The King’s Son
by Bishop Vaughn J. Featherstone
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric
Many years ago I heard the story of the son of King Louis XVI of France. King Louis had been taken from his throne and imprisoned. His young son, the prince, was taken by those who dethroned the king. They thought that inasmuch as the king’s son was heir to the throne, if they could destroy him morally, he would never realize the great and grand destiny that life had bestowed upon him.
They took him to a community far away, and there they exposed the lad to every filthy and vile thing that life could offer. They exposed him to foods the richness of which would quickly make him a slave to appetite. They used vile language around him constantly. They exposed him to lewd and lusting women. They exposed him to dishonor and distrust. He was surrounded 24 hours a day by everything that could drag the soul of a man as low as one could slip. For over six months he had this treatment—but not once did the young lad buckle under pressure. Finally, after intensive temptation, they questioned him. Why had he not submitted himself to these things—why had he not partaken? These things would provide pleasure, satisfy his lusts, and were desirable; they were all his. The boy said, “I cannot do what you ask for I was born to be a king.”
We are all born to be kings in the kingdom of God. Our Father is a king, and just as the king’s son was exposed to every vile and perverted thing in this life, so you will be exposed to much of the filth and degradation of our generation. But you Aaronic Priesthood bearers and Young Women are also born to be kings and queens, priests and priestesses.
Another great son of a heavenly king was Joseph, the son of Jacob. You recall that Joseph was sold by his brothers and taken into a foreign and distant land. The Lord was with Joseph, and he prospered. The Lord blessed him through many trying experiences, and finally Joseph became second in command in the household of Potiphar, second only to Potiphar himself. Joseph was fine and tall and strong and virile. His cleanliness, his dedication to high principles, lifted him to a pinnacle far above all others with whom he worked and served. As he went to and fro in the household of Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife began to lust. Her lust grew until it could not be controlled, and finally, when Potiphar was away from his home, she approached Joseph and said, “Joseph, come and lie with me.” Joseph said to her, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And he fled from her. The action of a king’s son. (See Gen. 40:7–8.)
In the Book of Mormon, Ammon and three of his brethren, Aaron, Omner, and Himni, sons of Mosiah the king, were with Alma at the time when the angel first appeared unto him. After having had this great spiritual conversion, the king’s sons desired that they might go unto the Lamanites to be messengers of light to those people who walked in darkness. The scriptures describe the king’s sons in this way:
“They had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
“But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” (Alma 17:2–3.)
Now you recall they went forth to teach the Lamanites for the space of 14 years.
“Now Ammon being the chief among them, … he departed from them, after having blessed them … , having imparted the word of God unto them … ; and thus they took their several journeys throughout the land.
“And Ammon went to the land of Ishmael.” (Alma 17:18–19.)
And you recall the Lamanites took him and bound him, as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands, and carried him before the king.
“And thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of his land, according to his will and pleasure.
“And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; …
“And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people.
“And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.
“And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife.
“But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni.” (Alma 17:20–25.)
Now we find an interesting thing—here is a king’s son doing the most menial tasks among the Lamanites. He was sent among other servants to watch the flocks of Lamoni; he became a simple shepherd. Here is an impressive lesson taught by a king’s son. Undoubtedly Ammon had had the privilege of having servants in his household, in the household of King Mosiah. He knew what it was to be royalty, to be treated with dignity. He knew what was expected of servants—how they should work, their loyalty. He knew the attitude it was necessary to possess in order to please the king. He knew it must also be sincere, from the depths of his soul.
Then you recall that after three days he and the other servants went forth to a place of water that was called the water of Sebus, and “all the Lamanites [would] drive their flocks hither, that they [might] have water.” (Alma 17:26.)
A certain number of Lamanites who had watered their flocks stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them so that they fled many ways.
“Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.
“Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.
“And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren.
“And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and he will not slay us.
“And it came to pass that they went in search of the flocks, and they did follow Ammon, and they rushed forth with much swiftness and did head the flocks of the king, and did gather them together again to the place of water.
“And those men again stood to scatter their flocks; but Ammon said unto his brethren: Encircle the flocks round about that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men who do scatter our flocks.
“Therefore, they did as Ammon commanded them, and he went forth and stood to contend with those who stood by the waters of Sebus; and they were in number not a few.
“Therefore they did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord; therefore they delighted in the destruction of their brethren; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king.
