1. Alma shares his testimony and gives the records to his son Helaman.
Alma 36:1 Give ear to my words
‘Nearly eighteen years earlier, in 82 B.C., when Alma was a rambunctious and apostate son of the president of the Church, he and the four apostate sons of king Mosiah had been visited by an angel. This angel came roaring out of heaven with the wrath of God in his voice. It caused the earth to shake and knocked the five young men flat on the ground. We read all about this event in the 27th chapter of Mosiah, but now, as Alma comes to the end of his ministry, he wants to tell about this fantastic experience in his own words so that his eldest son, Helaman, can testify that he heard this account from the lips of his own father.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
Alma 36:6-9 Seeking to destroy the church of God
‘In these verses, Alma recounts some of his own history as a former persecutor of the church who then became one of its most ardent and devoted converts. The phrase “seeking to destroy the church” (verse 6) is mirrored by Alma’s reflection in verse 24 that since his conversion he has “labored without ceasing, that [he] might bring souls to repentance.” Whereas once he tried to tear down the church, his life since he encountered Christ (who is the crux of this chiasm; see verses 17–18) has been about building up the church and bringing God’s children into the fold.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections annotated and explained)
Alma 36:26 Seen eye to eye as I have seen
“After a person has faith in Christ…then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted….when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 149-50, italics added)
Alma 37:1 The records
“We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and many other plates … there appeared as it were, a table with many records or plates upon it, besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the Sword of Laban, the Directors i.e., the ball which Lehi had-and the Interpreters [Urim and Thummim]. I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.” (1878 interview between Orson Pratt and David Whitmer, recorded in Book of Mormon Compendium, pp. 55-56)
Alma 37:6-7 By small and simple things
“We observe vast, sweeping world events; however, we must remember that the purposes of the Lord in our personal lives generally are fulfilled through the small and simple things and not the momentous and spectacular. …
“Great and marvelous events seem to motivate us, but small things often do not hold our attention. Noting that the Liahona worked by faith, Alma stated, ‘Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means … [the people of Lehi] were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey’ (Alma 37:41).
“Is our journey sometimes impeded when we forget the importance of small things? (see Alma 37:46). Do we realize that small events and choices determine the direction of our lives just as small helms determine the direction of great ships? (see James 3:4; D&C 123:16). …
“… We need to have family and personal prayers; study the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon; hold family home evenings; follow the admonition of the Savior to love one another; and be thoughtful, kind, and gentle within the family. Through these and other similar small and simple things, we have the promise that our lives will be filled with peace and joy” (M Russell Ballard in Conference Report, Apr. 1990).
Alma 37:8 Enlarged the memory of this people
‘While faith is not a perfect knowledge, it brings a deep trust in God, whose knowledge is perfect! Otherwise, one’s small data base of personal experience permits so few useful generalizations! But by searching the holy scriptures, we access a vast, divine data bank, a reservoir of remembrance. In this way, the scriptures can, as the Book of Mormon says, enlarge the memory. ‘ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, April 1991)
Alma 37:34 Never be weary of good works
“Paradoxical as it sounds, more diligence actually brings more relief. Any selfishness, on the other hand, magnifies our weariness. Selfishness not only shrinks the quantity of service we render but also provides none of the needed renewal, no ‘rest to [our] souls.'” (Neal A Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well, p. 113)
Alma 37:35 Learn wisdom in thy youth
“As I look at you youth, I think not only of what you are, but of what you may become. I also remember who you are, and I plead with you to do likewise. You are the sons and daughters of Almighty God. Each of you has a destiny to fulfill, a life to live, a contribution to make, a goal to achieve. The future of the kingdom of God upon the earth will, in part, be determined by your devotion.
“When this perspective is firmly in mind, you can appreciate the absolute necessity of diligence in this, your period of preparation. Neglect to prepare and you mortgage your future.
“…these challenging times will require your finest efforts. A half-hearted effort will not suffice. You must labor with your might.
“This is your world. Whether you like it or not, you are engaged in the race of your life. At stake is eternal life—yours. What shall be the outcome? Will you be a leader of men and a servant of God? Or will you be a servant of sin and a follower of Satan? Decisions determine destiny. In the quiet of your study, surrounded by books written by the finest minds of men, listen for and hearken to the Master’s invitation: ’…learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ (Matthew 11:29–30.) Such learning transcends the classroom, it endures beyond graduation, it meets the test of experience.’ (Thomas S Monson, Pathways To Perfection, p. 252-3)
Alma 37:36-37 Cry unto God
“We would say to the brethren, seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in. Be virtuous and pure; be men of integrity and truth; keep the commandments of God; and then you will be able more perfectly to understand the difference between right and wrong-between the things of God and the things of men; and your path will be like that of the just, which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:31)
Alma 37:43 These things are not without a shadow
‘One imagines that Helaman is wondering by this time why his father is rehearsing all this ancient history about their ancestors and the Liahona. Alma gets to the heart of it in verse 43, when he suggests that the Liahona story is a “shadow” of an important additional compass. He doesn’t want his son to ever become “slothful” in attending to the will of God. As Grant Hardy points out, it’s no coincidence that this conversation occurs in the context of the transference of the sacred records from father to son. The scriptures are to be another Liahona, or compass, to guide people to truth.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)
Alma 37:46 Let us not be slothful
“Muttering and murmuring are often the expressions of our conscience gone grumpy; it is precisely because we know we need to respond affirmatively (and have some inkling about what’s coming) that we let off steam—we start puffing in advance of the climb. These are reactions genuinely to be avoided, since they can precede the keeping of a commandment or the fulfilling of a task with a slothful heart, which is more serious. Mostly, to avoid muttering, we need to trust more. So many of the things muttered about before turn out to be marvelous experiences later, and we are inwardly, and deservedly, ashamed for having grumbled.” (Neal A Maxwell, Deposition of a Disciple, p. 31)
