Sam: An Unsung Hero

Are you sick of being bullied, even by people you thought you were your friends, because of your beliefs? Do you sometimes wish that your efforts were more appreciated? Then Sam, one of Lehi’s sons in the Book of Mormon, could probably relate to you a lot.

At first glance, Sam really seems to have gotten the short end of the stick, so to speak. After all, Laman and Lemuel hit Sam with a rod as well as Nephi. Sam was among the group that Laman, Lemuel, and many from Ishmael’s family rebelled against in the wilderness. His life was also put in danger when Laman and Lemuel jeopardized the family’s journey across the ocean by tying up Nephi. To top it all off, Sam’s younger brother was eventually chosen as both a spiritual and political leader over Sam in the Promised Land.

Despite the sacrifices Sam made for God’s cause, he doesn’t seem to be remembered very often. He is mentioned only a handful of times the Book of Mormon. He was the eldest of Lehi’s righteous sons but still falls dead last in Mormon’s list of the righteous brothers (Alma 3:6). Even the angel who came to rescue Nephi and Sam from being beaten by Laman and Lemuel apparently failed to mention Sam.

What gives? If Sam made the right choices, why did he end up getting all the drawbacks of being on the Lord’s side but none of the glory?

We may sometimes ask similar questions about our own lives. “Why should I stand up for the leaders of the church if I just get picked on for it?” “Why doesn’t anyone notice the work I do for my family and ward?” “Why was that person chosen ahead of me for that calling?” But we can learn from Sam that trials and a shortage of praise aren’t the end of the world.

It’s true that Sam’s name doesn’t come up often. But do you ever remember hearing anything bad about him? Nephi, Lehi, and Mormon each give Sam glowing praise in phrases like:

  • “And it came to pass that he believed in my words.”
  • “I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi and also of Sam.”
  • “Thou shalt be blessed in all thy days.”
  • “And all who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God.”
  • “A just and holy man.”

Quite the tribute, huh? If Sam had been able to choose words to be remembered by, he couldn’t have chosen words much better than those. We can trust that, even if it takes longer than we’d like, God and those who follow Him will recognize our goodness.

Some may feel that eventual recognition isn’t enough. Some people may feel that Sam was cheated in never becoming the ruler that Nephi became. But Sam’s loyalty led to him gaining much more than a kingship:

  • A testimony of God’s plan
  • An inheritance in the Promised Land
  • Relative safety and peace with the saints
  • A family raised in the Gospel
  • The promise of eternal life

From an eternal perspective, Nephi and other Book of Mormon characters more famous than Sam got nothing more than Sam did. Each of them learned that partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life—in other words, partaking of Christ’s Atonement—was the most treasured and joyful blessing. So the next time you wonder whether being quietly righteous is worth the effort, remember Sam. God will certainly remember you.

 

What Sam Did What We Can Do
Believed Nephi’s words (1 Nephi 2:17) Trust in others’ testimonies until we gain our own
Remained loyal to Nephi (1 Nephi 3:28, 7:6) Resist peer pressure and stand for the truth
Ate the fruit of the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 8:14-16) Use Christ’s Atonement in our daily lives
Obeyed despite affliction (1 Nephi 17:1,3) Remain obedient and trust that God will help us
Followed Nephi and other saints (2 Nephi 5:6) Follow the prophets and the Holy Ghost
Allowed Nephi to be the leader (2 Nephi 5:18-19) Humbly sustain our church leaders

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