Helaman 13

Helaman 13:2 Samuel, a Lamanite

"The condition of society in the days of Samuel was somewhat peculiar (6 B.C.). The Nephites and the Lamanites had, in so far as righteousness was concerned, to a great extent, changed places...The majority of the Lamanites...walked circumspectly before God; they were full of faith and integrity, were zealous in the work of converting their fellows, and in keeping the commandments of God according to the Law of Moses.

"Such was the condition of affairs when the Lamanite prophet, Samuel, appeared among the citizens of Zarahemla...[After he prophesied in Zarahemla], the voice of Samuel was never heard again among the people of Nephi, but in later years, Jesus, Nephi, Mormon, and others quoted his prophecies or referred to his testimony.

"Nearly all the events, great and glorious, terrible and heart-rending, of which Samuel prophesied were fulfilled before the inspired historians of the Book of Mormon sealed up the Record. Prominent among these predictions were the signs that should occur at the advent of our Savior; the two days and a night of continued light and the appearance of a new star in the heavens that should mark His birth at Bethlehem. He even told the exact year when these things should take place; also he told of the convulsions, the storms, the earthquakes that should attend His crucifixion, and the resurrection of many of the Saints that would follow His own resurrection. He also foretold, with great clearness and minuteness, that in subsequent years, the Nephites should grow in iniquity and because of their wickedness, their treasures, their tools, their swords, etc., should become slippery, and that within four hundred years the Nephite race should be destroyed. To the fulfillment of these predictions, Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni, bear record." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 5, p. 304-6)

Helaman 13:4 they would not suffer that he should enter...therefore he went and got upon the wall

Elder Andrew W. Petersen

"There are daily walls to climb in our own lives. They present themselves most often as invitations for growth: the daily challenges of parenting, a difficult assignment at work, a new calling in the Church, a sacrament meeting or stake conference talk to present, a lesson to be given in priesthood meeting or Relief Society

"I well remember my first morning of tracting as a new missionary in Cordoba, Argentina. My senior companion knocked on the first door and presented, what seemed to me, a very impressive door approach in fluent Spanish. The next door was mine! The walls of Zarahemla could not have seemed any higher than the short distance from the sidewalk to the front door. In spite of my limited Spanish, my faith, prayers, and a desire to learn and obey sustained me as I 'climbed upon my wall' that morning.

"When temptations present themselves, as surely they do, we must climb upon the daily walls of life and learn to say no." (Heroes From The Book of Mormon, p. 160-1)

Helaman 13:4 prophesied...whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart

As with Samuel, the Lord can fill the empty mouth as promised, 'lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say' (DC 100:5-6). There are many saints who have not had this sort of experience. They may wonder what is it like to have the Lord fill their hearts so fully that 'whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture' (DC 68:4). Significantly, the Lord doesn't speak to our minds but rather speaks to our hearts. This is according to the voice of the Spirit which is more often felt than heard. Joseph Smith explained what this feels like.

Joseph Smith

"...the spirit of revelation [is] when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 151)

Helaman 13:13 if it were not for the righteous who are in this great city...I would cause that fire should...destroy it

Notably, Zarahemla was destroyed by fire just prior to the appearance of the Savior, 'And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land. And the city of Zarahemla did take fire' (3 Ne 8:7-8; 9:3).

Richard L. Evans

"I do not know what degree of repentance would be required of us to avert some of the things that might be imminent or at least remote possibilities. You recall Abraham's bargaining concerning the destruction of Sodom, how he pleaded that the city would be spared if there were fifty righteous souls, then forty-five, and so on down to ten. I doubt that we shall realize terms as favorable as Abraham was able to secure for Sodom. Apparently he was an astute bargainer, but the ten weren't found, and Sodom wasn't saved. I don't know that ten of a city would be enough to save us today, but I am sure that the degree of our repentance will be taken into consideration. And I earnestly hope and pray that we may give full repentance, and others with us, to the end that our Father in heaven in his mercy and in his patience and in his love for his children, which he has declared, and in whose immortality and eternal life he has stated his earnest interest, will revise his timetables, whatever they may be, according to the degree of our repentance. If he would agree to save a city for ten repentant souls, think what he would do for a whole nation or people who repented!" (Conference Report, Apr. 1950, p. 104)