2. Alma praises and encourages his son Shiblon.
Alma 38:5 Trust in God
“There is not a man upon the earth that has put his trust in God, I do not care what part of the world he has been in, but what can say that he delivered him. I know that has been the case with me, emphatically so. I have been satisfied, when in foreign lands and in strange countries, where I had no access but to the Almighty, that he was on my side, and I know that he has answered my prayers. (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 8:96, June 17, 1860)
Alma 38:10 Temperate in all things
“The temperance spoken of here is that of restraint and moderation, particularly in that which we say and teach. For example, it is unwise to use stories, quotations, or information that we cannot verify. Temperance is especially important if the story is of a sensational nature or involves someone of high standing in the Church. Wise teachers will confine themselves to that which they understand, or that for which they are reliable witnesses. Exaggerations, stretching of the truth, and embellished stories and quotations bring no dignity to the gospel or to the teacher. indeed, such practices are offensive to the Spirit.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 286)
Alma 38:11 See that ye are not lifted up unto pride
‘So far, Alma’s advice to his son Shiblon has been similar to his advice to Helaman. He told both of the promise that those who keep the commandments will prosper in the land. He told both of his conversion story. He encouraged both to learn wisdom. But Shiblon was different than Helaman. Of all Alma’s sons, Shiblon was apparently the most faithful. Yet, Alma is concerned about one thing—pride.
According to the theme of the Book of Mormon, it is among the most righteous that pride becomes a snare. When Shiblon was righteous, his father warned him of pride. When Oliver Cowdery was righteous, the Lord warned him of pride (DC 23:1). Whenever the saints have been righteous, the prophets have warned them of pride. Unfortunately, there is something about righteousness which inevitably draws us toward self-righteousness.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)
Alma 38:12 Bridle all your passions
‘A bridle is used to guide, to direct, to restrain. Our passion is to be controlled. When lawfully used, the power of procreation will bless and will sanctify.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, April 2015)
3. Alma admonishes his son Corianton to repent.
Alma 39:2 Boasting in thy strength
“Boasting in the arm of flesh, one of the commonest of all sins among worldly people, is a gross evil; it is a sin born of pride, a sin that creates a frame of mind which keeps men from turning to the Lord and accepting his saving grace. When a man engages in self exultation because of his riches, his political power, his worldly learning, his physical prowess, his business acumen, or even his works of righteousness, he is not in tune with the Spirit of the Lord. Salvation itself comes by the grace of God, ‘Not of works,’ that is not of the performances and outward display of the law, ‘lest any man should boast.’ (Eph. 2:4-22; Rom. 3:27.) As King Benjamin asked, after explaining the goodness of God and the comparative nothingness of men, ‘Of what have ye to boast?’ (Mosiah 2: 17-26.)” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 93)
Alma 39:4 Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry
‘There are at least three dangers that threaten the Church within… They are flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and sexual impurity. But the third subject mentioned – personal purity, is perhaps of greater importance than either of the other two. We believe in one standard of morality for men and women. If purity of life is neglected, all other dangers set in upon us like the rivers of waters when the flood gates are opened.’ ( F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 313.)
Alma 39:8 Ye cannot hide your crimes from God
“Do not take comfort in the fact that your transgressions are not known by others. That is like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand. He sees only darkness and feels comfortably hidden. In reality he is ridiculously conspicuous. Likewise our every act is seen by our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. They know everything about us…I invite each one of you to thoughtfully review your life…Is there a dark corner that needs to be cleaned out?… When it is quiet and you can think clearly, does your conscience tell you to repent?” (Richard G Scott, Ensign, May 1995)
Alma 39:9 Go no more after the lusts of your eyes
“The girl you marry can expect you to come to the marriage altar absolutely clean. She can expect you to be a young man of virtue in thought and word and deed. I plead with you boys tonight to keep yourselves free from the stains of the world…You must not fool around with the Internet to find pornographic material…You must not rent videos with pornography of any kind…Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive. It can become habitual, and those who indulge in it get so they cannot leave it alone. It is addictive…it seduces and destroys its victims…I plead with you young men not to get involved in its use. You simply cannot afford to. The girl you marry is worthy of a husband whose life has not been tainted by this ugly and corrosive material.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, May 1998, p. 49)
Alma 39:10 Give heed to their counsel
Alma’s counsel to Corianton to seek advice from his seasoned older brothers indicates that he, himself, does not expect to be around much longer. In fact, he departs early in the next year (the nineteenth of the judges), and is never seen again (‘Alma 45:18). Thus, Alma is giving his sons his final instructions and blessing; and in Alma’s absence, Corianton’s older brothers will be the source to whom he must turn for spiritual guidance.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 39:17-19 The Plan of Salvation
“The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence … ; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now;’ He knew of the fall of Adam, the iniquities of the antediluvians, of the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family … ; He comprehended the fall of man, and his redemption; He knew the plan of salvation and pointed it out; He was acquainted with the situation of all nations and with their destiny; … He knows the situation of both the living and the dead, and has made ample provision for their redemption” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:597).