June 29, 2007 - Original Post
Below is an excerpt from John W. Welch, "A Masterpiece: Alma 36," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, ed. J.L. Sorenson and M.J. Thorne, Deseret Book Comp., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1991.
(a) My son, give ear to my WORDS (1)
(b) KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS of God and ye shall PROSPER IN THE LAND (2)
(c) DO AS I HAVE DONE (2)
(d) in REMEMBERING THE CAPTIVITY of our fathers (2);
(e) for they were in BONDAGE (2)
(f) he surely did DELIVER them (2)
(g) TRUST in God (3)
(h) supported in their TRIALS, and TROUBLES, and AFFLICTIONS (3)
(i) shall be lifted up at the LAST DAY (3)
(j) I KNOW this not of myself but of GOD (4)
(k) BORN OF GOD (5)
(l) I sought to destroy the church of God (6-9)
(m) MY LIMBS were paralyzed (10)
(n) Fear of being in the PRESENCE OF GOD (14-15)
(o) PAINS of a damned soul (16)
(p) HARROWED UP BY THE MEMORY OF SINS (17)
(q) I remembered JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD (17)
(q') I cried, JESUS, SON OF GOD (18)
(p') HARROWED UP BY THE MEMORY OF SINS no more (19)
(o') Joy as exceeding as was the PAIN (20)
(n') Long to be in the PRESENCE OF GOD (22)
(m') My LIMBS received their strength again (23)
(l') I labored to bring souls to repentance (24)
(k') BORN OF GOD (26)
(j') Therefore MY KNOWLEDGE IS OF GOD (26)
(h') Supported under TRIALS, TROUBLES, and AFFLICTIONS (27)
(g') TRUST in him (27)
(f') He will deliver me (27)
(i') and RAISE ME UP AT THE LAST DAY (28)
(e') As God brought our fathers out of BONDAGE and captivity (28-29)
(d') Retain in REMEMBRANCE THEIR CAPTIVITY (28-29)
(c') KNOW AS I DO KNOW (30)
(b') KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS and ye shall PROSPER IN THE LAND (30)
(a') This is according to his WORD (30).
Keep the Commandments and Prosper in the Land
Since the chapter is a chiasmus, the beginning and end of the chapter contains this counsel: keep the commandments and you will prosper in the land. This is a repeating theme throughout the Book of Mormon. Alma and the rest of the people who keep the commandments are proof that this promise is true. As the Nephites kept the commandments, they prospered. As they disobeyed, their riches and quality of lift greatly diminished.
Delivered from Bondage
The rest of the chapter provides examples of people who were in physical or spiritual bondage, who put their trust in God and were consequently delivered. This is another repeating theme in the Book of Mormon. Alma reminds Helaman of the Israelites bondage and how they were delivered. He also reminds Helaman of his own spiritual bondage and his conversion. Lastly Alma reminds Helaman of how Lehi and his family were delivered as well as the bondage of the people of Alma the Senior.
"Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." (Alma 36:3)
He later testifies, "I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me." (Alma 36:27)
What types of bondage and troubles and afflictions and trials do we face today? Are we burdened with sin? Do our families suffer from troubles and afflictions and trials? Does it seem that we are fighting an uphill battle? We may struggle on our own to overcome, but whether we succeed or fail, God will always be there to support us and help us if we but put our trust in him and ask for his succor. More than likely, if we try to overcome our own troubles without God's help, we will fail or unnecessarily toil. We should seek God's help and put our trust in him.
One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
I have experienced the hand of the Lord in my life. I know that when I put my trust in him, he delivers me.
June 4, 2012 - Addition
Alma 36:22 really stood out to me today ... especially the last seven words of that verse. Alma talks about the torment he experienced until he called on Jesus Christ to save him. Immediately, Christ relieved the pain Alma was in. Then Alma was filled with joy as equally powerful as the pain he felt. Then he saw God sitting on his throne, surrounded by angels who were "in the attitude of singing and praising their God."
And then Alma says this, "my soul did long to be there."
There are 18 years between my older brother and me. He and his wife came to visit us one summer ... I must have been about 9 or 10 years old. It was a wonderful time. I'm sure we had bbqs, played basketball and talked a lot. I honestly don't remember much of that. Rather, what I remember is a very intense pain when they were leaving. I still vividly remember sitting on the porch step in the garage and watching my brother and his wife pull out of the drive way and drive off back to their home. I was extremely sad to see them leave. I bawled as I watched them leave ... I longed to be with them.
Now I'm sure Alma's longing was a bit more intense than mine, but I'm grateful for the bit of perspective that I do have on that feeling of longing.