Helaman 13:17-20 a curse shall come upon the land

Prior to Samuel's prophecy, the Nephites were already under a curse. They had been cut off from the presence of the Lord according to the famous promise, 'Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence' (2 Ne 1:20). Furthermore, because of pride, they had been cursed with the violence of the sword at the hands of the Gadianton robbers instead of the Lamanites who had become righteous. Still they persisted in their pride. Therefore, the Lord promised them another curse. The wisdom and justice of this last curse is self-evident. 

For their wicked greediness and love of money, the Lord promises them a punishment worse than poverty. At least when you're poor, you know you don't have any money. Imagine how frustrated the money grubbing Nephites must have been to return to the site of their hidden treasure only to find it gone! They must have exclaimed, "I know I left it here someplace!" Samuel prophesied that this curse would help them remember, 'then shall ye lament, and say: O that I had repented...then [our riches] would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us' (v. 32-3). Hugh Nibley described their misery, "it ends in utter frustration and total insecurity as morals and the market collapse together and the baffled experts surrender. " (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 349) Their pain must have been exquisite as their most beloved possessions became inextricably unattainable (see Mormon 1:18, see also commentary for Helaman 12:18-19).

Helaman 13:19 For I will, saith the Lord, that they shall hide up their treasures unto me

Hugh Nibley

"What is con-secrated is then made sacred, withdrawn from the ordinary economy, dedicated to a particular purpose and to that purpose only. It can never be recalled or used for any other purpose without being de-secrated. A striking passage in Helaman brings this out while providing a powerful bit of evidence for the bona fides of the Book of Mormon. Samuel the Lamanite tells the people that their riches will be cursed because they have set their hearts upon them; and that when they flee before their enemies and bury their treasures, if they bury them not unto the Lord, they will become slippery and can never be found again. In the Copper Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls we learn that when the Jews fled from Jerusalem before their enemies, they also buried their treasures; and they also buried them up unto the Lord so that they could never again be used in profane negotiations. All such buried treasures had to be used for the temple and nothing else. It would be hard to find a more convincing parallel. It is a reminder that when I consecrate, it cannot be with limitations or qualifications." (Approaching Zion, p. 389)

Helaman 13:22 ye do not remember the Lord...but ye do always remember your riches

Hugh Nibley

"The Prophet Samuel the Lamanite sets forth the interesting rule that when 'the Economy' becomes the main and engrossing concern of a society--or in the routine Book of Mormon phrase, when 'they begin to set their hearts upon their riches'--the economy will self-destruct. This is how he puts it: 'Ye do always remember your riches; . . . your hearts are not drawn out unto the Lord, but they do swell with great pride, . . . envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions and murders, and all manner of iniquities' (Helaman 13:22). Note well the sequence of folly: first we are well pleased with ourselves because of our wealth, then comes the game of status and prestige, leading to competitive maneuvers, hatred, and dirty tricks, and finally the ultimate solution. Where wealth guarantees respectability, principles melt away as the criminal element rises to the top: 'For this cause hath the Lord God caused that a curse should come upon the land, and also upon your riches' (Helaman 13:23)." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 349)

Elder Andrew J. Petersen

"Samuel the Lamanite strongly reminded the Nephites that they had become casual and neglectful in living basic principles of the gospel. Living prophets of our dispensation have likewise reminded us to be firm and steady in the faith (see Helaman 6:1).

"Samuel said, 'Ye do not remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath blessed you' (Helaman 13:22). President John Taylor said, 'Do you have prayers in your family? ...  And when you do, do you go through the operation like the grinding of a piece of machinery, or do you bow in meekness and with a sincere desire to seek the blessing of God upon you and your household? That is the way that we ought to do, and cultivate a spirit of devotion and trust in God, dedicating ourselves to him, and seeking his blessings.' (The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1943], p. 284.)

