“O That Ye Had Repented before This Great Destruction”

Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet

There is perhaps no more poignant passage in all of holy writ than these verses penned by Mormon in anguish of soul at seeing his nation end in such a wretched state of wickedness after a lifetime of watching them go steadily from bad to worse and being unable to persuade them to repent. One would have to experience such a life in order to fully imagine the feelings that welled in Mormon’s heart as he looked upon the thousands of decaying bodies.

“How is it that you could have fallen?” is Mormon’s question. It was not a question of military might or lack of it. He was soberly searching for the cause of their wilful rebellion against God and their unwillingness to accept the atonement of Christ. Mormon’s heart-sick cry “ O that ye had repented before this great destruction” is something that modern society also could take as a plea-a plea for us to learn from the pitiful plight of the Nephites by hearkening to the Savior’s merciful invitation and thereby preparing to stand righteously before the judgment seat of Christ.

Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4