Faith, Religion & Scripture, Notes & Essays by David Rodeback

Short Take: A Psalm of Alma

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter. We focused on the Book of Mormon in 2013. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there.

In the “Psalm of Nephi” (2 Nephi 4:6-15), Nephi laments “the temptations and sins which do so easily beset me” (2 Nephi 4:18). But then he contemplates the blessings of God to him, and sorrow turns to joy and determination.

In Alma 31 we see Alma grieving for his people’s wickedness. He goes among the Zoramites to “try the virtue of the word of God” (v. 5). Seeing their wickedness up close, he is astonished and cannot contain his sorrow.

In what we might call a psalm of Alma, he cries out, “O how long, O Lord, will thou suffer that thy servants shall dwell here below in the flesh, to behold such gross wickedness among the children of men?” (v. 26). He pleads for strength, comfort, and patience for himself and his companions. Then he prays:

“O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ. Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee” (vv. 34-35).

Love and determination replace sorrow. He blesses his companions, and they get to work, “filled with the Holy Spirit” (v. 36) and having their afflictions “swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (v. 38). It is a pattern for righteous action in a wicked world.