“Is Not This the Great Spirit”

Monte S. Nyman

King Lamoni’s knowledge of the Great Spirit, and that of his people, came from their fathers (v. 4). He had personally learned of the Great Spirit from his own father (v. 5). After nearly five hundred years—the Nephites separated themselves from the apostate Lamanites sometime before 570 B.C. (see 2 Nephi 5:5–6)—it is understandable that their knowledge of the Great Spirit was uncertain. The king did know it was wrong to commit murder (Alma 18:5), and he recognized the Great Spirit would punish those who were guilty of such a sin (v. 2). The power of God that was observed in Ammon and reported to the king was beyond anything they had ever witnessed (v. 3). The king also recognized that one of the Great Spirit’s purposes was to preserve their lives (v. 4). The people, particularly the royalty, were apparently taught the concept of “the king can do no wrong” (v. 5), a political theory of the monarchy even today.

As limited as their knowledge was, it still gave them the basic ingredient to produce faith unto salvation—to have an idea that God exists. The next step was to teach them the correct knowledge of the character, perfections, and attributes of God. We will witness Ammon teaching the Lamanites these things as the saga continues.

Book of Mormon Commentary: The Record of Alma