In my mind, this chapter is very controversial. A person can read this chapter and take it to an extreme and fail to keep the commandments. But on the other hand, we can learn very valuable lessons from Nephi's accounting of how he retrieved the plates of brass.
The chapter begins where the previous chapter left off … namely Nephi responding to the question Laman and Lemuel posed. Nephi tries to shore up the courage and faith of his brothers. He draws upon scripture and notes the faith of Moses. But, Laman and Lemuel were still angry at him and reluctantly followed Nephi back to Jerusalem.
Nephi goes solo into the city. He doesn't know where to go, but goes nevertheless. He trusts in the Spirit. Some might argue that Nephi didn't have a plan. To which I say, "Yes he did! His plan was to follow the promptings of the Spirit." He may not have mapped out his steps into the city, but he knew that if he put forth the effort, the Lord would direct him. It is in action and doing that we demonstrate our faith in God.
He happens upon an unconscious Laban. One of the first things he notices is Laban's sword. He takes it out and admires it. As he admires the fine sword, the Spirit impresses upon him the need to kill Laban! Nephi protests the admonition. He even shrinks (perhaps this means that he takes a step away from Laban as if he were avoiding the temptation to kill him).
The Spirit responds back, "Behold the Lord hat delivered him into thy hands." Nephi reasons that Laban had tried to kill him and his brothers. Laban did not keep the commandments. And he had taken their property away.
A third time, the Spirit speaks, "Slay him, for the Lord hath 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."
Upon hearing these words, Nephi remembers the constant admonition from the Lord, "Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise." How can his children and grandchildren keep the commandment if they do not have a the scriptures? The fate of an entire nation depends upon the outcome of his struggle with the Spirit. How else would the Lord deliver the plates into Nephi's hands? Perhaps there was no other way.
What I learn from this is that the Spirit and the Lord can touch our hearts in highly specific ways. Despite all our reasoning, we still know within the heart of our hearts that it is the Spirit that is speaking to us and not our reasoning. The lesson learned here is not only that we should always obey the Lord, but it is also that the Lord will communicate to us in a very special way that only we can understand. In other words, the Spirit will speak to my mind in such a specific manner that only I can fully appreciate the message received. Because of past experiences and past revelations that only the Spirit would know about (us), the Spirit can communicate to us in a highly specialized manner. He will bring to our minds things that we would normally not think of.
Nephi is convinced and slays Laban. He immediately knows what to do next and sets out to accomplish that which the Lord had commanded him to do.
Here, another lesson can be learned. There have been times in my life when I have struggled to find an answer from the Lord … much like Nephi. I seemingly get bogged down and "argue" with the Spirit. But as soon as I cease to "kick against the pricks" and go with the Lord, then my way is opened up and I accomplish much. Such was the circumstance with Nephi. As soon as he decided to do what the Lord commanded him to do, he seemed to have an easier time … as if the way he should carry on were opened to him in his mind and he knew exactly what needed to be done.
The mission was accomplished and Lehi rejoiced in his sons' return.