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Nephi and Laban's Sword

Laban owned a copy of the scriptures and a fine sword. 

Nephi attempted to buy access to those scriptures, and he offered everything he had to get them.

Laban stole the money but gave nothing in return except trying to kill Nephi in the process.

God responded by taking the scriptures and the sword from Laban, and his life besides.

All Nephi wanted was the greater access to the word of God that a copy of the scriptures would provide, but because he was willing to give a price equal to their true worth--everything he had--God responded  God gave him the sword too, and a kingdom besides.

When he had the scriptures, Laban kept them in a vault. Nephi distributed copies of the words, expounded their meaning as often as he could, and appointed others to teach them where and when he could not. 

When he had the sword, Laban kept it in its sheath, wearing it only as a status symbol, and unable to use it even to defend himself, let alone others. There was only one, so only one person could have it, but he made copies of it so that others could have their own. Nephi learned to use the sword, and he taught his people to use theirs. They used those swords to defend against the attacks that came.

Having been given scriptures and a sword, Laban failed to use either. Without having either, Nephi paid the price of obtaining both. He became the kind of person who would use a sword to defend his people, and would copy it to distribute it before he ever had a sword. He became the kind of person who would do anything to learn more from God, and would do everything to share what God taught him with others, before he ever had his own copy of the scriptures. Having merited what he did not yet have before he ever obtained it, when he obtained it, it became everlastingly his. To their community, it looked as if Laban had the sword and the scriptures, when in God's eyes, he was merely the steward to hold these things until Nephi came--whose right it was to wield both.

In a vivid and instructional twist of irony, God led Nephi to obtain the scriptures by killing Laban with his own sword--a sword Laban clearly did not bother to learn to use in spite of his having had it for so long. The very thing that should have prevented Laban from losing his head ended up being the instrument of his losing his head.

9 My son, you will ascend from the crushing burden that comes. You will be crushed down like an old lion, but it will turn to you like the crouching of a young lion; you will both roar and rest in mighty glory that nothing can disrupt.
10 The sword and crown of God will be kept and passed from generation to generation until he comes whose right they are, bringing people of all nations into the kingdom of God by revealing who he is and persuading them to believe in him.
11 He will take up the battle and attach the defiant people of God to the True Vine; He is the son of the Chosen, the branch of the Vine; He will wash his garments in wine, taking the blood of grapes as his covering.
12 His vision is actuated by his understanding of God, his judgment informed by the purity of God, and his words issue from the spirit of all truth. (Genesis 49, Author's Reflection)

This description--the blessing of Jacob on the son of Judah--was fulfilled, is fulfilled, and will be fulfilled in completion by the Savior Jesus Christ. Echoes of it are lived by every one of his servants, to the extent they are like him.