Alma 18:1 - 18:5
Alma 18:1 And it came to pass that king Lamoni caused that his servants should stand forth and testify to all the things which they had seen concerning the matter.
All of the servants of Lamoni gave their accounts of the events surrounding the protection of the king’s herds by Ammon.
Alma 18:2 And when they had all testified to the things which they had seen, and he had learned of the faithfulness of Ammon in preserving his flocks, and also of his great power in contending against those who sought to slay him, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Surely, this is more than a man. Behold, is not this the Great Spirit who doth send such great punishments upon this people, because of their murders?
As the king heard the accounts of his servants about the fearlessness of Ammon in preserving his livestock and the prowess of Ammon when going up against the bad guys at the waters of Sebus, Lamoni began to question his actions in punishing his servants who allowed his flocks to be scattered in the past. Lamoni was now wondering if Ammon was the Great Spirit who was now going to starting punishing the Lamanites for their many crimes and murders of the past.
Why did Lamoni react this way? I can remember thinking when seeing war documentaries that it was a natural eventuality to the evilness of the people fighting in these conflicts. When people are evil or allow evil to exist in their mist, conflict and contention in the community is the natural result. Lamoni must have thought this as Ammon was causing the king to question his actions in relation to his servants.
Alma 18:3 And they answered the king, and said: Whether he be the Great Spirit or a man, we know not; but this much we do know, that he cannot be slain by the enemies of the king; 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. And now, O king, we do not believe that a man has such great power, for we know he cannot be slain.
The servants did not know what Ammon was, Great Spirit or what, they only knew he could not be killed neither could anyone scatter the king’s flocks as long as he was around. They could only say that Ammon must be a friend of the king to step in to protect his livestock. They could only speculate that he had greater power than any man they knew of because he could not be killed.
Alma 18:4 And now, when the king heard these words, he said unto them: Now I know that it is the Great Spirit; and he has come down at this time to preserve your lives, that I might not slay you as I did your brethren. Now this is the Great Spirit of whom our fathers have spoken.
The king came to the conclusion that Ammon had to be the Great Spirit because He had come down to preserve the lives of the servants who Lamoni had ordered executed in the past if they lost his herds. Lamoni had made the connection with Ammon’s actions with the traditions among the Lamanites about the Great Spirit.
I wonder if they idea of a savior as preached in Christianity had been corrupted among the Lamanites to mean a warrior type savior to come to them? They certainly had no scriptures to tell them what the mission of the Savior of the world was actually going to do, but they probably had many traditions about the nature of God. It would not be surprising that they would be about warrior type gods.
Alma 18:5 Now this was the tradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father, that there was a Great Spirit. Notwithstanding they believed in a Great Spirit, they supposed that whatsoever they did was right; nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong in slaying his servants;
The idea of a Great Spirit was handed down from Lamoni’s father, but it made no judgment on their actions as the Lamanites supposed they could do what they wanted without fear of reprisals from this Great Spirit. Nevertheless, Lamoni began to wonder if he had done something wrong and the Great Spirit was now among them to bring justice on their heads.
Lamoni might have wonder too, why had not destruction had not come upon his house for his actions instead of the Great Spirit preserving the lives of his servants? He may have thought the Great Spirit was here to prick his conscience until the Great Spirit took further action against him.