Lessons from David – Part 2

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Solomon was a great prophet and king, one of the greatest. He was wise and just. The Lord appeared to him multiple times (e.g., 1 Kings 9:2). Solomon was wealthy and well-respected by all. However, Solomon “loved many strange [non-covenant] women” (1 Kings 11:1). He had many wives and concubines. In his old age “his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, and it became as the heart of David his father” (JST 1 Kings 11:3-4). David’s heart was not perfect either but he was repentant, or at least came across as repentant in the scriptures. Solomon worshiped false gods and forsook the Lord. The Lord then took away Solomon’s blessings but retained some for his children (and so on) because of “David thy father’s sake” (1 Kings 11:12). That’s why, even though David did evil in the sight of the Lord, I believe his heart was more repentant than Solomon’s was.

David’s words comprise some of the most beautiful passages in the scriptures. His psalms contain beautiful words and beautiful themes. His words also focus heavily on the role of the Lord as Redeemer, largely because David is seeking forgiveness. Here are a few of his words: “For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28). “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). David also wrote some prophecies that told of events and teachings from the Savior’s life: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring [the Lord as Lion is not an infrequent metaphor for the Savior]…. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pieced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me [foretelling the Savior on His way to Golgotha and upon the cross]. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Psalm 22:1,16-18). David’s Psalms contain many more prophecies of the Savior, referring to Judas’ betrayal (Psalm 41:9), cleansing the temple (Psalm 69:9), the suffering of the Savior in Gethsemane (Psalm 69:20), and how He was offered vinegar while on the cross (Psalm 69:21).

One of my favorite scriptures is found in the 84th psalm. “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:10-11; emphasis added). David made mistakes. He made very grievous mistakes but he tried to do good. He is one character I admire and respect for many reasons, in spite of his faults.

Alma and Amulek as Types of Christ, Part 5

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After the fall of the prison many came running to see what caused the commotion. When they saw Alma and Amulek walking out unscathed and filled with the power of God they “fled from the presence of Alma and Amulek even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions” (Alma 14:29). The righteous of the Lord who are of the House of Israel “shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest” (3 Ne. 21:12; see also Mormon 5:24 and 3 Ne. 20:16). Christ is compared to a lion in the scriptures and was born into a house of lions (see Gen. 49:9). Indeed, He is “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David” (Rev. 5:5). Those who fled from Alma and Amulek fled as goats. Goats are often used in the scriptures as an analogy for the wicked: “And before him [the Son of Man] shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left…. Then shall he say…unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:32-33,41). The Good Shepherd calls His sheep and they follow Him. The goats, those who will not hear His voice and follow Him, flee from before His presence just as they did from before Alma and Amulek.

As we study the scriptures we can learn many things and see many parallels with the life of the Savior. We may even see some parallels in our own lives.

Alma and Amulek as Types of Christ, Part 4

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After many days Alma and Amulek were once again visited in prison by the chief judge as well as teachers and lawyers. The chief judge hit them again and taunted, “If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words” (Alma 14:24). Throughout his crucifixion the Savior received similar taunts (see Luke 23:35; Mark 15:31-32; Matt. 27:42). After all the people visiting Alma and Amulek in prison had hit them and taunted them, Alma cried forth saying, “How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance” (Alma 14:26). In His infinite agony, the Savior cried similar words on the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mark 15:34; see also Matt. 27:46). After this cry, Alma and Amulek “broke the cords with which they were bound” (Alma 14:26). The Savior broke the cords of death, “And the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death” (Alma 11:42).

When Alma and Amulek broke their bonds, those who came to taunt and torment were afraid and started to flee (see Alma 14:26-27). Some (although they were not wicked), when seeing the empty tomb and hearing the angels proclaim Christ’s resurrection, had the same feeling of fear: “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed…for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). Those who fled from Alma and Amulek were so afraid that they “fell to the earth, and did not obtain the outer door of the prison” (Alma 14:27). Just as these wicked people did not make it out of the prison, the wicked who reject Christ remain in spirit prison. The prison then fell down around Alma and Amulek, “The earth shook mightily, and the walls of the prison were rent in twain”; those who were in the prison taunting Alma and Amulek “were slain by the fall [of the prison]” (Alma 14:27). At Christ’s death there were earthquakes in the Old World as well as the New: “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matt. 27:51; see also 3 Ne. 8). Those who reject the Lord suffer spiritual death just as those at Alma and Amulek’s prison suffered physical death.

Alma and Amulek “came forth out of the prison and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ…[for] they were loosed from their bands; and the prison had fallen to the earth” (Alma 14:28). Christ came forth from the prison of Death through the power of God, “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power” (1 Cor. 6:14); “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18). “And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins [and death]” (Hel. 5:11). Christ opened the prison doors for all that we will have power over death and be resurrected. He also opened the prison doors for others to be saved from spiritual death and hell through faith in His name.

