They Got Angry – 1 Nephi 7:16

A short one for today. Read 1 Nephi 7:16 here.

Context and General Information

  • This is all happening while on the journey back from Jerusalem to Lehi’s tent – with Ishmael’s family.
  • Laman and Lemuel had rebelled, along with some of Ishmael’s children, and they want to return to Jerusalem.
  • Nephi reminds them of the danger in moving back to Jerusalem – it will be destroyed! However, Nephi admits that they have a choice. He is simply giving them an educated choice.
  • Laman and Lemuel get angry. They tie him up with the intention of him dying in the desert.

They Got Angry

What is the response of Laman and Lemuel – who were already agitated and rebellious – to what Nephi had to say. We read in 1 Nephi:

“And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me…” – 1 Nephi 7:16

Laman and Lemuel were angry with Nephi.

Why? Why would they get mad at Nephi? Let’s think about what is happening –

  1. Laman and Lemuel rebel – against Nephi while traveling back to the wilderness to their father – against their father in traveling in the wilderness at all. They want to go back to Jerusalem.Their hearts are in Jerusalem. This isn’t really good.

    And why isn’t it good? As I think about it – I’m reminded of others who have left Jerusalem so far:

    • Lehi, Sariah, Sam, and Nephi – and by this point we know that Lehi has a testimony that they need to leave, Nephi and Sam have testimonies that they need to leave, and Sariah has a testimony that they need to leave. Though this inspiration originally came to Lehi, the Lord did give confirmation to others that Jerusalem would be destroyed and that they needed to flee.The point I’m trying to make – Nephi, Sam, and Sariah were not relying on Lehi’s witness anymore. They had witness for themselves. Laman and Lemuel could have, too, but they didn’t seek it. And if they did, they ignored it and desired Jerusalem more. (which is crazy, right?! Who would want to stay in a place that would be destroyed?!…a quick tangent – based on what we know about Laman and Lemuel, I think it’s safe to assume that if they had stayed in Jerusalem and it got destroyed, and they were starving, or fleeing for their lives, or slaves they would be thinking “Why weren’t we warned? I would have rather traveled in the wilderness for 8 years than to deal with this!”)
    • Zoram – It’s easy to forget that Zoram is even with them still. But it’s important to note. Zoram isn’t making a move to escape back to Jerusalem. He stayed loyal to Nephi and Lehi – even though Nephi killed his master, Laban! We don’t know a whole lot about Zoram, but it seems apparent that at some level Zoram knew Jerusalem would be destroyed and wanted to escape it, too. He didn’t seem tempted to rebel against Lehi or Nephi on the way to the promised land.
    • Ishmael and his wife, and a few of his children (that didn’t rebel) Even though Ishmael and his family are only beginning this journey, there are plenty members of his family who don’t rebel.

    So – it’s not only Nephi and Lehi that want to move out of Jerusalem. There are many others who have received their own witnesses and motivation for leaving Jerusalem. Laman and Lemuel want to go back, so they rebel.

  2. Nephi, troubled by Laman and Lemuel’s rebellion and constrained by the Spirit, speaks to his brothers – He asks them the series of “how is it?” questions. He is trying to jog their memories and help to persuade them not to return to Jerusalem.
  3. Nephi gives Laman and Lemuel the choice to do whatever they want – with the reminder of what is in store for Jerusalem. He is a good brother, but with their hard hearts, they see his warning as some kind of manipulation or guilt trip. They don’t see that he is delivering the message being given to him by the Lord.

So back to the earlier question. Why are Laman and Lemuel mad at Nephi? He gave them the truth and he gave them an option. What’s it to them?

Anger…

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” – Moroni 7:45, emphasis added.

They are mad because the devil has a hold of their hearts. They don’t have charity. They don’t have the pure love of Christ. You can tell because they are quick to anger. They aren’t patient. They don’t rejoice in truth. Instead, when they don’t get their way, they get angry. When they hear the truth, they get angry. When they are reminded of the Lord and their covenants, they get angry.

We are taught, by the Savior Himself:

“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” – 3 Nephi 11:29

Why are Laman and Lemuel angry? For the very same reason that they murmur: they know not the dealings of that God who created them.

Silly. Beyond silly. This is what Laman’s and Lemuel’s anger has brought them to do:

“And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts.” – 1 Nephi 7:16

This is the second time (that we have read about) where Laman and Lemuel use violence against their brother. Out of anger. They have no self control – they are completely emotional. And they make a choice that, if it had worked out the way that they intended, would have made them murderers.

Personal Application

I’m toying with this idea – to do more personal application. We’ll see how it goes.

Yesterday, I was in my car, driving home after a doctor’s appointment. It was a beautiful, sunny day in the Heber Valley.

I was driving down a country road that starts off as two lanes in each direction and then narrows down to only one lane in each direction. It is a simple merge, there aren’t usually many cars on this road.

