This chapter talks about the struggle between the king-men and the free-men. I am amazed at how people, when they don't get their way, are so quick to violence. And I am also amazed that these people were so anxious to have a king. This isn't the first time this has happened in the Book of Mormon. In Nephi's time the people insisted on keeping Nephi's descendants as a king. The people in King Mosiah's time were so eager for Aaron to be king that Mosiah had to warn them against forcing someone to be king. Why do people want a king so much? Sure, the first one might be great, but you never know what things will be like in several generations. My husband studies economics and he told me once that in his class, they discussed how the most efficient type of government is an all-knowing, benevolent dictator, followed by a free market-style government. (This was in reference to allocating scarce resources, but I am stealing it for my own purposes). Well, since the only all-knowing, benevolent dictator isn't going to be ruling on earth for a little while, I'd rather share the power among many people rather than put it in the hands of a few.
It even says that the people in support of having a king were those of "high birth", who wanted a king because they wanted the power that would fall upon them. It all comes back to greed and pride, doesn't it? Even when the voice of the people supported Pahoran, these king-men didn't stop there. When Amalickiah comes marching towards the borders with his armies of Lamanites, the king-men refuse to defend their country. This of course infuriates Moroni, who gets permission to compell these men to fight or to be killed. This seems a little extreme in the days of conscientous objectors, but Moroni understood something crucial--we can't fight the forces of the enemy that strike from the outside if we aren't fortified on the inside. To me, this applies both to us personally and in a more broader sense, to our homes and families. If our homes are filled with contention and don't have the Spirit, how can we withstand the temptations and trials that come our way?
The last part of this chapter talks about Teancum, who was a brave commander of the Nephites who took things into his own hands. He snuck into the Lamanite camp and personally killed Amalickiah, which he probably hoped would end the war. Unfortunately Amalickiah's brother takes over in the next chapter, but I think Teancum is another real Book of Mormon hero and seems to have been both a great warrior and a very righteous man.