Alma and Amulek as Types of Christ, Part 3

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Alma and Amulek, like the Savior, showed poise amid provocation, “And the Judge smote them again upon their cheeks, and asked: What say ye for yourselves?…And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek answered him nothing” (Alma 14:15,17). Before Herod, the Savior likewise said nothing, “He [Herod] questioned with him in many words; but [Jesus] answered him nothing” (Luke 23:9). After Alma and Amulek’s refusal to speak, the chief judge “smote them again, and delivered them to the officers to be cast into prison” (Alma 14:17). Jesus faced a similar experience, “And when [Pilate] had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified” (Matt. 27:26). The Savior was delivered unto crucifixion and the prison of death, which prison He would overcome and destroy. “And when [Alma and Amulek] had been cast into prison three days” (Alma 14:18) their incarceration was interrupted by more questioning from lawyers, judges, and church leaders. Unlike Alma and Amulek, the Savior rose and was freed from His prison, from the grave, on the third day (John 19:40-42; 20:1,9; Luke 24:46). Alma and Amulek, again like the Savior (see Mark 15:3), did not respond to the questions of the disingenuous and wicked civic and religious leaders (see Alma 14:18-19).

Many people “came forth also, and smote them” (Alma 14:20), just as the Savior was repeatedly smitten. Again, Alma and Amulek were mocked by those asking them why they did not save themselves. Alma and Amulek were further abused, “And many such things did they say unto [Alma and Amulek], gnashing their teeth upon them, and spitting upon them, and saying: How shall we look when we are damned?” (Alma 14:21). The Savior experienced all these same abuses. “The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth [meaning that they insulted the Savior and gnashed their teeth at Him]” (Matt 27:44). The High Priest and others “spit in [Jesus’] face, and buffeted him; and other smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” (Matt. 26:67-68).

Alma and Amulek spent more days in prison suffering mocking and derision. Their captors “did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked” (Alma 14:22). The Savior suffered similar thirst, “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth” (John 19:28-29; see also Mark 15:36). [This also leads to an interesting aside about prophecies. The Savior knew the scriptures about Himself: “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21) and He acted upon this knowledge to fulfill this prophecy. Prophecies often require effort to be fulfilled – they are not usually independent of human action. The other thing we learn from the scripture in Psalm 69 is that the Savior also was hungry and probably was offered something very unpleasant to eat, even though it is not mentioned in the Gospels. This further strengthens the relationship between Alma and Amulek’s sufferings and the Savior’s because Alma and Amulek were denied food and drink]. Also like Alma and Amulek, the Savior was stripped of His clothing: “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part” (John 19:23). Alma and Amulek, once stripped of clothing, “were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison” (Alma 14:22). The Savior, once crucified, likewise was bound with the cords of death and confined in the prison of the grave.

Alma and Amulek as Types of Christ, Part 2

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The narrative continues: “And the people went forth testifying against them – testifying that they had reviled against the law…and [had stated] that there was but one God, and that he should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them…. Now this was done before the chief judge of the land” (Alma 14:5). The Savior faced a similar experience: “Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days… And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy” (Matthew 26:55-66).

When forced to watch the awful burning of the innocent women and children, Amulek stated (after he had asked if they could save those being burned), “Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.” Alma replied, “Be it according to the will of the Lord” (Alma 14:13). The Savior made a similar statement in submitting His will to the Father’s in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Alma continued, “But, behold, our work is not finished” (Alma 14:13). The Lord had stated earlier in His life, “My time is not yet come [my work is not finished]” (John 7:6) but when he was crucified, His mortal work was finished (John 19:30).

Alma and Amulek were taken before the chief judge of the land, who “smote them with his hand upon their cheeks” (Alma 14:14). The Savior likewise was smitten, “And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him” (Luke 22:63). “And when he [the Savior] had thus spoken, one of the officers [of the High Priest] which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand” (John 18:22). The chief judge, when seeing that Alma and Amulek did nothing to save the women and children stated, “Behold, ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them because they were of thy faith” (Alma 14:15). The Savior was similarly mocked, “And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him…saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself…. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us” (Luke 23: 35-37,39). What those who mocked the Savior did not understand was that through His death He was bringing salvation from death for all and salvation from hell for all who follow Him.

Alma and Amulek as Types of Christ, Part 1

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The scriptures are rife with people whose experiences and characteristics serve as types and foreshadows of Christ’s life and sufferings. There were two missionaries who preached among a wicked people. One was a prophet and the other his recently-converted companion. Some of the clearest and most powerful teachings in the Book of Mormon are found in the teachings of this companionship. However, their most powerful sermon was not given to the crowd of lawyers and judges; it was not given to Zeezrom. Their most powerful sermon was given while they were in prison; it was given with few few words but powerful actions. Alma and Amulek were thrown in prison for speaking plainly against the wickedness of the people. The ensuing events closely parallel the final hours of the Savior’s life as well as his death and resurrection.

Lies were told about Alma and Amulek. Some said they were seditious – speaking against the laws and judges. These same lies were told of the Savior’s teachings: “And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King” (Luke 23:2; compare to Luke 20:25). The lawyers wanted to get rid of Alma and Amulek in secret, to “put them away privily” (Alma 14:3). The Savior also had a secret and illegal initial trial, “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover…. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” (John 18:28,31). Just as the religious leaders not able to put the Savior away privily in the end and had to have him condemned in a very public manner, neither were Alma and Amulek put away silently. Instead, the civic rulers took Alma and Amulek and “bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land” (Alma 14:4). Of the Savior, it is written: “And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes” (Mark 14:53). “AND straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate” (Mark 15:1). So both the Savior and Alma and Amulek were taken before the leaders of the land to receive their judgments.