As I drove along, I was singing to music and happy that my kids are all healthy. I noticed in my rear-view window someone coming up on me really fast. The lanes were merging, but I was already in the portion of road where the lanes had merged. The person behind me would simply have to stay behind me.

By the way. I was driving about 50 in a 35. So I wasn’t going a leisurely pace. I could have been pulled over and ticketed.

But it wasn’t enough for the person behind me. They nearly drove me off the road and passed me illegally. I have no idea how fast they were going. Soon they were tailgating someone else ahead of me, and passing them even though it was a double yellow. Even though they nearly hit another car head-on.

I wanted to get angry.

***
A few days ago, I was talking to someone who I don’t consider a particularly good listener. Even though I know this, I was still engaged in a “conversation,” and then it progressed as usual. I was frustrated with the conversation, with being spoken “down” to. With the whole entire situation.

I wanted to get angry.

***
Right now, we are living a life of transition. It’s not easy. It is a burden on me, my husband, my children, and my extended family. I know that faith in God includes faith in his timing. Yet there are times when it is hard to understand why His timing takes so long. Stress and pressure mounts up.

And I want to get a little angry.

***
So – personal application…Learn from Laman and Lemuel. Don’t be quick to anger. And how is it done?…
One – Instead of getting angry for too long, I just sang louder to my music. The day was too pretty to let some driver get me angry. They must have somewhere to go. And I hope that they stay safe!

I remember when I had a kidney stone and we were driving to the hospital. (If you have had a kidney stone, you understand the pain)… Any time my husband slowed down, I yelled at him to hurry up!… Maybe that driver had a passenger with kidney stones! Who knows. Who cares. Whether they had a good reason to drive aggressively or none at all, it makes no difference.

I can keep proper perspective and stay happy.

Two – Instead of getting angry at someone who I consider isn’t a good listener, I can look at the situation with honesty. What kind of listener am I if I’m getting angry at someone else? Instead of worrying about people listening to me, maybe I should remember the sage advice of Mom’s everywhere – we have two ears and one mouth. Maybe I need to take my own advice.

Not maybe.

I need to take my own advice.

I am not always a good listener, but I know that when I take the time to listen and care about others, I always feel so good. It’s easy to think that having someone listen will make me feel better about myself. Maybe I should try another tactic – maybe I should try listening if I want to feel better. I know that if I do, I’ll be happy rather than angry.

Three – I can’t do anything about my life being in a transition right now. Faith in the Lord includes faith in his timing! So, instead of worrying about the things that I can’t control, I can focus on the things I must do daily to eliminate stress, fear, and doubt.

Pray. And go for walks. I’ve noticed that when I don’t get outside (of the house or my own head…or both), then I get crazy.

How can you feel angry when you go for a walk and see this???

Heber Valley Golden Hour

Anger? Not possible in the Heber Valley during the Golden Hour.

Globe Mallow

Anger? Not possible when you spy a little bloom on a roadside.

Chicken Crossing

Anger? Not possible when you actually see a chicken crossing a road!

Yellow Swallowtail and Blue Flax

Anger? Not possible when there are swallowtails flitting along in the flowers.

Mama and Baby Horse

Anger? Not possible when you pass by a cute, new foal and his mama.

Summer Storm

Anger? No. Simply Admiration.

***
Anger is an easy option. It’s the go-to reaction for the “natural man.” But we miss out on so much in life! Laman’s and Lemuel’s anger nearly caused them to miss out on a promised land. And anger won’t just disappear when we think we have what we want.

We must make the choice to strip anger out of our hearts. And then, when we do – we open our hearts to beauty and joy.

 

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Anger and Acceptance (1 Nephi 16:18-23)

In learning about how people navigate obstacles in their lives, I’ve observed two main reactions to adversity:

acceptance

In the past, I tended to confuse acceptance with endorsement. There are times when acceptance means, this, but a few years ago, when I started a deeper meditation practice, I came to realize that acceptance actually means something a little different. In terms of “accepting” the obstacles in our lives, it isn’t that we give a ringing endorsement, but that we are regarding it as true, we are understanding it.

anger

Anger is an emotional response to adversity.

We see both of these responses in 1 Nephi when Nephi broke his bow.

“And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food.

And it came to pass that we did return without food to our families, and being much fatigued, because of their journeying, they did suffer much for the want of food.

And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord.” – 1 Nephi 16:18-23

Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael react to Nephi’s broken bow is anger. They murmur and complain. But what does it do? What is the point? They are all starving in the desert. How is standing around, murmuring or complaining going to improve their situation?

Being angry is a waste of time and energy.

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did speak much unto my brethren, because they had hardened their hearts again, even unto complaining against the Lord their God.” – 1 Nephi 16:22

Even though Nephi didn’t react with anger, no solution can be found. He is diffusing the anger of his brethren. What a waste of time! Nephi isn’t doing the wrong thing here, but notice how much effort he must make to calm their anger.

I think that this is usually the result of anger. We waste our energy on murmuring and complaining instead of resolving the solution. Additionally, we have to waste time and energy to abate our anger – before we can finally see clearly to solve our problems.