"Samuel said, 'Ye do always remember your riches' (Helaman 13:22). President Marion G. Romney said, 'Tithing is a debt which everyone owes to the Lord for his use of the things that the Lord has made and given to him to use. It is a debt just as literally as the grocery bill, or a light bill, or any other duly incurred obligation. As a matter of fact, the Lord, to whom one owes tithing, is in a position of a preferred creditor. If there is not enough to pay all creditors, he should be paid first. Now I am sure you will have a little shock at that, but that is the truth. Other creditors of tithe-payers, however, need to have no cause to worry, for the Lord always blesses the person who has faith enough to pay his tithing so that his ability to pay his other creditors is not thereby reduced.' (Marion G. Romney, The Blessings of an Honest Tithe, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, Utah, 5 November 1968], p. 4.)" (Heroes From The Book of Mormon, p. 164-5)

Helaman 13:25 if our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets

Remarkably, it is often the wicked who are the most self-righteous. The Savior had the same problem that Samuel did. His rebuke was as follows,

   'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous,

   And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

   Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

   Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers (in consenting to the crucifixion of Christ).

   Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?' (Matt 23:29-33).

Spencer W. Kimball

"...many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday's prophets and mentally stone the living ones." (Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 391)

Bruce R. McConkie

"There is, of course, no salvation in believing in a dead prophet and stopping there. A living prophet must be found, first, to interpret God's word in terms of today, and, then, to serve as the legal administrator who can perform God's ordinances so as to make them binding on earth and in heaven.

"Nothing ever happens on earth as important as the sending of prophets among men. Their messages involve the very purpose of life and creation. And there is nothing more important in the lives of mortals than to determine whether those claiming to represent Deity do in fact hold divine authority and have a legal commission to speak for him.

"What pure, unadulterated hypocrisy it is for those who reject the living prophets to say: 'If we had lived in former days, we would have accepted the prophets whom others rejected.' Prophets are prophets, truth is truth, and rebellion is rebellion. The spirit which leads men to fight God in one age is the same that operates in every age. Those who reject the Lord's anointed today would have done so anciently. Compare Luke 16:27-31." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, p. 621-2)

Spencer W. Kimball

"You folk in the Church and out of the Church heard a prophet of God bear testimony that this was the only true and living Church upon the earth. Did you listen, or do you also build sepulchres for the dead prophets and tombs for those who have passed away long ago and disregard the living ones? I bear witness to you that the Prophet of God who bore testimony to you on Friday morning is the recognized head of God's kingdom here upon this earth, and you would do well to listen and to accept it in your hearts." (Conference Report, Oct. 1949, p. 123)

Helaman 13:27 do whatsoever your heart desireth

Spencer W. Kimball

"Certainly, some blame (for the recent changes in morals) can be attached to the voices from lecture platforms, editorial rooms, or broadcasting stands, and even from the pulpit.

"Such voices may have to answer for their perpetuating falsehood and their failure to give true leadership in combating evil.... From among the discordant voices we are shocked at those of many priests who encourage the defilement of men and wink at the eroding trends and who deny the omniscience of God.  Certainly these men should be holding firm, yet some yield to popular clamor.

"I give some quotes from the press: 'Many churchmen are reluctant to give a definite yes or no to marijuana.'...

"Other religious leaders are saying: '...precise rules of Christian conduct should not necessarily apply to problems of sexuality.'

