Helaman 7:5 letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money
Hugh Nibley contrasts the corruption of the Nephites with the governmental corruption in the days of Isaiah:
"Naturally Isaiah takes us into the law courts: 'Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil' (Isaiah 5:20)-that being the rhetorical art, the art, as Plato tells us 'of making good seem bad and bad seem good by the use of words,' which in the ancient world came to its own in the law courts. 'Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! . . . which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!' (Isaiah 5:21,23.) This recalls how the Gadianton robbers, when they finally got control of the government and the law courts, when 'they did obtain the sole management of the government,' at once turned 'their backs upon the poor and the meek' (Helaman 6:39), 'filling the judgment-seats' with their own people (Helaman 7:4), 'letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money.' (Helaman 7:5.) They 'justify the wicked for reward,' says Isaiah (5:23), and he warns them in their own legal language that God will bring charges against the elders of Israel and 'the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses!' (Isaiah 3:14; italics added.) The stuff that is in your houses really belongs to them. 'What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor?' (Isaiah 3:15.) 'Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees [in their untouchable authority], and that write grievousness which they have prescribed' (Isaiah 10:1)- serving their own interests by the laws and regulations they make, 'to turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!' (Isaiah 10:2.)
"Everything is rigged; everybody is on the take; the harlot city is full of murderers; the princes are rebellious, companions of thieves; 'every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.' (Isaiah 1:23.) Even when right is plainly on his side, the poor man doesn't stand a chance, for 'the churl. . . deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.' (Isaiah 32:7.) 'For the vile person will. . . practise hypocrisy, and. . . utter error. . . to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.' (Isaiah 32:6.)" (Old Testament and Related Studies, p. 228)
Helaman 7:6 his heart was swollen with sorrow within his breast
Nephi is experiencing that sorrow and depression which every missionary feels at some point. He has just been rejected by those who should have known the truth. He returns to Zarahemla only to find the people in a terrible state of wickedness which has extended to the highest governmental positions. He bears a great weight on his shoulders as the prophet of the Lord charged with rectifying what seems to be a hopeless situation. Nephi and all missionaries feel this godly sorrow and can appreciate, in some degree, the emotions which the Savior felt. As He did, they feel 'despised and rejected of men...and acquainted with grief' (Isa 53:3).
"I am a sister missionary serving in my own country, Jamaica. Recently, I felt a great depression come over me. I felt alone, and I felt I had had no achievement as a missionary.
"Then I heard two sister missionaries talking about a passage of scripture where angels are sent to bear us up. I quickly turned to the Doctrine and Covenants and read this passage, 'for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up' (DC 84:88). I learned that Heavenly Father knew how depressed I felt and how important my calling was as a missionary, that I am called of God." (C. Meikle, Church News, 11/12/94)
Bruce C. Hafen
"During my own missionary days in Germany, I discovered the mission-field version of opposition-we had our share of rainstorms, dogs, sad news from home, feisty ministers, concerned relatives, and problem missionaries. But few things hurt as much as losing a good investigator-they were so rare. Once, after weeks of fruitless, frustrating tracting in a new city, we found a golden family. They were a handsome young couple with two small children. How well they had received the first three lessons. How warm they were each time we came to see them. What a contribution we knew they would make to the struggling little branch. They seemed destined to become an ideal Latter-day Saint family.
"The night the fourth discussion was scheduled, we went bouncing up the stairs to the front door. Our anticipation of this evening had sustained us through days of discouragement. We rang the bell cheerfully. There was no answer. We rang again. Still no answer. We knocked. How strange it seemed. The lights in the house were on when we arrived. We stepped back from the house, threw a little pebble at a lighted upstairs window, and called, 'It's us, the missionaries. We're here for the appointment!' The light upstairs went out. Then the other lights went out. All was dark and silent. In shocked disbelief, we looked at each other and then began to cry. As we trudged back to our bicycles, I felt real pain in my heart. 'How can they do this to us?' I said to my companion, choking back the tears. He added, 'How can they do this to themselves?' It was one of those sad and lonely missionary nights when all the pep talks about having a positive mental attitude fade away like so much salesman's chatter. At such quiet times missionaries can face stiff opposition, feeling unloved, unneeded, and personally rejected." (The Broken Heart, p. 71)
Boyd K. Packer
"I have come to believe that this is worth knowing, not only for teachers, but for everyone. If you get a little depressed during those dreary days, do not begin to think that you're psycho-something-or-other.
