“In the Strength of the Lord Thou Canst Do All Things”

Brant Gardner

When Lamoni says to Ammon “I know, in the strength of the Lord thou canst do all things,” he is telling Ammon that he knows that Ammon can succeed in freeing his brethren without Lamoni’s help. Nevertheless, Lamoni wants to help Ammon. His new found joy in the gospel has changed his previously culture-bound perspective of these particular Nephites, and he wants to be helpful to him.

Political: Lamoni expects that he will be useful in the endeavor to free Ammon’s companions because the king of the land of Middoni “is a friend.” It is very important to understand that we are not likely to be speaking here of friends in the modern sense of the word. They may certainly be friendly, but these are two kings, and rule over different cities. In the Mesoamerican context where we are placing the events of the Book of Mormon, such a “friend” is an ally. City states in Mesoamerica were frequently at war with other cities. Alliances were forged and broken. Among the allied kings, however, there were frequently visits having strong political overtones (see Linda Schele and Peter Matthews. “Royal Visits and other Intersite Relationships.” Classic Maya Political History. Cambridge University Press, 1991).

Thus when Lamoni declares Antiomno as a friend, he is more probably indicating that this is an ally with whom there are some mutual expectations. The arrival of the king from one city in another was an occasion that in later years would be sufficiently significant to commission a record in stone. This is no casual meeting of friends who went bowling together every Tuesday. This was a formal exchange of state. It is in this very formal setting that we must understand the nature of the “flattery” that Lamoni suggested that he use to free Ammon’s brethren. This is very much a political negotiation, and one that was to be handled with some delicacy, as Lamoni would be asking a king to reverse a decision to imprison the Nephites.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon