Alma 38


Michael T. Ringwood

My Book of Mormon hero is a perfect example of a wonderful and blessed soul who was truly good and without guile. Shiblon was one of the sons of Alma the Younger. We are more familiar with his brothers Helaman, who would follow his father as the keeper of the records and the prophet of God, and Corianton, who gained some notoriety as a missionary who needed some counsel from his father. To Helaman, Alma wrote 77 verses (see Alma 36–37). To Corianton, Alma dedicated 91 verses (see Alma 39–42). To Shiblon, his middle son, Alma wrote a mere 15 verses (see Alma 38). Yet his words in those 15 verses are powerful and instructive.  (quotes Alma 38:2-3)
In addition to speaking to Shiblon, Alma also spoke about him to Corianton. Alma said: “Have ye not observed the steadiness of thy brother, his faithfulness, and his diligence in keeping the commandments of God? Behold, has he not set a good example for thee?” (Alma 39:1).
It appears that Shiblon was a son who wanted to please his father and went about doing what was right for right’s sake rather than for praise, position, power, accolades, or authority. Helaman must have known and respected this about his brother, for he gave Shiblon custody of the sacred records he had received from his father. Surely Helaman trusted Shiblon because “he was a just man, and he did walk uprightly before God; and he did observe to do good continually, to keep the commandments of the Lord his God” (Alma 63:2). As seems truly characteristic of Shiblon, there is not much recorded about him from the time he took possession of the sacred records until he gave them to Helaman’s son Helaman (see Alma 63:11).
Shiblon was truly good and without guile. He was a person who sacrificed his time, talents, and effort to help and lift others because of a love for God and his fellowmen (see Alma 48:17–19; 49:30). He is described perfectly by the words of President Spencer W. Kimball: “Great women and men are always more anxious to serve than to have dominion.”
In a world where praise, position, power, accolades, and authority are sought on every side, I honor those wonderful and blessed souls who are truly good and without guile, those who are motivated by a love of God and their neighbors, those great women and men who are “more anxious to serve than to have dominion.”
All I really want in life is to please my fathers—both earthly and heavenly—and to be more like Shiblon. (Ensign, May 2015, 59-61)

Alma 38:2 I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness

There is nothing like the joy which comes from children who have been faithful. John was speaking figuratively of the saints but the principle is the same when he said, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 Jn 1:4). Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them (Ps 127:3-5).

On behalf of parents who have worked so hard for the salvation of their children, let's rewrite DC 18:15-6 as follows: And if it so be that you should labor all your days in [raising your children], and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father? And now, if your joy will be great with one [child] that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many [children] unto me!

Alma 38:5 trust in shall be delivered out of your trials

John Taylor

"There is not a man upon the earth that has put his trust in God, I do not care what part of the world he has been in, but what can say that he delivered him. I know that has been the case with me, emphatically so. I have been satisfied, when in foreign lands and in strange countries, where I had no access but to the Almighty, that he was on my side, and I know that he has answered my prayers. (Journal of Discourses, 8:96, June 17, 1860)

Alma 38:6 it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me

For the most part, the prophets of God receive revelation just like the rest of us-through the Spirit. When Mike Wallace interviewed President Hinckley and asked him about his prophetic role, he referenced the passage in 1 Kings: And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12). If the prophet can run the Church by the still small voice, we should be able to run our own lives by the same Spirit. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the method by which the still small voice communicates is spirit-to-spirit:

"All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all; and those revelations which will save our spirits will save our bodies." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 355, italics added)

Alma 38:9 there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved

See commentary for Mosiah 3:17.

Neal A. Maxwell

"Regardless of how mortals view Him, however, there is no other saving and atoning name under heaven (Mosiah 3:17; Moses 6:52). 'O remember, remember, . . . that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world' (Helaman 5:9). All other 'gods' but Him will finally fail and fall, including all the 'ism' gods of this world and the many secular Caesars who, as we see currently, continue to come and go in 'an hour of pomp, an hour of show.'" (Men and Women of Christ, p. 35)