“But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him.
“But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm.
“Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few.
“And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king, and then went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to slay him; and they were carried in unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done.” (Alma 17:28–39.)
The servants went in before the king and testified of all that had been done by Ammon in preserving the king’s flocks. They discussed Ammon’s great powers in contending against the Lamanites who sought to slay him as well as scatter the king’s flocks. They suggested that he was more than a man, that he might be the Great Spirit. And then the king’s servants, after having discussed the great powers of Ammon, said this: “Neither can they scatter the king’s flocks when he is with us because of his expertness and great strength; therefore, we know that he is a friend to the king.” (Alma 18:3.)
Here again is a great example of a king’s son and his actions. Where was Ammon during this report to the king? Ammon was feeding the king’s horses. He was keeping the commandment of the king for the king had commanded his servants previous to the time of the watering of the flocks that they should prepare his horses and chariots and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi. Many of us would suppose that because Ammon had done such a great thing as defeating the enemies of the king, severing many of their arms from their bodies, and bringing them back to the king, that this would be sufficient to stand him in good stead with the king, that he need do no more. The king’s son understood the value of total service. He knew that the glory of his previous actions was the Lord’s, but he also knew that he could be a faithful and worthy servant himself by filling all the commandments of the king. So when the servants told the king that Ammon was preparing his horses and his chariots, he was more astonished because of the faithfulness of Ammon, and he said, “Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them.” (Alma 18:10.)
Would that our Father, our Heavenly King, could say this about his children—that we remembered all of his commandments to execute them. What would our Heavenly King have us do as his children? We should be faithful in filling every assignment. We ought to be virtuous and pure and trustworthy. We ought to stand steadfast in our callings, filling them in the same dedicated and loyal fashion in which Ammon filled his assignments as a servant of the king. We ought to have the integrity of the son of King Louis XVI and have branded onto our hearts “I cannot do what you ask for I was born to be a king.”
We can use the tools that God has given us in our area of responsibility to prove faithful and true. If we put all of these qualities together, then we find that they multiply many times over upon our heads. We are increased and become all that God would have us be.
You recall the legend of a king who became bored with his routine living. He announced to his subjects that the person who could provide him with a game that would give him constant pleasure would be rewarded greatly, even unto half of his kingdom. Of course everyone wanted a “piece of the action.” Day after day, month in and month out, he reviewed all of the games that were invented. Finally a subject came to him and told him he had invented a game that would entertain the king as long as he lived. The subject demonstrated the game—he told the king that the game must be played on a board with 64 squares. He said the name of the game was chess. He taught the king all the moves and played several games with him. The king was so enraptured by the game that he told the subject to ask for anything. The man declined, suggesting that he had received enough pay if the king enjoyed the game. However, the king would not take no for an answer. Finally the subject said, “If you are determined to pay me something, give me one grain of wheat for the first square on the chessboard, two for the second, four grains for the third, eight for the fourth, and so on, doubling the number for each square until all 64 squares of the board are covered.”
The king was very disappointed that this was all the subject desired of him. Finally he agreed and sent a servant out to get a bushel of wheat and pay the man off. Well, by now you have the message—it wasn’t that simple. By the time the king tried to pay off the 64th square in wheat, he found that all of the crop of his country was not adequate to pay the debt. To do so would have required 18,446, 744,073,709,551,615 grains!
The development of our personal talents and skills, the character and integrity that come from living the gospel, the strength we gain through obedience to the commandments—each multiplies itself many times over in a lifetime. The return on the investment in ourselves, our time, and our abilities is beyond anything we can possibly suppose. However, the beginning is as simple as putting a grain of wheat on one square and doubling it on the next square. It starts when we develop one skill, when we keep one additional commandment, when we have greater faith, greater integrity, when we follow the patterns of the King’s Son.
I am impressed that the King’s Son, the first and Only Begotten of the Father, the Redeemer, the great I Am, truly reflected the noble birthright that each of us has. He never deviated; his loyalty was total; his service was total and unimpaired in any way. He ministered to the weak, to the downtrodden, to the heavy-hearted, to the lame and the halt and the maimed and the blind and the leprous; he had compassion on the multitudes. His love and devotion, his actions, his total life were summed up by our Heavenly King in these words: “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Would that God could say that of each of us as we fill our assignments in this great work, for truly we are the King’s sons.
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