"For missionaries, this was well worth knowing. Occasionally a missionary told me in an interview, 'I'm not doing very well. I just seem to be depressed and discouraged.' Unless there was an unusual reason for these feelings, my answer was, 'Well, I'm glad to hear that. At least now we know that you're normal. Enjoy the feeling-it probably won't last. And the first sunny day will do wonders for it.'
"We know from the Book of Mormon that there must be opposition.
'For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.' (2 Nephi 2:11.)
"It helps a great deal if we realize that there is a certain healthy element in getting the blues occasionally. It is quite in order to schedule a good, discouraging, depressing day every now and again just for contrast." (Teach Ye Diligently, p. 101-2)
Helaman 7:9 I am consigned that these are my days
Neal A. Maxwell
"Like Alma, who wished for a trumpet-like voice of an angel (see Alma 29:1), we too need to understand our motivations and limitations. Even so, let us use well the season in which we serve. Tolkein put it eloquently:
'Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.'
"Nephi wished, nostalgically, he'd lived in a different time, yet finally concluded, 'But behold, I am consigned that these are my days' (Helaman 7:9). Like Alma, he no doubt realized that he should not 'desire more than to perform the work to which [he had] been called' (Alma 29:6). Faith in God includes faith in His wisdom in placing us in our particular time and place, 'those years wherein we are set.'" (That Ye May Believe, p. 156)
Helaman 7:16 how could you have given way to the enticing of him who is seeking to hurl away your souls
The prophetic perspective is much different than the sinner's. Nephi views their actions as a direct result of being seduced, enticed, and duped by the evil one. The sinner never sees things quite this way. Would the Nephites have admitted to being seduced, enticed, or duped? Rather, they would have declared that their actions were the result of their own minds, their independent thoughts, and their willful choices. This is all according to Satan's plan. He teaches that he does not exist, that God does not influence man, and that there is no consequence to sin. It is the great lie of secularism.
The prophets, on the other hand, have greater spiritual insight. They are able to recognize God's hand in all things. Conversely, they have a greater ability to recognize Satan's hand in encouraging every sinful act. If all good has a common source, so does all evil, and the prophets know it.
Helaman 7:24 Promises to the Lamanites
Nephi, later, expounds on this same theme-that the Nephites should have known better, but the Lamanites will not be held to the same standard because they did not have a constant supply of spiritual knowledge and prophetic warnings. Nephi and Alma declared as follows:
'Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them.
And this is according to the prophecy, that they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep.
Therefore I say unto you, it shall be better for them than for you except ye repent.
For behold, had the mighty works been shown unto them which have been shown unto you, yea, unto them who have dwindled in unbelief because of the traditions of their fathers, ye can see of yourselves that they never would again have dwindled in unbelief.
Therefore, saith the Lord: I will not utterly destroy them, but I will cause that in the day of my wisdom they shall return again unto me, saith the Lord.' (Helaman 15:12-16)
'For there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites; for it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them and prolong their existence in the land...
'And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.' (Alma 9:16, 23)
Helaman 7:29 I know that these things are true because the Lord God has made them known unto me
Nephi's testimony is not merely a personal opinion. He is not guessing about what the Nephites are doing in secret. Nor is his testimony his own fabrication. His testimony is of the Lord. This is the kind of witness and testimony which is irrefutable. We would do well to follow his example in our own testimonies by acknowledging the source of spiritual knowledge. This will always strengthen the spirit and validity of the witness.
"I felt as though I was not qualified to stand before the people, and tell them that the Book of Mormon was a divine revelation, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, unless I had a stronger testimony than that afforded by ancient prophets. However great my assurance might be, it seemed to me, that to know for myself, it required a witness independent of the testimony of others. I sought for this witness. I did not receive it immediately, but when the Lord saw the integrity of my heart and the anxiety of my mind--when He saw that I was willing to travel hundreds of miles for the sake of learning the principles of the truth, He gave me a testimony for myself, which conferred upon me the most perfect knowledge that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that this book, called the Book of Mormon, was in reality a Divine revelation, and that God had once more, in reality, spoken to the human family. What joy this knowledge gave me! No language that I am acquainted with could describe the sensations I experienced when I received a knowledge from Heaven of the truth of this work." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 85)
Joseph F. Smith
"I received a testimony for myself from the Lord of this work, and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God before I ever saw him, while I resided in the state of New York, given in answer to prayer. I knew him in his lifetime and know him to have been a great, true man, and a servant of God." (Collected Discourses 1886-1898, ed. by Brian Stuy, vol. 5, Dec. 23, 1894)