Friday, September 25, 2009

Lessons from the determination of Samuel the Lamanite and the range of response he received

2 And it came to pass that in this year there was one Samuel, a Lamanite, came into the land of Zarahemla, and began to preach unto the people. And it came to pass that he did preach, many days, repentance unto the people, and they did cast him out, and he was about to return to his own land.
3 But behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart.
4 And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart. (Helaman 13:2-4)
First of all, I have great respect for Samuel the Lamanite for his obedience and determination to return to preach to the city of Zarahemla when he probably had no idea what he was going to say to them until he actually started talking. I have a really hard time starting any kind of conversation when I don’t know beforehand what I will say.

Second, when Samuel the Lamanite returned and tried to enter Zarahemla and they refused to let him come in, I think it is so amazing that he still worked out a way to make himself heard. He got on the WALL. That wall represented the absolute border of where he was allowed. I think it is so amazing that after being refused entry he didn’t say something like, “Well, I tried. I guess it wasn’t meant to be” and then leave. His determination to deliver a message that he didn’t even know yet is inspiring to me.

This story shows me that I need to have a little more determination to do what I know the Lord wants me to do. I can’t let myself by stymied so easily.

I also think that Samuel the Lamanite is a great metaphor for how the Spirit of the Lord works in our lives. Just as Samuel the Lamanite preached repentance in the city of Zarahemla for many days, the Spirit strives in our hearts with us for a very long time to repent. Just as it was a serious thing that Zarahemla threw Samuel the Lamanite out of the city, it is a serious matter when we quench the Spirit or suppress the power of the Word in our lives. (Something I never want to do.) Though we can cast out the Spirit like the people of Zarahemla threw Samuel out of the city, yet the Spirit can still come to the very doors of our hearts and knock. He can stand on the walls around our heart and plead with us, like Samuel stood on the walls of the city and plead with the people to repent.

It may seem like casting the Spirit out of our hearts once means that we are beyond help, but the end of the story of Samuel the Lamanite shows that there is still a chance for us. After Samuel’s preaching, we see from the story that there was wide range of responses.
1 And now, it came to pass that there were many who heard the words of Samuel, the Lamanite, which he spake upon the walls of the city. And as many as believed on his word went forth and sought for Nephi; and when they had come forth and found him they confessed unto him their sins and denied not, desiring that they might be baptized unto the Lord.
2 But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows.
3 Now when they saw that they could not hit him, there were many more who did believe on his words, insomuch that they went away unto Nephi to be baptized.
4 For behold, Nephi was baptizing, and prophesying, and preaching, crying repentance unto the people, showing signs and wonders, working miracles among the people, that they might know that the Christ must shortly come—
5 Telling them of things which must shortly come, that they might know and remember at the time of their coming that they had been made known unto them beforehand, to the intent that they might believe; therefore as many as believed on the words of Samuel went forth unto him to be baptized, for they came repenting and confessing their sins.
6 But the more part of them did not believe in the words of Samuel; therefore when they saw that they could not hit him with their stones and their arrows, they cried unto their captains, saying: Take this fellow and bind him, for behold he hath a devil; and because of the power of the devil which is in him we cannot hit him with our stones and our arrows; therefore take him and bind him, and away with him.
7 And as they went forth to lay their hands on him, behold, he did cast himself down from the wall, and did flee out of their lands, yea, even unto his own country, and began to preach and to prophesy among his own people. (Helaman 16:1-7)
We see that there were some who believed immediately, and repented. We see there were some who attacked Samuel the Lamanite, and when they saw that their attacks were failing, they believed and repented. And we see that there were those who attacked Samuel, failed to hurt him, and because they failed, they preferred to think that the reason was because Samuel was being upheld by an evil power rather than a good one. (In short, they hardened to the point that good seemed evil to them.)

That there were some who believed and were able to submit themselves again to the influence of the Spirit shows that it is possible to allow the Spirit back in to our hearts. They were able to submit to its gentle invitations and humble themselves to repent.