“The Compass Which Had Been Prepared of the Lord, Did Cease to Work”

Brant Gardner

Although Nephi does not say so, Laman and Lemuel apparently see no connection between the binding of Nephi and the failure of the director. Denying Nephi’s spiritual authority, they could not see the causal relationship.

Without the Liahona, they did not know where to go, but they likely attempted only to hold their course and ran into the storm, not uncommon during the monsoon season. (See commentary accompanying 1 Nephi 18:20–22.) Perhaps, one of the Liahona’s functions was to help them avoid such natural phenomena. Nephi’s phrasing is curious: “insomuch that there arose a great storm.” How could indecision cause a storm? Not knowing how to avoid it would allow them to be caught in its grip. From their perspective, however, all natural actions were the result of God’s will. Therefore, their lack of faith would have triggered God’s action in giving rise to the storm.

This verse suggests that Laman and Lemuel had seized control of the group, not allowing anyone else to untie Nephi either. Certainly Lehi and Sariah did not condone Nephi’s binding but were powerless either to prevent or reverse it.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1