Ammon’s ability to perceive the king’s thoughts (v. 16) came by the spirit of revelation. This gift apparently was given to him because of much prayer and fasting (see Alma 17:3). This knowledge could only have been known to Alma by revelation because “there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart” (D&C 6:16). After hearing him say that he was a man, the king was still not convinced that Ammon was not the Great Spirit, but he did get the courage to speak to him. Perhaps the tradition of the Lamanite fathers had retained the truth that God is in form like a man and “has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (D&C 130:22). The king still wondered if Ammon was the Great Spirit because he discerned his thoughts. By doing so, also acknowledged another attribute of God—he “who knows all things” (Alma 18:18). After Ammon denied being the Great Spirit, the king was still perplexed over how Ammon could read his thoughts. His admonition for Ammon to speak boldly was an assurance that, as king, he was granting safety for Alma to tell him the source of the power that he used to defend the king’s flocks (vv. 19–20).
Ammon, as the king’s servant, had offered to do whatever the king desired as long as it was right (v. 17). He was like Amulek refusing to answer the people of Ammonihah only “if it be according to the Spirit of the Lord” (Alma 11:22). However, the king was totally subdued by Ammon. He was willing to grant him anything he desired (Alma 18:21). The Lord certainly delivered the king into Ammon’s hands to be instructed.