The third attempt to obtain the Brass Plates was carried out alone by Nephi while his brothers waited outside the city. He wasn’t sure how he would succeed, but he went forward trusting that the Lord would prepare the way. After entering the city, he found Laban (the man who had the Plates and had attempted to kill him and his brothers) drunk on the ground.
After taking the sword from Laban’s sheath Nephi experienced the following internal struggle:
“And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him. And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.
And…the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord has delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (1 Nephi 4:10-13)
-How often is the spiritual fate of an entire future nation so closely tied to the actions of one man (such as Laban)?
-If you believe God gave us life, do you also believe He has the power and authority to take it away based on His higher wisdom and timing?
-Do you think the adversary attempted to make Nephi feel guilty about what he had done in this very exceptional circumstance (even though he did do what was right)?
Prophets, Seers, and Revelators
“I believe that story was placed in the very opening verses of a 531-page book and then told in painfully specific detail in order to focus every reader of that record on the absolutely fundamental gospel issue of obedience and submission to the communicated will of the Lord. If Nephi cannot yield to this terribly painful command, if he cannot bring himself to obey, then it is entirely probable that he can never succeed or survive in the tasks that lie just ahead.
‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded’ (1 Nephi 3:7). I confess that I wince a little when I hear that promise quoted so casually among us. Jesus knew what that kind of commitment would entail, and so now does Nephi. And so will a host of others before it is over. That vow took Christ to the cross on Calvary, and it remains at the heart of every Christian covenant. ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.’ Well, we shall see” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Will of the Father”).