"Only this month the press quoted the retired head of a populous church proposing 'revival of old-style betrothals which would permit young unmarried couples to sleep together with the church's blessing,' and 'it would not be regarded in the moral sense as fornication.'" (Conference Report, Apr. 1971)

Helaman 13:27-28 if a man...say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet...because he speaketh flattering words

Flattery, as used in the Book of Mormon, is to teach doctrines that are pleasing to the carnal mind. Another anti-Christ, Korihor, admitted, the devil...said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind (Alma 30:53). It is flattery to tell the sinner that there is no punishment for sin. It is flattery to tell the atheist that there is no God. It is flattery to tell the servant of Satan that there is no devil. These lies are pleasing to the carnal mind because they fill the heart with rationalization and self-justification. In our day, flattery is still used, both in this doctrinal sense and in the non-doctrinal sense. The next time you are impressed with the speech of a good salesman or politician, notice how many times this is done with subtle compliments and carnal mind candy.

American politics are particularly characterized by this principle. To succeed, you have to tell the people what they want to hear. Such flattery, when replaced by honesty and truth, can spell political disaster. An example can be found in the life of then Apostle, Ezra Taft Benson. While a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he simultaneously served in the Eisenhower cabinet as the secretary of Agriculture. Elder Benson, not schooled in the flattery of American politics, began to teach that subsidies to farmers should not be increased. He stated, "No real American wants to be subsidized," and "It just isn't good for government to do for the people what they can and should do for themselves." (Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography, pp. 272-4)

His forthright, principled policies started a political firestorm. Congressmen, in particular, found his policies to be atrocious. Some farmers agreed. Elder Benson just didn't behave like other politicians, he didn't speak flattering words like he was supposed to. A Life magazine editorial said, "Benson is no politician, which may mean he is qualifying for higher honors." (Ibid, p. 273) A senator who had previously been antagonistic, later introduced Elder Benson to his home state, saying, "My friends, today you're going to hear something you won't like, but it will be good for you because it's the truth." (Ibid, p. 279) Eventually, the truth did prevail. Although many had predicted his early resignation, Elder Benson finished his appointed term having weathered the storm of controversy.

The principle, however, is so accurately depicted in the Book of Mormon, 'if a prophet come among you...ye are angry with him' (v. 26). Alternatively, 'if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity...ye will receive him.' Unlike Elder Benson's strait and narrow course, the unscrupulous path to popularity is traveled with flattering footsteps.

Prophets, bishops, and stake presidents are also sometimes rejected for teaching the truth. Sometimes, even in the church, we would much rather hear 'that all is well.'

Dallin H. Oaks

"Church leaders need...consideration, since the responsibilities of Church leadership include the correction of others. That function is not popular. As the Lamanite prophet Samuel taught, when a prophet comes among us and speaks of our iniquities, we are made angry. We call him a false prophet and 'cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him.' (See Hel. 13:26.) But if a man comes among us and speaks flattering words about our behavior and tells us that it is all right to 'walk after the pride of [our] own hearts ... and do whatsoever [our] heart desire[s],' 'we will not find fault with him.' " (See Hel. 13:27, 28.) We will call him a prophet and reward him.

"I have given the following counsel to Church members-those who have committed themselves by upraised hands to sustain their church leaders:

"Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who 'speak evil of dignities.' (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord's anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947, 'When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.' (In Conference Report, Apr. 1947, p. 24.)" (Dallin H. Oaks, "Criticism," Ensign, Feb. 1987, 68)

Harold B. Lee

"You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory.' (DC 21:6)" (Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 152)

Helaman 13:38 ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late

Spencer W. Kimball

"As we have seen, one can wait too long to repent. Many of the Nephites did. Of these, Samuel the Lamanite said:

'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.' (Hel. 13:38. Italics added.)

"Again, observe the emphasis in the words italicized. And let us not suppose that in calling people to repentance the prophets are concerned only with the more grievous sins such as murder, adultery, stealing, and so on, nor only with those persons who have not accepted the gospel ordinances. All transgressions must be cleansed, all weaknesses must be overcome, before a person can attain perfection and godhood. Accordingly the intent of this book is to stress the vital importance of each of us transforming his life through repentance and forgiveness. Future chapters will deal with the various aspects of this subject in greater detail.

"Oliver Wendell Holmes said: 'Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.' Tagore expressed a similar thought in these words: 'I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.'

