Mosiah 11:1 the reign of king Noah
King Noah deserves the dubious distinction of being the most wicked king in Nephite history. He taxes his people more than his predecessors, he encourages riotous living, becomes a wine-bibber, establishes the practice of polygamy and concubines to satisfy his lustful heart, turns his people from the Lord, fails to adequately protect them from the Lamanites, has the prophet Abinadi burned at the stake, and finally, while fleeing from a Lamanite army, suggests that the men abandon the women and children and run for their lives (Mosiah 19:11). He is the best example of the adage, when the wicked rule, the people mourn (DC 98:9).
The beginning of chapter 11 begins with a change from the unabridged record of Zeniff to Mormon's abridgement of the record of Noah. Until the reign of Abinadi, Mormon has nothing good to write about-just the wickedness of Noah, his extravagance as king, and the wickedness of his priests.
Mosiah 11:6 thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity
"Now the fact that they worked hard doesn't sanctify their wealth or the uses of it. Remember, Jacob said, you have worked hard, and by your industry you have acquired great wealth. But it's vile; you shouldn't have it. The fact that you have worked for the stuff doesn't mean that it is sanctified at all. Here the people were all for the program. He was a very popular king and put on a great show. 'Thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.'" (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 33, p. 53)
Mosiah 11:7 they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king
Flattery, as used in the Book of Mormon, is to teach doctrines that are pleasing to the carnal mind. The anti-Christ, Korihor, admitted, the devil...said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind (Alma 30:53). It is flattery to tell the sinner that there is no punishment for sin. It is flattery to tell the atheist that there is no God. It is flattery to tell the servant of Satan that there is no devil. These lies are pleasing to the carnal mind because they fill the heart with rationalization and self-justification. In our day, flattery is still used, both in this doctrinal sense and in the non-doctrinal sense. The next time you are impressed with the speech of a good salesman or politician, notice how many times this is done with subtle complements and carnal mind candy, or in other words, vain and flattering words.
Mosiah 11:10 fine work within the walls of the temple
Noah's motivation for ornamenting the temple was not because of his reverent feelings for the Lord but for his unending desire for extravagance. Like king Herod, who built the last great Jewish temple, his temple-building extravagance was designed to win the hearts of the people and demonstrate his riches and power. In spite of these evil intentions, the temple remains holy. For example, even though Herod was a terribly wicked man, the Savior recognized this edifice as his father's house (Jn 2:16).
Mosiah 11:14 he spent his time in riotous living
While the righteous kings, Benjamin and Mosiah, spent their time laboring with their own hands so that the people would not be laden with taxes (Mosiah 2:14), Noah is willing to glut himself on the labors of his people. In his scheme of things, the people should work so he can have the energy to drink his wine, carouse his women, and direct the building of his spacious, ornamental palace. The same debauchery was encouraged among his wicked priests. This behavior remained unchallenged until Abinadi called them to repentance, saying, Why do ye set your hearts upon riches? Why do ye commit whoredoms and spend your strength with harlots, yea, and cause this people to commit sin (Mosiah 12:29).
Mosiah 11:15 he became a wine-bibber, and also his people
Some have assumed that previous dispensations lived the Word of Wisdom as we live it today. This was not the case. Except for the priests in the temple and the order of the Nazarites (Lev 10:9; Judg 13:4), the consumption of wine or strong drink is not expressly forbidden in any Book of Mormon or Bible passage. Rather, the excessive use of alcohol is discouraged. As Paul wrote, be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess (Eph 5:18). During his ministry, the Savior drank wine with the spiritually infirm. For this, he was accused of being a wine-bibber (Matt 11:19). Many have gone to great lengths to prove that the wine that the Savior drank was new wine, or in other words, grape juice. This represents a misunderstanding of the scriptures and the use of alcohol under the Mosaic law.
None of the above discussion is meant to absolve the wicked king Noah. Certainly, he had crossed the line of prudent and righteous behavior-not only becoming a drunkard himself but encouraging the same among his people. The carnal must have been happy with his extravagant rule, endorsing alcoholic consumption and sexual promiscuity.
Mosiah 11:20 Abinadi...began to prophesy
With the possible exception of Mormon (Mormon 8:3), Abinadi is the only prophet-martyr in the Book of Mormon. As his ministry begins, we get no information about his background. Yet his teachings demonstrate an incredible understanding of the nature of God, the symbolism of the Law of Moses, and the writings of Isaiah. He is completely obedient to the Lord's commands to call the people to repentance in spite of the great risk this posed. He is one of the many, great heroes of the Book of Mormon.
Elder Cree-L Kofford
"What is there that is so special about Abinadi? Perhaps it was his total obedience as he went, presumably alone, among those whom he must have known would take his life, to deliver the word of the Lord and to cry repentance to the people. Perhaps it is the very fact that we know so little about him, or perhaps it was simply the way with which he faced the adversities which came into his life in such a straightforward, 'square-to-the world' way. Whatever the reason, Abinadi was and is special. His life, lived so long ago, still has the power to excite the mind and cause the pulse to pound." (Heroes from the Book of Mormon, pp. 69-70)
Mosiah 11:21-25 except they repent
These five verses represent a very abbreviated history of the people of Nephi-Lehi. All the events prophesied, come to pass in the next few chapters.
Mosiah 11:24 I will be slow to hear their cries
The Lord may be slow to answer our prayers for many reasons. We may be praying for that which we ought not (DC 8:10). We may be praying without faith. We may be in a period of trial for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith (Ether 12:6). Even the Prophet Joseph wondered while praying, O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed? (DC 121:1-2) For these and other reasons, the righteous often don't receive immediate answers to their prayers. For this group of Nephites, the reason is because they were slow to repent. The Lord is not very sympathetic with people who only pray for help when things get bad, In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me (DC 101:8).
Mosiah 11:25 sackcloth and ashes
To cloth oneself with sackcloth, a course and uncomfortable material, and place ashes over oneself is to publicly demonstrate self-humiliation. This is the ancient symbol of complete humility before the Lord.
Bruce R. McConkie
"The use of sackcloth and ashes anciently was also a token of humility and penitence. When righteous persons used the covering of sackcloth and the sprinkling of ashes to aid them in attaining the spiritual strength to commune with Deity, their usage was always accompanied by fasting and prayer. Daniel, for instance, prefaced the record of one of his great petitions to the throne of grace with this explanation: 'I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession.' (Dan. 9:3-4; Isa. 58:5; 1 Kings 21:17-29.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 659)
Mosiah 11:26 when Abinadi had spoken these words...they were wroth with him
"It is interesting to note the reactions of wicked people to prophets of God. The Jews in Lehi's day sought to take away his life. (See 1 Ne 1:19,20) The wicked people of Zarahemla sought to kill Samuel. (See Helaman 16.) And King Noah and his priests sought the life of Abinadi. What does the message of Nephi to his wicked brothers suggest is the reason for such behavior? 'The guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.' (1 Ne 16:2) This is why false prophets and corrupt priests so often flourish among the people. They salve the conscience, not only telling the people that there is no wickedness in their actions, but actually approving their acts as acceptable to God." (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 191)
Mosiah 11:26 the Lord deliver him out of their hands
"We are reminded of the attempt of those in Nazareth to kill the Christ and of his 'passing through the midst of them' such that they could not lay a hand upon him (Luke 4:16-32). Again in the temple 'they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come' (John 7:30). Of yet another occasion we read, 'They sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand' (John 10:39). As with Christ, so with his faithful servants: each has the protection of heaven in the accomplishment of his or her mission." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 213)
Mosiah 11:27 who is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such great affliction
To paraphrase the pride of Noah, he is saying, in effect, "who does the Lord think he is?" "Why should a king as great as I be worried about the Lord?" His attitude represents the opposite of "fear of the Lord." He has no fear but asks who is the Lord? Thus, Noah demonstrates his total irreverence and unfamiliarity of the scriptures, which state, Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name (Deut 6:13). Noah's faithlessness is reminiscent of Laman and Lemuel who asked, How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us? (1 Ne 3:31)
"Such is the dialogue of some of the devil's most distinguished servants. Noah's spirit and words are the same as some of the adversary's most nefarious notables, Cain and Pharaoh, who also challenged the Lord's anointed with the question, 'Who is the Lord?' (Moses 5:16; Exodus 5:2)." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 204)