While reading renowned LDS apologist Hugh Nibley’s book The Prophetic Book Of Mormon, I read a transcript of a talk given by him entitled ‘Freemen And King-Men In The Book Of Mormon‘. In the text I encountered an interesting statement: “Through the operation of what we may call Samuel’s Law. 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 a paraphrase from the following scripture found in Helaman 13:21-22:
21 Behold ye, the people of this great city, and hearken unto my words; yea, hearken unto the words which the Lord saith; for behold, he saith that ye are cursed because of your riches, and also are your riches cursed because ye have set your hearts upon them, and have not hearkened unto the words of him who gave them unto you.
22 Ye do not remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath blessed you, but ye do always remember your riches, not to thank the Lord your God for them; yea, your hearts are not drawn out unto the Lord, but they do swell with great pride, unto boasting, and unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities.
We also have these interesting statements from Samuel later on in the chapter:
31 And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them.
33 O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us.
35 Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land.
It’s an interesting use of the word slippery to describe the way the people were not able to hold on to their riches that they valued so much. It’s use connotates that the people weren’t necessarily losing or misplacing their riches, or that they weren’t being stolen, but that no matter how hard they tried to hold on to their riches, they (their riches) would become unstable and not to be relied upon. Do you know anyone who has had their riches slip through their fingers and as a result have lost their wealth?
So here we have a warning from an ancient prophet, Samuel the Lamanite, cautioning us against the perils of setting our hearts on the wrong things, such as money and what you can do with money, and that this will lead us down the path to the destruction of our society.
If you were to juxtapose these teachings of ancient Samuel the Lamanite with modern day news reports, you could determine that we are in a similar situation as the people in the Book of Mormon were. You can hardly turn on the TV or read the newspaper without hearing about how bad the economy is and what needs to be done to fix it.
With news headlines like “What’s Wrong With America’s Economy?”, and “Restarting The US Economy“, and “Fixing America’s Economy“; it’s not too much of a stretch to realize that when society focuses too much on money and the things you can do with money, our society suffers.
In the Business Weekly article “Fixing America’s Economy” there is even a quote that is eeriely similar to what Samuel the Lamanite said. ” “The longer this goes on, the greater the danger that the cyclical downturn becomes structural. People and things that lie idle start to lose their productive value. Then you’re into all sorts of troubles,” says Karen Ward, senior global economist at HSBC Holdings (HBC) in London. ”
So what do we do to resolve this situation? The economic “experts” will talk until they are blue in the face about what we should do to resolve our economic woes. However, if anything they will be quick fixes that in the end will come to naught. I believe that the real solution isn’t even related to money and the economy, and is revealed in what Samuel taught in the aforementioned verse 33. Which is that we need to repent of our sins and turn to the Lord for guidance in our lives. Don’t ignore the prophets and their teachings, but listen to them and pay attention to their teachings, as their teachings are from the Lord and are His will for us.
As we are obedient to the commandments and are humble, the Lord will bless us. He won’t bless us directly with a magically appearing boatload of cash, but instead in ways that allow us to be presented with opportunities to be able to better our lives, in all aspects. It will be up to us to take advantage of these opportunites and to improve our lives. Just like the ancient Israelites, obedience to the commandments and teachings of the prophets will allow the destroying angel to pass over us and our homes.