“They Also Had What They Should Speak Given Unto Them”

Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet
As agents of the Lord they sought to be in tune so that they could speak the words of their Principal. They were led and guided by the power of the Holy Ghost, and as such had the very words divinely provided for them. Always and forever the counsel of the Master to his servants is, “Treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85). “Lift up your voices unto this people,” Christ commanded in a modern revelation; “speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; for it shall be given you in the very moment, what ye shall say” (D&C 100:5-6).

“O That I Were an Angel”

We observe again that an “angel” is a messenger of God and that Alma is, indeed, such a messenger (see commentary on Alma 27:4). We are also reminded of the words of Nephi, wherein he said that angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that upon receiving the Holy Ghost one could speak with the tongue of angels (2 Nephi 32:2-3). Angels do not have a priesthood beyond that held by mortals, nor do they have a gospel that differs in any way from that known by those in the flesh. It is our right to speak with the same clarity, the same power, and the same assurance known to angels in declaring the gospel. And as to those to whom the gospel is declared, it will make no difference to the heavenly tribunal if they rejected the message of a mortal or an immortal messenger, for the message and its power to cleanse sin and bring salvation are the same.

“O That I Were an Angel”

In this beautiful and spirit-filled expression, Alma wishes for the voice of an angel and the spiritual power to declare the message of salvation to every people upon the face of the earth. Perhaps he desires to affect the world for good just as the angel who appeared to him and the sons of Mosiah had dramatically affected the course of events in Nephite history. He then chides himself, saying, “I do sin in my wish,” and concludes that he ought to be content with the office and call the Lord has given him.

In the verses that follow he declares that the Lord grants to all men according to their desires (verses 4 and 5). What, then, of his desire to raise the warning voice among all nations? Ought it not be noted that, through the going forth of the Book of Mormon, Alma does indeed speak with the eloquence of an angel to those of every nation, kindred, and tongue! Ought it not be noted also that there was no sin in his desire to declare the gospel to the peoples of the earth, and that people by the tens of thousands, yes, by the tens of millions, will yet hear this voice as the voice of an angel echoing through the ages to touch their hearts and direct their course. The earth has known few teachers the equal of Alma the Younger.

Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3