I have always been touched by the story of the stripling warriors as told in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. As a little background to the story, the sons of Mosiah went on a fourteen-year mission to the Lamanites and were instruments in the Lord’s hands in converting thousands of the Lamanites to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The converted Lamanites realized that their sins had been washed away by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and they feared that they could not become clean again if they committed any more sins. In order to stay clean they buried their swords deep in the earth and made a covenant with God to never use their swords again.
The wicked Lamanites attacked the righteous Lamanites; the righteous men did not fight back but allowed themselves to be killed. More Lamanites were converted than were killed, but Ammon and the other missionaries feared that the righteous Lamanites would all be destroyed. Ammon consulted with the king, and the king agreed to go live among the Nephites if that was the Lord’s will; otherwise, they would stay and take their chances. Ammon prayed and received the word to leave.
The righteous Lamanites moved, and the Nephites gave them land. Everyone was happy until the wicked Lamanites attacked the Nephites in a great battle. The fathers who had covenanted to never take up their swords again felt sorrow for not being able to help the Nephites and were about to break their covenant. The prophet Helaman convinced the fathers to keep their covenant.
Now we are at the beginning of the story of the stripling warriors. One day a group of young Lamanite men approached Helaman and reminded him that they had not buried their swords or made the same covenant as their fathers. They told Helaman they were ready to fight with Nephites in defense of their lives and liberty and asked Helaman to be their leader. Helaman accepted the position and marched at the head of 2000 young Lamanite warriors that he called his “sons.”
As Helaman later reported his experiences to Captain Moroni, Helaman and the stripling warriors were in a position where they did not know if they were walking into a trap. Helaman asked, “Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?
“And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.
“For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
“And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:44-48).
As it happened, the young men joined the battle at a very critical time when the army of Antipus was about to falter. The young men fought valiantly and courageously until the wicked Lamanites had surrendered their “weapons of war and themselves as prisoners of war.” Alma feared for his warriors and numbered them as quickly as possible. To his “great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war” (Alma 56:54-56).
The two thousand young men were joined by sixty more as they went into the next battle. Helaman later reported to Captain Moroni, “But behold, my little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them.
“And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted.
“Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them” (Alma 57:19-21).
As soon as the battle was over and the Lamanites had fled, Helaman “gave orders that my men who had been wounded should be taken from among the dead, and caused that their wounds should be dressed.
“And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.
“And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe – that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power” (Alma 57:24-26).
The stripling warriors were righteous young men. They had been taught by their mothers to put their faith in God. They obeyed with exactness as they fought to defend the freedom of their country. They did not fear death but were courageous in battle. For reasons known only to God, He chose to reward the righteousness of the stripling warriors with great strength and protection. The entire army was aware of what was happening with the young men.
In 1996 my husband and oldest son were among a group of Boy Scouts that reached the summit of Mount McKinley as it was known at that time. Every group of climbers on the mountain knew that Boy Scouts were attempting to summit; they followed the Scouts’ progress each day and rejoiced at their successful summit. Some of these young men were among a larger group of their friends who put aside their education to serve the Lord in the missionary field for two years. They returned to college and now are successful men approaching middle age.
The stripling warriors and the Boy Scouts/missionaries were righteous young men who put their trust in God; they were rewarded by miracles because they put their trust in God and were valiant in serving Him. Both groups of young men set good examples for all of us to follow, and both groups were led by righteous, unselfish men. They were taught by righteous mothers and strengthened by valiant fathers. They experienced miracles because of their faith in God and obedience to commands.