Laman and Lemuel have just been visited by an angel, who has commanded them to stop beating Nephi and Sam, and to listen to the things Nephi is telling them, for someday Nephi will be a ruler over them. As we head into chapter four, Nephi is telling his brothers why he feels it is so important for them to honor their father’s wishes in obtaining the brass plates from Laban.
1. And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?
2. Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.
3. Now behold ye know that this is true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.
Laman and Lemuel weren’t present when the Lord helped Moses, of course, and they may have regarded the story as just that—a story—but they had seen the angel for themselves and couldn’t deny that. So, with great reluctance, they do as Nephi asks.
4. Now when I had spoken these words, they were yet wroth, and did still continue to murmur; nevertheless they did follow me up until we came without the walls of Jerusalem.
5. And it was by night; and I caused that they should hide themselves without the walls. And after they had hid themselves, I, Nephi, crept into the city and went forth towards the house of Laban.
6. And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
Being the most spiritually attuned person in the bunch, Nephi knows that he must go in and do this alone. He doesn’t have any idea what he’s about to do, but he knows that the Lord will go with him and give him instructions as he goes along. This is a huge showing of faith on Nephi’s part, but he’s already conversed with the Lord and seen Him in the past, and he knows of a surety that God is real. He has no reason to doubt that heavenly help will be forthcoming.
7. Nevertheless I went forth, and as I came near unto the house of Laban I beheld a man, and he had fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine.
8. And when I came to him I found that it was Laban.
Had Laban been out celebrating his ill-gotten gain? It makes one wonder . . .
9. And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.
10. And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.
This commandment from the Lord must have been confusing to Nephi. He’s only known the Lord to be compassionate and loving, and yet, to be commanded to kill someone? Not only has Nephi never killed anyone before, this commandment must have caught him off guard by its very nature.
11. And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.
Nephi can see the reasons why the death of Laban would be advantageous, but he still hesitates. Keep in mind, he’s probably about sixteen at this time, and while he is fully grown, he’s still going to have the emotional insecurities of a sixteen-year-old.
We’ll continue this portion tomorrow, as the next excerpt is fairly lengthy.
From today’s reading: Have you ever been given a commandment that made no sense to you? At what point did it make sense?