“Samuel, the Lamanite”

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

Samuel the Lamanite is sent by the Lord in the year 6 BC to call the people of Zarahemla to repentance on the eve of the Savior’s birth in the Holy Land. The prevailing condition of the times is one of political instability and spiritual decline. Even though the prophet Nephi, son of Helaman, has labored mightily to persuade the people to return to the Lord, they soon forget their promises and “wax stronger and stronger in their pride, and in their wickedness; and thus they [are] ripening again for destruction” (Helaman 11:37). Into this prideful and idolatrous atmosphere in Zarahemla, darkened even further by the incursions and conspiracies of the Gadianton robbers throughout the land, the Lord sends a brilliant light. It is the penetrating light of the word of God as proclaimed by a Lamanite prophet who stands forth with astounding courage in the capital city of the Nephite nation and sounds an urgent warning that time is running out. Speaking from atop the city wall, Samuel delivers a potent manifesto of truth to the people, including a resonating indictment of their persistent disregard for the redeeming principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Samuel’s appearance is fairly brief, taking place just five years before the predicted sign at the time of the Savior’s birth—but his influence and the weight of his message endures long beyond his ministry. Nephi, the son of Nephi (the latter having been Samuel’s contemporary), is in office when the period of five years expires. Amidst the taunting of disbelievers, he is favored to hear the voice of the Lord confirming that the predicted sign will occur that very night and that His birth will take place on the morrow (see 3 Nephi 1:13–14). We can express thanks for the faithful dedication of Samuel the Lamanite, together with the service and courage of all other prophets of God who have given their full measure of devotion and sometimes even their lives that the testimony of the Savior’s mission and Atonement might echo through the corridors of time and touch our hearts with the power of eternal truth and light as manifested in the Book of Mormon and all other holy writ.

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2