"This is the first reference to a temple in the land of Zarahemla. The building of a temple mentioned earlier in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 5:16) refers to the temple in the land of Nephi. Our present Book of Mormon does not provide any additional information concerning when or by whom this temple in Zarahemla was constructed." (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.173)
Just as the temple was the center-place of spirituality under the Law of Moses, the Nephites naturally gathered at the temple to hear the words of their beloved king. The temple serves a similar purpose for us. We can go to our spiritual center-place to learn the word and will of the Lord in a very personal way.
"In June 1994, President Howard W. Hunter encouraged members to 'establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants,' and to 'go not only for our kindred dead, but let us also go for the personal blessing of temple worship.' (Church News, "Temple Moments: Incomprehensible Joy", 02/15/97)
There are passages in the Book of Mormon which are so filled with the spirit of prophecy and revelation that they stand as a beacon of truth to all those who read them. Benjamin's sermon is one of those passages. For someone to read these chapters and then discard the Book of Mormon as a farce, fabrication, or imposter is to reject the Lord himself.
I once spoke with a minister who had just finished reading 1 and 2 Nephi. There are many passages in those books which are also filled with the Spirit. Yet, the minister's conclusion was that the Book of Mormon does not carry the same Spirit that the Bible does. This conclusion, of course, was made before he ever read the first verse. The truth is, that if one understands the Spirit of the Bible, one will recognize that same Spirit in the pages of the Book of Mormon, if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ (2 Nephi 33:10). Those who reject the message of this sermon will do so because they don't know the Master, For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thought and intents of his heart? (Mosiah 5:13)
"With the exception of the words of Christ himself, no speech in sacred literature, in our opinion, surpasses that of King Benjamin. Delivered at the temple in the city of Zarahemla around 124 BC, this text is a treasure trove in inspiration, wisdom, eloquence, and profound spiritual experience and insight. Little wonder that Mormon saw fit to include this speech as he complied the most significant Nephite records into the Book of Mormon…That oration was a landmark in its own day, and it still stands as a shining beacon of truth and goodness in our day." (John W. Welch, and Stephen D. Ricks, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, p. vii)
"Many readers have intuitively sensed the profundity of its message. Elder Bruce R. McConkie found that it contained 'what well may be the greatest sermon ever delivered on the atonement of Christ the Lord.' Milton R. Hunter marveled at King Benjamin, observing that 'perhaps no other teacher except the Master has given a more beautiful, humble sermon.'…
"Memorable oratory is dramatic. 'Truly great oratory,' it is said, 'is the result only of a great occasion.' The setting timing, and delivery of Benjamin's speech make it no ordinary, off-the-cuff conversation. His counsel and testimony were delivered in a powerfully dramatic setting that even today attracts the reader's attention and contributes to its literary effectiveness." (John W. Welch, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, pp. 51, 58)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The general substance of the Book of Mormon itself, of course, encapsulates this rich and special sermon, which is like a sparkling, doctrinal diamond that can be approached and appreciated in so many different ways. Surely King Benjamin kept his promise not to 'trifle' with words (Mosiah 2:9), for his was a rich and whole-souled sermon." (John W. Welch, and Stephen D. Ricks, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, p. 4)