Alma 38:10 be diligent and temperate in all things

"The temperance spoken of here is that of restraint and moderation, particularly in that which we say and teach.  For example, it is unwise to use stories, quotations, or information that we cannot verify.  Temperance is especially important if the story is of a sensational nature or involves someone of high standing in the Church.  Wise teachers will confine themselves to that which they understand, or that for which they are reliable witnesses.  Exaggerations, stretching of the truth, and embellished stories and quotations bring no dignity to the gospel or to the teacher. indeed, such practices are offensive to the Spirit." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 286)

Alma 38:11 see that ye are not lifted up unto pride

So far, Alma's advice to his son Shiblon has been similar to his advice to Helaman. He told both of the promise that those who keep the commandments will prosper in the land. He told both of his conversion story. He encouraged both to learn wisdom. But Shiblon was different than Helaman. Of all Alma's sons, Shiblon was apparently the most faithful. Yet, Alma is concerned about one thing-pride.

According to the theme of the Book of Mormon, it is among the most righteous that pride becomes a snare. When Shiblon was righteous, his father warned him of pride. When Oliver Cowdery was righteous, the Lord warned him of pride (DC 23:1). Whenever the saints have been righteous, the prophets have warned them of pride. Unfortunately, there is something about righteousness which inevitably draws us toward self-righteousness.

Ezra Taft Benson

"In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride. It is always considered as a sin. We are not speaking of a wholesome view of self-worth, which is best established by a close relationship with God. But we are speaking of pride as the universal sin, as someone has described it. Mormon writes that 'the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction' (Moroni 8:27). The Lord says in the Doctrine and Covenants, 'Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old' (D&C 38:39). Essentially, pride is a 'my will' rather than 'thy will' approach to life. The opposite of pride is humbleness, meekness, submissiveness, or teachableness (see Alma 13:28). (Conference Report, Apr. 1986, p. 6)

Dallin H. Oaks

"...what I call the pride of self-satisfaction goes deeper than mere self-justification. Self-satisfaction is the opposite of humility. A person who has the pride of self-satisfaction cannot repent, because he recognizes no shortcomings. He cannot be taught, because he recognizes no master. He cannot be helped, because he recognizes no resource greater than his own. This kind of pride has a self-image that has inflated from wholesome positive to excessive pre occupied. In contrast to the spiritual wholeness of the self-forgetful, this kind of pride bespeaks the spiritual extremity of the self-centered.

"Preoccupied with self, the pride of self-satisfaction is always accompanied by an aloofness and a withdrawal from concern for others." (Pure in Heart, p. 92)

Alma 38:12 use boldness, but not overbearance

Spencer W. Kimball

"Sometimes we forget that it is better to risk a little ruffling in the relationship of a friend than it is to deprive them of eternal life by leaving them silent. Besides, our missionaries generally follow the counsel in the Book of Mormon: 'Use boldness, but not overbearance.' (Alma 38:12.)

Alma 38:12 bridle all your passions

Satan would like us to believe that to be religious we must "stifle" all our passions. He teaches that religion demands that we be monk-like, emotionless, boring, and incapable of any strong feelings. This, of course, is a typical twisting of the truth. A bridle is placed so that the horse's direction can be controlled. A bridle does not slow the horse's speed, it just points it in the right direction. So it is with our emotions and passions. The Lord does not expect us to stifle them. He does not expect us to be emotionless, impassionate robots. Rather, he wants us to express our passions and deepest emotions in the proper channels, within the bounds that are appropriate for their full expression.

Boyd K. Packer

"A bridle is used to guide, to direct. Our passion is to be controlled-but not controlled by extermination, as with a plague of insects; not controlled by eradication, as with a disease. It is to be controlled as electricity is controlled, to generate power and life. When lawfully used, the power of procreation will bless and it will sanctify (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], p. 309)." (The Things of the Soul, p. 109)

Bruce R. McConkie

"The Lord has placed in our bodies certain passions and certain appetites; perhaps the strongest of these deal with what we call the sex urges. Now if we walk in an unbridled manner, after the way of the world, and are immoral and lascivious and unclean, then we are reveling in the basest sort of carnal existence.  But if, on the other hand, we have the strength of character and the fortitude and ability to stand up like men and bridle our passions and control our lusts and use the sex urges in the manner in which the Lord has ordained that they should be used -- which is wholesome and pure and right -- if we walk without any form of sex immorality, then we are rising above the animal plane, and we are walking in the realm of spiritual things." (Conference Report, Apr. 1958, p. 70)