Saturday, May 25, 2013

King Noah on the Tower vs. King Limhi on the Tower

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Recently I noticed there are two difference incidents involving enemy armies detected from the top of a tower in the Book of Mosiah.  In the first, King Noah is trying to escape from Gideon, who wants to kill him, and King Noah flees and gets on the tower. 

6 And Gideon pursued after him and was about to get upon the tower to slay the king, and the king cast his eyes round about towards the land of Shemlon, and behold, the army of the Lamanites were within the borders of the land.
7 And now the king cried out in the anguish of his soul, saying: Gideon, spare me, for the Lamanites are upon us, and they will destroy us; yea, they will destroy my people.
8 And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life; nevertheless, Gideon did spare his life.
9 And the king commanded the people that they should flee before the Lamanites, and he himself did go before them, and they did flee into the wilderness, with their women and their children.
10 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did pursue them, and did overtake them, and began to slay them. (Mosiah 19:5-10)

I have no idea just what Noah thought getting on the tower did for him in his extremity; maybe it allowed him to fight from height?  But from the top, he just happens to notice a Lamanite army in the borders of the land.

In the second incident one chapter later, it is Limhi who is on top of the tower.

6 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites found that their daughters had been missing, they were angry with the people of Limhi, for they thought it was the people of Limhi.
7 Therefore they sent their armies forth; yea, even the king himself went before his people; and they went up to the land of Nephi to destroy the people of Limhi.
8 And now Limhi had discovered them from the tower, even all their preparations for war did he discover; therefore he gathered his people together, and laid wait for them in the fields and in the forests.
9 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites had come up, that the people of Limhi began to fall upon them from their waiting places, and began to slay them. (Mosiah 20:6-9)

King Limhi manages to discover all the Lamanite preparations for war from the top of this tower.

Now, whenever there are similar incidents, in the Book of Mormon, it is helpful to make a comparison between them to see what we can learn from the similarities and differences. 

Similarities

Both King Noah and King Limhi used the same tower.  They both used it to spot the Lamanite armies.  This makes me think that tower was built for that very purpose as sort of an early warning system.  It was more economical than surrounding the land with guards because it only required one man on the tower, but for guards it required an army which would have to be paid to stand idle.  In that small Nephite community, men were at premium (or at least that is the impression I get).

I think the watchtower is meant to be a symbol for prophets.  Just as the tower allowed the watcher to see the enemy army when it was still far away, prophets can see spiritual threats before they become obvious to the rest of us.  They warn us ahead of time so we can prepare to fight them.

Differences

King Noah seems to have not used the tower nearly as well as Limhi did.  King Noah only happened to notice an invading Lamanite army, whereas Limhi seems to have made a habit of getting on the tower to see what he could see. 

King Noah only got on the tower when he was in trouble, but Limhi seems to have got on the tower regularly, even when he was not in trouble.  We learn from this that listening to the prophets can’t be something that you do only when you are in trouble because then you won’t be able to deal with the larger issues and threats that come.  Instead, you have to regularly consult them for advice (in the Ensign magazines and conference addresses) and make their messages a real part of your life so that you’ll be able to pick up on the patterns that indicate an advance warning.

King Noah only saw the Lamanite army just as it was invading, so there was no time to prepare a defense.  All he and the Nephites could do was retreat and hope to escape.  Limhi, on the other hand, saw all the Lamanite preparations, so he knew what was coming.  He didn’t dismiss what he saw; he knew what it meant, and so he took action.  He prepared his people to fight back, and when the Lamanites invaded, the Nephites had the advantage of surprise. 

One example of an invading “army” we have been warned against by the prophets is pornography.  Our society is becoming more porn-ified.  We have been warned against it, and not only do we need to resist it in our media consumption, we have to raise our voices for decency in our society.   I have mentioned to grocery store managers (in a nice way) about how I’m bothered by certain magazine covers in the magazine racks.  Today I sent an email to a local news organization objecting to footage of dancing inside an adult entertainment business.   I’m almost beginning to think that it might help me to streamline future protests by making up some sort of form letter conveying my general concerns about the pornification of society, how the particular media organization/store is contributing to that trend, and facts about the harms of pornography, which I can then customize with pertinent conditions of a particular exposure to indecency and then send it quickly.  

The above insight about King Noah’s vigilance versus King Limhi’s vigilance has crystallized for me the conviction that we have to see these different incidents as part of a general invasion that requires us to fight.