12 And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.I noticed for the first time the two different types of battles King Benjamin fought are described. King Benjamin gathered his armies and fought the Lamanites with the sword of Laban until they were driven out of the land. Then he gathered his armies of holy men and prophets and fought against false Christs, false prophets, and false teachers until their mouths had been shut and they had been punished according to their crimes. They fought using the word of God—“they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness” (v17), meaning they used the sword of the Spirit. He fought physical battles and spiritual battles.
13 And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against them; and he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban.
14 And in the strength of the Lord they did contend against their enemies, until they had slain many thousands of the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did contend against the Lamanites until they had driven them out of all the lands of their inheritance.
15 And it came to pass that after there had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes;
16 And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes; and after there having been much contention and many dissensions away unto the Lamanites, behold, it came to pass that king Benjamin, with the assistance of the holy prophets who were among his people—
17 For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—(Words of Mormon 1:12-17)
What was the result? “[B]y laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.” (v18) He established both physical and spiritual peace because he fought physical and spiritual battles with both his body and his soul.
What kind of battles am I fighting today? Lots of spiritual battles. If King Benjamin got help from many holy men in his spiritual battles, then we can also get help from the many holy men who have gone before us, as written in the scriptures, and we can get help from words of the living prophets and from each other to fight our spiritual battles. We can use the word of God, which is sharper than a two-edged sword and can pierce through both joints and marrow.
Another reason this block of verses is important is it shows us that the wonderful experiences that King Benjamin had and his people had during his final speech on his tower did not come effortlessly; rather, it was the culmination of a long life of very hard work teaching the people and working with them. Without these verses, it would seem to us that King Benjamin’s experiences were effortless in comparison to Alma the Younger’s hard work teaching the Nephites, and we’d wonder what King Benjamin’s secret was. This shows us King Benjamin had no special secret; he may have worked just as hard or even harder than Alma the Younger and we just don’t get to see the full scope of it all.
How does this apply to us? This helps us realize that when we’re about to get jealous of other families in the church who, seemingly without effort, have such obedient and knowledgeable children who are strong in the gospel, we’re not seeing all the effort they put in to teach their families. We’re only seeing the fruits without seeing the digging, hoeing, planting, pruning, and so on.