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Summary: Helaman, Gid, and Teomner take the city of Manti by a stratagem—The Lamanites withdraw—The sons of the people of Ammon are preserved as they stand fast in defense of their liberty and faith. About 63 B.C.
I really enjoyed reading this chapter; it was faith-promoting to read about the odds Helaman and his armies overcame in being able to defeat the Lamanites. This is what they were up against:
~ They almost perished for want of food (vs. 7)
~ The Lamanites grew stronger by the day (vs. 6,8) and far outnumbered the Nephites ("innumerable", vs. 8)
~ Helaman requested strength and provisions, but only received a little food and 2000 men (vs. 8,9)
~ The Lamanites would not be fooled by a decoy because they remembered this was previously done (vs. 1)
~ The Nephites were fearful for their lives and that God would send poor judgements upon them (vs. 9)
~The Lamanites were defending a stronghold, Manti (vs. 1)
It seems pretty bleak. They could have easily let their discouragement overcome them or become embittered toward God. But this is what they did in response to their circumstances:
10 Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.
11 Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.
They took courage, and with the Lord's help, they defeated the Lamanites. This is how they did it:
~ The Nephites camped in the wilderness by Manti so the Lamanites' spies would see them. (vs. 13, 14)
~ Helaman has Gid and Teancum take small groups of men and hide in different parts of the wilderness. (vs. 16)
~ The Lamanites came to fight them, due to the Nephites' poor numbers. (vs. 15)
~ The Nephites retreat through the wilderness; the Lamanites pursue (vs. 18)
~ Gid and Teancum come behind the Lamanites and cut off the spies so they couldn't go back to the city. Then they go back to the city and reclaim it--the Lamanites left only the guards behind. (vs. 20-23)
~ The Lamanites discover that they are going toward Zarahemla. Afraid it is a trap, they turn to go back. (vs. 24)
~ Helaman has his armies march all through the night to beat the Lamanites back to Manti. (vs. 26)
~ The Lamanites arrive at Manti to discover the Nephites have occupied the city. They are astonished and flee from that entire quarter of the land. (vs. 29-30)
I loved reading the strategies the Nephites used in this chapter. I think they can be summed up nicely by verse 28:
28 And thus it came to pass, that by this stratagem we did take possession of the city of Manti without the shedding of blood.
This is why I love reading about the Nephites when they are righteous. They truly fight to defend. They do not delight in the shedding of blood. And the Lord blesses them.
So, what is the true asset the Nephites had? What made the difference? It is made obvious in this chapter. It is their faith in and reliance on God. They remembered their blessings, and that they wouldn't have all they do without Him.
vs. 40: But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.
This is what we can take away from this chapter. We are going to experience some very difficult circumstances as we draw nearer to the second coming. Our greatest asset to our surivial will be our faith and our trust in God. As long as we are doing our best faithfully, He will magnify our abilities. We may experience "many wounds" but those hardships are only temporary. We know that the important things are not temporal, and that they last for eternity.