"My plea therefore is this: Let us get our instruments tightly strung and our melodies sweetly sung. Let us not die with our music still in us. Let us rather use this precious mortal probation to move confidently and gloriously upward toward the eternal life which God our Father gives to those who keep his commandments." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 16-7)

Henry B. Eyring

"Upon hearing President Kimball's description of the effort repentance requires, those who are now in serious sin will have a thought delivered to their minds that goes something like this: 'Well, if it is that difficult to repent, I might as well go on in sin. Later, when I need forgiveness, I'll just go through that once.'

"That is so unwise. Let me tell you why. First, people who postpone repentance may run out of time. And second, they will find more misery in more sin, not the happiness they hope for but can't find. Remember the warning from Samuel the Lamanite: (Helaman 13:38)." (To Draw Closer to God, p. 65)

Ezra Taft Benson

"Some people intend to make a decision and then never get around to it...They intend to paint the barn, to fix the fence, to haul away that old machinery or remove that old shed, but the time of decision just never arrives.

"Some of us face a similar situation in our personal lives...We intend to pay a full tithing, to begin keeping the Word of Wisdom, to make our initial home teaching visits early in the month. However, without actual decision followed by implementation, the weeks and months go by and nothing is accomplished. We could drift into eternity on these kinds of good intentions. The Lord apparently sensed this weakness in His children, for He said: 'Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.' (DC 64:25)" (God, Family, Country, p. 389.)

Richard L. Evans

"It sometimes seems that we live as if we wonder when life is going to begin. It isn't always clear just what we are waiting for, but some of us sometimes persist in waiting so long that life slips by-finding us still waiting for something that has been going on all the time. ... This is the life in which the work of this life is to be done. Today is as much a part of eternity as any day a thousand years ago or as will be any day a thousand years hence. This is it, whether we are thrilled or disappointed, busy or bored! This is life, and it is passing." (Improvement Era, Jan. 1967, p. 65.)

Helaman 13:38 ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity

See Commentary for Alma 41:10.

Neal A. Maxwell

"Henry Fairlie has written perceptively in his book The Seven Deadly Sins Today concerning how 'the lustful person will usually be found to have a terrible hollowness at the center of his life' and about 'the desert he has made of himself and his life."' (Washington, D.C.: New Republic Books, 1978, p. 187.) 'Lust,' wrote Fairlie, 'is not interested in its partners, but only in the gratification of its own craving. ... Lust dies at the next dawn, and when it returns in the evening, to search where it may, it is with its own past erased.' (Ibid., p. 175.)

"Those so drained by sensuality do, in fact, seek to compensate for their loneliness by sensations. However, in the arithmetic of appetite, anything multiplied by zero still totals zero! But the senseless search goes on, just as Samuel the Lamanite bemoaned, 'for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain ... for happiness in doing iniquity.' (Hel. 13:38; see also Alma 41:10; Morm. 2:13.)

"So it is that sexual immorality finally causes the isolation of the individual from God, from others, and, yes, even from oneself!

"So it is that the laughter of the world is merely loneliness pathetically trying to reassure itself. Immorality is not the verification of one's existence; instead, it is the shrinking of one's significance!" (Ensign, Feb. 1986, p. 19)

Ezra Taft Benson

"Do not be misled by Satan's lies. There is no lasting happiness in immorality. There is no joy to be found in breaking the law of chastity. Just the opposite is true. There may be momentary pleasure. For a time it may seem like everything is wonderful. But quickly the relationship will sour. Guilt and shame set in. We become fearful that our sins will be discovered. We must sneak and hide, lie and cheat. Love begins to die. Bitterness, jealousy, anger, and even hate begin to grow. All of these are the natural results of sin and transgression.

"On the other hand, when we obey the law of chastity and keep ourselves morally clean, we will experience the blessings of increased love and peace, greater trust and respect for our marital partners, deeper commitment to each other, and therefore a deep and significant sense of joy and happiness." (Morality, p. 86)