Monday, February 21, 2011

Lessons from King Benjamin

My son has shown us that he really likes being told scripture stories at night as we cuddle before at bedtime. He prefers it to reading scriptures out-loud (though I was really liking the idea proposed by Sister Wixom's General Conference talk). Our nightly scripture story has become kind of like those "Pick Your Adventure" books. After a series of questions, he'll let me know which book and often which person he wants the story to be about. Lately, its from the Book of Mormon and we've settled into Kind Benjamin's famous discourse in Mosiah.

We got started with Mosiah 2:17:

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

Which shows you, that basically, when I tell a scripture story I'm describing a principle and the context in which that principle was given. Each one becomes a lesson.

Next from Mosiah, we talked about the responsibility of the wealthy and those who have more than others to give to those who have less (from Mosiah 4:21).

There are so many other lessons that can be given and stories that can be told. I need to prepare myself for the next few nights with stories on hand. If I were to pick the principles that I most want to share with my young son, I would probably cover the following:

Especially Mosiah 4: 14 and 15
14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the devil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.

15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.

Then, using verse 16, I can teach the vocabulary word "succor" and the importance of meeting the needs of those who are suffering. It should be tied into the baptismal covenant as well.

I love the concept taught in Mosiah 2:19 as it gives the unique perspective of God as Heavenly King. This seems like an appropriate time to describe Heavenly Mother as our Heavenly Queen as well. Then, of course, to emphasize the importance of gratitude for our needs being met and our blessings.

It seems appropriate to tell the story that King Benjamin prophesied about the coming of Christ in Mosiah 3:5. as well as described Christ's actions in his life and testified of his Atonement.

My son has heard it described before that as a little child he cannot sin or be held accountable for the mistakes he makes, and King Benjamin is also one of the sources for that teaching in Mosiah 3: 16.

I would use verse 19 as it describes the attributes of a child "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things..." but in my experience, that is not this child and it makes me wonder what those parents had to do to that child to make them that way. Certainly, my child does not come by these attributes naturally, though he is learning (and I'm learning too how to model it).

The subject of trust is a big one in our house since my son is not very trusting and its something that we would like to encourage. Verse 6 in chapter 4 emphasizes the need for the children of men to put their trust in the Lord and be diligent in keeping his commandments.

I also especially love verse 9 and see this as another situation where I can relate the verse to Mother in Heaven as well. I can encourage my son to "believe in God, believe that they are, and that they created all things...and that they have all wisdom and all power." It is also an opportunity to teach him of the promise that someday we too will receive all that they have, and be able to share that knowledge of what they comprehend.

So far that eight more nights of King Benjamin lessons and stories. We'll see if we can cover them all or if my son will be ready to move onto some new part of the scriptures.

As you can tell, I am focussing on the positive in these accounts and on what concrete actions can be taken. Given that he is 4, and that is how children learn (and that there is plenty of fire and brimstone in these chapters as well as debasing of the individual), I recognize that I must keep these stories developmentally appropriate so he sees that he is capable of learning and doing what is right to the greatest extent of his ability now.

I'm excited to see how long we can stretch this out. Truly the King Benjamin chapters are a favorite of mine in the Book of Mormon. (Lehi's vision is my favorite and that has already been a topic of FHE and scripture stories).

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