“But behold, it came to pass they had many sons, who had not entered into a covenant that they would not take their weapons of war to defend themselves against their enemies; therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites. And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage. Now behold, there were two thousand of those young men, who entered into this covenant and took their weapons of war to defend their country. And now behold, as they never had hitherto been a disadvantage to the Nephites, they became now at this period of time also a great support; for they took their weapons of war, and they would that Helaman should be their leader. And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him. And now it came to pass that Helaman did march at the head of his two thousand stripling soldiers, to the support of the people in the borders of the land on the south by the west sea” (Alma 53:10-22. Emphasis added.).
It seems that many times we picture Helaman as a big, strong, experienced military leader. If that is the case, then it would make a lot of sense for a troop of young men who had never fought in battle to choose him as their general. But if we take a good look at Helaman’s resume we may picture him very differently and pause to ponder why such an inexperienced group would choose such a leader.
Helaman, the Son of Alma:
- eldest son of Alma2, not taken to preach to Zoramites2: Alma 31:7 .
- is entrusted with plates, to keep record: Alma 37:1–2 . ( Alma 45:2–3 ; Alma 50:38 . )
- is given 24 plates of Jaredites: Alma 37:21 .
- is commanded to preserve Urim and Thummim: Alma 37:21, 23–24 .
- is blessed because of belief: Alma 45:2–8 .
- to write prophecy of Nephite destruction: Alma 45:9–14 .
- is blessed by father: Alma 45:15 .
- preaches: Alma 45:20 . ( Alma 48:19 ; Alma 62:44 . )
- reestablishes Church: Alma 45:22 .
- appoints priests: Alma 45:23 .
- is opposed by unrepentant: Alma 46:1 .
- a high priest over Church: Alma 46:6 .
- maintains order in Church: Alma 46:38 .
- people have peace and prosperity because they heed Helaman: Alma 49:30 .
- persuades Ammonites not to break oath: Alma 53:14 .
How do you picture Helaman now? Perhaps even Arnold Friberg’s famous painting is a bit generous (maybe not…, who knows?). The point that I would like to make is that these young novice would-be warriors did not choose someone of previous military prowess and prestige. Instead they chose to make a prophet of God their leader in battle. Surely there is great scriptural support for such success, but very little worldly wisdom. Most military missions of this kind would end up a tragic headline. However, when we choose to “follow the prophet” we will always be successful.
The world may look upon us with wonder as we follow the prophets of God today. They see old men who seem out of touch and old-fashioned. Faithful disciples of Christ see men of experience who serve God and teach eternal truths. Just as the Army of Helaman found great success by choosing the Lord’s captain as their captain, so we will find that we are able to come off conquerors in life’s great battles as we choose to “follow the prophet”. Some people may criticize this statement and say something like, “Shouldn’t you be saying ‘follow the Savior’?” Well, that is exactly what I am saying, for as President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain—how close do our lives harmonize with the Lord’s anointed—the living Prophet—President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency” (see FOURTEEN FUNDAMENTALS IN FOLLOWING THE PROPHET). So, who have you chosen as your leader? If you haven’t chosen the Lord’s prophet, then you haven’t chosen the Lord!