Helaman 13

It’s been a long while since I’ve written one of these, and I feel that I’d like to do better at it. To recap, this is part of a series generated by my personal reading of the Book of Mormon, in which I happen to comment on one or two (or occasionally more) things that leapt out at me during my reading. It doesn’t aim to be an exhaustive or comprehensive examination of the chapter (the former I’d argue would likely be impossible), but simply commenting on something that struck me during my reading.

While reading Helaman 13 this morning, several points of varying importance came to mind:

  1. Firstly, I was curious about the fact that Samuel the Lamanite mentions several times (Alma 13:5, 9) that the Nephites face destruction in under “four hundred years”. Alma the younger has already mentioned the figure in Alma 45:10, although that is privately to his son Helaman. I am curious as to whether Samuel’s audience dismissed his remarks because it all sounds so far away. Of course, Samuel is also discussing more imminent events (and gives more imminent dates for those in the next chapter), but I guess many people’s natural response is to not worry about what will happen in four hundred years.
  2. One line that struck: “nothing can save this people save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Helaman 13:6). I think this is true (and think it is being used here) both individually and collectively. But, individually and collectively, we often have a tendency to look towards different sources of salvation, whether it be the “right” political leaders, wealth, our own powers or intellect or whatever. In an ultimate sense, however, we all need to depend upon those two principles.
  3. Overall the chapter spends a lot of time talking about wealth, and it becoming “slippery”, so that the people are unable to find or keep it. I was wondering about why the focus on this, and think that part of the reason is the relationship people have with their riches here is emblematic of several serious sins. On one hand, one major sin is that the people do not remember and thank God for their material blessings, instead becoming prideful (Helaman 13:22); ingratitude may be a far more serious sin then we realise (see D&C 59, in which thanking God is specifically listed amongst the commandments given in vv. 5-13, and “confess[ing] not his hand in all things” is described as invoking God’s wrath in v. 21). On the other hand, the people trust in their riches (rather than God) and depend on them to preserve them from their poverty (Helaman 13:31-32), or to work or defend themselves (the mention of tools and weapons in particular in v. 34). The treasures becoming slippery teaches both that He who gave them can take them away, and that such material things are not dependable and to be trusted in.
  4. One to tag onto the list of “scary passages”, Helaman 13:37-38 is a particularly imposing passage:

Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And this shall be your language in those days.
But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.

 

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1 Nephi 2

And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.

1 Nephi 2:7

Lehi had to flee into the wilderness because the people were trying to kill him, he had to leave behind all his property and riches, and we subsequently learn that his family did not believe him (and seem to have been most unconcerned about any death threats). Yet the first thing Lehi does when he reaches a stopping point is to build an altar, make an offering and give thanks to the Lord!

He’s a better man than I am!

Another Psalm…

My Lord and my God,
thy mercies are above all,
thy blessings more than I can count.
I felt alone,
I felt in darkness,
I was struck
and my heart lay wounded,
assailed by bitter memories.

Yet thou hast blessed me,
and lifted me up!
Though I felt fallen,
thou hast pushed me up!

For thou hast shown me marvellous things,
things too great for me to consider.
Thou hast been merciful unto me,
and taught me in the precincts of thy holy house,
even hidden things at which I marvel.
How can I thank thee enough?
How can I praise thee for thy mighty works?

Thou hast seen thy lowly servant in his trials,
and given him knowledge.
Thou hast blessed me,
and comforted my soul.
Thou hast consoled me with precious truths
and not left me to wander by the pools of melancholy.

My heart still aches,
and my wounds are sore,
but I know that thou wilt bind them up,
that thou wilt heal me and cause me to rejoice.
For I did not err or fail in these things,
and thou guidest my feet.
Yea, I will rejoice, My Lord,
at the grace that thou hast poured upon me,
and I know that thou art with me.

My heart cannot contain,
nor can my words express,
my joy and gratitude at thy loving mercy.
I sorrowed,
yet now I rejoice.
I cried in despair,
yet now I sing in exultation!

For who can gainsay the word of the Lord,
or argue with his secret counsel?
He that is wonderful
has shown me wonderful things!
He has had compassion
and comforted me,
and raised the cup of healing to my lips.

And though I still hurt,
I know that thou has blessed me.
Thou wilt heal me and guide me,
and will lift me up.
I thank thee and praise thee.
Good are thy ways, O Lord,
though they defy the understanding of man.
Bless me, I pray,
as thou hast done.
Make me to serve thee,
and grant me the grace to perform all thy will,
and bless me with all that thou hast promised,
in thy due time and according to thy will.