Words of Mormon 1:17For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—
In case there is doubt about what kind of character the king was, Mormon tells us he was a holy man. What does that even mean? How does someone become holy? (Moroni 10:33). The Hebrew word for Holy is qadosh (Kah-dosh). Qadosh literally means "to be set apart for a special purpose". This is a sacred setting apart.
Becoming holy is part of the covenant of the book of Mormon that clearly the Lord is trying to get us to remember. The book of Mormon is referred to as the new covenant "even the book of Mormon" we are supposed to remember to remove this condemnation put upon us in D&C. Moroni tells us in plain English what this covenant involves. It involves becoming "holy, without spot". That's what King Benjamin had. It also involves having the blood and sins of the generation removed from the persons garments. So how did King Benjamin become holy?
The answer starts to become clear in this statement from the book The Second Comforter by Denver Snuffer foudn on page 261. "Sacred Knowledge kept sacred makes the one holding it a vessel of righteousness. There is a notion of things which are "most holy" in Judiasm. It is beyond the scope of this work to fully examine that subject. But things "most holy" have the capacity to impart to the recipient holiness. Things given int eh Temple to the one being endowed are "most holy." They can impart holiness to the one who receives them. By receiving these sacred and most holy things the recipient is made holy by holding them with her person. When they are profaned, however, and covenants are disregarded, they then condemn the person who treats the things of God lightly."
King Benjamin held sacred knowledge. He conversed with Angels, and spoke the words of God.
There is another part of this verse that is really good. The phrase "With power AND authority". They aren't the same, and it's possible for there to be one without the other. There were other prophets in the land. Our current understanding in the church doesn't really comprehend this. We've centralized priesthood power to one office holding man. But the Book of Mormon is independent of our current understanding. So a question that then comes up, is where did these other prophets get this authority from? Where die the power come from? From another man? Was it directly from God? Joseph Smith translation of the fourteenth chapter of Genesis gives this valuable insight on that question. vs 26-29.
Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire. And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch, It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
The power of God comes from God himself. He controls it. The other part of this verse I wanted to look at is the adjective used to describe the people. Stiffnecked. A stiff neck is held high and doesn't bend easily. It's high in pride and looks down at others. It feels self satisfied that they are favored of God while those around them are not.
Not only King Benjamin spoke the word of God, but the other prophets too. They all spoke the words of God and it didn't matter their political or religious title. We too should become the kind of people who are humble, meek, and of such a character we are privileged to speak God's word as given through the Holy Spirit.