The story of King Benjamin is central to the narrative of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. It is very much a second beginning to the book, coming as it does after the collapse of the nation at the end of the first portion. Benjamin’s renewal comes at a cost: personal prides and vanities.
In his speech to his people in Mosiah 2, Benjamin emphasizes the equality of every person in his nation and that he labored as their king. He worked with his own hands that he would not have to burden his people with taxes. Unlike other kings had done, he was not going to enrich himself from the position.
He states, “Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.” This is a theme that he repeats in his speech. Service to others is service to God. Service to God is service to others. He reflects this need to serve towards his people: “Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?”
He goes on to speak of both being indebted to God and being paid by God – as king, the people owed Benjamin nothing, but all owed God everything. As king, he served all his people and God provided blessings because of their righteousness.
The equality of the gathering indicated the extent of the righteousness. Instead of remarking on how the gathering was attended by nobles and other people with lofty titles, every family gathered in their tents, equally on the ground. If it was, as some scholars speculate, part of a Sukkot observance, all were equal before God in that sacred observance.
To be a righteous people, we must be an equal people. And, as will be brought out in the story of King Noah, an equal people requires a just government.