One of the kings among the people known as the Nephites was a man called Benjamin.
He was a righteous man, as well as an able administrator and ruler, acknowledged and respected by all who were in his kingdom. But as he grew old, he eventually passed the kingship to one of his sons and instructed him to notify the people of a mass meeting to be held on the grounds of the temple. Here he would give a farewell address and introduce the new king.
The occasion was a memorable one in which many thousands gathered together with their families, bringing also the firstlings of their flocks to offer burnt sacrifices. Never before had such a meeting been held, and the congregation was large enough that Benjamin had a tower constructed where he could stand while speaking. The acoustics were also a problem, and his words were recorded and sent among the people who were long distances away, the huge crowd generally being camped in tents round about the temple.
The king's address was significant in that it dealt mainly with what he expected of the people. He exhorted them to help one another, for example, as he personally had done. “And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands,“ he said, “that I might serve you.” He emphasized that in them doing likewise, they would also be showing respect for God.
Much of the king's address was a religious sermon more than anything else. Again and again he counseled people to be good neighbors and serve each other. "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom," he told them; "that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." "Behold, ye have called me your king," he cried; "and if I whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?" (Mosiah 2: 14,17-18) All of these things were written and sent among the people, later to be included in the record called the Book of Mormon.
An important reason for the meeting in the precincts of the temple was to notify the people that Benjamin was no longer their king, and that a new one had been put inhis place. It was difficult for the old king to proclaim this, not because he regretted having to do it, but because of his diminishing health and weariness. "For even at this time, my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you," he said; "but the Lord God doth support me, and hath suffered me that I should speak unto you, and hath commanded me that I should declare unto you this day, that my son Mosiah is a king and a ruler over you."
It was part of an impressive farewell and would forever be remembered as one given by an aging monarch, standing atop an imposing tower. His remarks were very convincing, some of which were inscribed in ancient records and today appear in modem scripture. Yet among the many things for which he will be remembered is one of the concluding requests to his people, again having to do with welfare and service. "And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service," he said, "and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, 0 how ye ought to thank your heavenly King!" (Mosiah 2:30 and 19) Truly they were impelling words from one who had been an earthly king!
Written by Clay McConkie.
Click here "Mosaih 1:10,18; 2-4" to read the actual account of this story from the Book of Mormon.