 And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe–that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.
Alma 57:27 Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.
Alma 57:35 And behold, we are again delivered out of the hands of our enemies. And blessed is the name of our God; for behold, it is he that has delivered us; yea, that has done this great thing for us.
Alma 57:36 Now it came to pass that when I, Helaman, had heard these words of Gid, I was filled with exceeding joy because of the goodness of God in preserving us, that we might not all perish; yea, and I trust that the souls of them who have been slain have entered into the rest of their God.
2, 3, 4, 5, 7. In hard times, they rely on the Lord.
Alma 58:10 Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.
Alma 58:11 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.
6. Their commitment to liberty is firm.
Alma 58:12 And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty.
Alma 58:13 And thus we did go forth with all our might against the Lamanites, who were in the city of Manti; and we did pitch our tents by the wilderness side, which was near to the city.
3, 4, 5. They depend on the Lord for help.
Alma 58:33 But behold, we trust in our God who has given us victory over those lands, insomuch that we have obtained those cities and those lands, which were our own.
Alma 58:37 But, behold, it mattereth not–we trust God will deliver us, notwithstanding the weakness of our armies, yea, and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies.
Alma 58:39 And those sons of the people of Ammon, of whom I (Helaman) have so highly spoken, are with me in the city of Manti; and the Lord has supported them, yea, and kept them from falling by the sword, insomuch that even one soul has not been slain.
1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9.
Alma 58:40 But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless 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.
And in the process of leading these young 2,000 and then 2,060 stripling warriors, Helaman becomes more and more like them, and less like he used to be. Helaman learns–by himself and his experiences, and from the sons of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies–a lot that Alma had wanted him to learn and had taught him. (Nothing like experience itself as the best teacher, eh?) Temporal and spiritual principles are the same, just used in different areas. However, it is usually more apparent in temporal settings, and especially in extreme situations. For example, in war, the failure to follow one simple command could result in the death of many fellow soldiers, and the person responsible would likely see it (if he hadn’t died already); but forgetting to write or read the scriptures daily…? (Dang, maybe *I* should have joined the military…)