I get that there are times when we have a physical, emotional reaction. There have been times when I have been hurt that I have felt anger. But my anger never has solved anything. It usually makes things worse, then takes a lot of energy out of me before I finally shake the angry feeling.

This is why meditation and prayer is so helpful. There is not a better way to learn to detach and accept our adversities with a discerning and understanding heart than through meditation and prayer.

Finally,

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?” – 1 Nephi 16:18-23

When we use our energy to accept the problem, then we are able to find solutions! Nephi accepted his loss of a bow. I’m not sure he was feeling super gung-ho and happy about it. But he accepted it. Then he was able to analyze the situaiton and figure out a way to make a new bow.

It’s such an easy solution.

His brothers could have done the same. They could have had food before Nephi went out and procured it. But they wasted their energy and effort, which was already in limited supply, by murmuring and complaining.

The Double Edged Sword of Truth (Mosiah 13:8)

In Mosiah Chapters 12-15, Abinadi the prophet is delivering a message to the wicked priests of King Noah.

Abinadi preaches a message of truth. It is, for the most part a message of hope. It is the message that Christ will come. It is the message of the gospel and how God’s commandments bring us joy and peace in this life and in the life to come.

Of course, the gospel of Christ is also a message of our agency. We don’t have to choose to keep the commandments. We don’t have to choose to covenant with Him. We can do whatever we want to do. However, we are warned that when we don’t keep the commandments, then we will experience pain and misery.

Abinadi is teaching the priests truth. This message is “laws of the universe” kind of stuff. That might not make sense. What I mean is – the connection between righteousness and joy is as sure of a universal truth as gravity is. You can’t really disagree with the law of gravity. It’s a law.

I mean, I guess you could disagree with it. But you are still susceptible to it, and must be obedient to it or else experience grave results. The Lord’s laws are just as sure. But not everyone accepts or rejoices in truth.

The Priests, who claimed to be preaching the gospel, didn’t rejoice at Abinadi’s words. They didn’t nod their heads and give an “amen.” Instead, we read:

” Ye see that ye have not power to slay me, therefore I finish my message. Yea, and I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities.

Yea, and my words fill you with wonder and amazement, and with anger.” – Mosiah 13:7-8

I’ll try to cut the priests some slack. Abinadi was calling them out on their wickedness. This is because they were ripening for destruction, and God loves His children. He sent a prophet to warn them – with the hope that they would repent and unite themselves again with a God who loves them and would protect them. It isn’t always easy to hear or take correction – especially if you’re somewhat fond of your sin.

So, I can learn a lesson from these wicked priests, and ask myself, Do I respond in like manner? When someone corrects me, am I filled with “wonder, amazement, and anger?” or do I swallow my pride, accept correction, and seek to repair my relationship with God?

Meditation and Joy

About a year ago, I started meditating. I’ve always believed in prayer, and I know that prayer is basically meditation. However, I also knew that my prayers were lacking. I saw a yoga magazine about meditation and felt that I should purchase it.

As I read through their meditation articles, I had a strong impression to start incorporating some of the yoga-principles into my own meditation (breath, posture, etc).

It has been a transformative experience. My prayers are much better and more meaningful, and I love finding examples of meditation throughout the scriptures.

There is a great example of the power of prayer and meditation found in 2 Nephi 4.

2 Nephi 4 is often considered to be “the psalm of Nephi.” His soul is pained – because of the anger he has towards his brothers. This entire chapter can show us the power of consistent meditation.

For now, I’ll only focus on one part that I find especially significant (today…!)

We read:

“O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” – 2 Nephi 4:26-30

Nephi’s brothers want to kill him. This is what has driven him to anger. Plus, let’s face it. Nephi has had to deal with his brothers for a lifetime. They haven’t been all that great to him.

I can see why Nephi is angry.

I know that I’ve been frustrated with people in my life (and none of them have have threatened to kill me). I remember a time, for example, when I was a little frustrated with my husband. I prayed about my frustration.

Instead of having the Lord respond, “You’re right! He’s being such a jerk!” I was brought to humility.

As we grow in our meditation, I think that we learn to do this ourselves, and Nephi is an example of this.

Instead of trying to justify his sin, he asks questions of himself. Nephi isn’t focused on how he has been wronged, he is focused on his agency. He doesn’t complain to God that Laman and Lemuel are trying to kill him. Instead, he focuses on his own knowledge, experience, actions, and testimony.

He knows so much. He has had so many blessings in his life. He lives in a promised land. And now, he is reacting to Laman and Lemuel’s antics?! No Way! Nephi shows us that consistent meditation will help us to become agents to act rather than be acted upon.

Instead of retaliating and further pushing this wedge between him and his brothers, he prays about his own reaction. He gives up his pride, he puts his trust in the Lord, and then he is strengthened.

Meditation and prayer will help to strengthen our resolve for our own agency, and this will bring so much more joy in our lives.