3 Now it came to pass that Gideon went forth and stood before the king, and said unto him: Now O king, thou hast hitherto hearkened unto my words many times when we have been contending with our brethren, the Lamanites.
4 And now O king, if thou hast not found me to be an unprofitable servant, or if thou hast hitherto listened to my words in any degree, and they have been of service to thee, even so I desire that thou wouldst listen to my words at this time, and I will be thy servant and deliver this people out of bondage.
9 And it came to pass that the king hearkened unto the words of Gideon.
After the Lamanites conquered the people of King Noah, they imposed a tax on them of “one half of all they possessed,” and they placed “guards round about the land,… that they might not depart into the wilderness” (Mosiah 19:22, 28). Noah’s son Limhi became king, and he chose as his captain a man who had led a rebellion against his father: Gideon.
We don’t know a lot about Gideon, but Mormon highlights him just enough so that we get a sense of his character:
- During the rebellion against King Noah, Gideon fought with the king on the king’s tower. He was about to overpower him when the king saw the armies of the Lamanites approaching and pled for his life so that he could save his people. Mormon tells us that Noah wasn’t so concerned about his people as he was about his own life, but Gideon let him go anyway (Mosiah 19:4-8).
- Shortly after the Lamanites’ victory, some of their daughters were kidnapped. The Lamanite king was furious and his armies attacked the Nephites again. King Limhi ordered a search of every Nephite home to find out who had done this. But Gideon, recognizing that the Nephites had already been humiliated enough, suggested to the king that it was unlikely that his people had committed this crime. It was far more likely that the priests of King Noah, who were hiding in the wilderness, had kidnapped these young Lamanite women. The king followed Gideon’s advice, called off the search, and explained the situation to the king of the Lamanites, who pacified his armies and ended the attack (Mosiah 20:17-26).
- After a group of men led by Ammon arrived from Zarahemla, Limhi wanted to return to their homeland. He asked his people to think of ways they could escape their Lamanite captors and travel to their homeland. Gideon proposed a plan: Give the Lamanites strong wine as a gift. When they are drunk, in the middle of the night, leave the city en masse and travel as quickly as possible to Zarahemla. As the passage above indicates, the king liked Gideon’s plan. The people acted upon it, and it worked.
- Years later, when Gideon was an old man, he met a critic of the church who was gaining significant notoriety. Gideon “withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God.” The man became angry and drew his sword. They fought, and Gideon was killed (Alma 1:7-9).
- A city, a valley, and a land were named after Gideon (Alma 6:7-8, Alma 8:1, Alma 17:1, Alma 30:21, 30, Alma 61:5, Alma 62:3-4, 6, Helaman 13:15).
The main impression I get from these brief stories about Gideon is that he was more concerned about the welfare of his people than about his own life, and that he cared more about doing the right thing than about getting credit for it. He operated behind the scenes. He didn’t try to draw attention to himself, but he did jump into action when something needed to be done. He was a supportive servant to Limhi, a valiant defender of his people, and a courageous champion of the truth.
Today, I will follow the example of Gideon. I will be proactive and bold in standing up for the rights of the people around me. I will speak up when my words can make a difference. I will be less concerned about my own well-being than about doing what is right and blessing the lives of the people I love.