Mosiah 21 – Phases of Humility

Limhi’s people go back to their homes and live in peace, but not for very long. The Lamanites are stirred up to anger against them again. Because of the oath their king has made with King Limhi, they can’t outright slay them. But they being to “smite them on their cheeks, and exercise authority over them; and began to put heavy burdens upon their backs, and drive them as they would a dumb ass.” (3)

Limhi’s people are now in bondage, in fulfillment of the Lord’s words given to them by the prophet Abinadi, who they had slain. Sin eventually catches up to the sinner, whether in this life or the next.

Now, their “afflictions…were great, and there was no way that they could deliver themselves out of their hands, for the Lamanites had surrounded them on every side.” (5)

We will all feel as Limhi’s people at time, weighed down under afflictions, in bondage. Mortal life is a test. We wouldn’t learn anything without going through trials.

But instead of turning to the Lord for deliverance, Limhi’s people seek revenge upon their enemy. They’ve lived for many years under a wicked king and are still not as humble as they need to be.

They “murmur with the king because of their afflictions…” (6)

We know from Lehi’s family’s story that murmuring never brings positive results. It usually only compounds our problems.

The next mistake they make is they are “desirous to go against them to battle.” (6) They sought to fix their own problems, instead of counseling with the Lord in humility. They believe in their own might and power, not God’s yet.

So they go up against the Lamanites with their armor and their might. But “it came to pass that the Lamanites did beat them, and drove them back, and slew many of them.” (8)

Left to their own power, they failed to free themselves.

They mourn and grieve, and there are now a “great many widows in the land.” (10) Their cries of mourning “stir up the remainder of the people of Limhi to anger against the Lamanites.” (11)

Anger never leads to righteous actions.

Even Nephi, who was commanded to slay Laban, didn’t kill out of anger. He was commanded and shown how the man had tried to thwart God’s will, and so he needed to be eliminated. But I imagine he experienced sadness at having to take his life.

Anger leads them to go up against the Lamanites a second time and be driven back—and then a “third time; and suffered in like manner.” (12)

First Phase

After three decisive defeats, Limhi’s people finally “did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies.” (13)

This was their first phase of humility—worldly humility that was forced upon them because of their failures.

Second Phase

The next verse shows that they finally step into the second phase of humility—that of repentance before God. They are finally willing to acknowledge a higher power than themselves.

And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.

Mosiah 21:14

The depths of humility implies that this is godly sorrow. This kind of humility makes us look at ourselves and our desires—really deeply—and realize we have been in the wrong and need to make course corrections.

Many years ago at church, a speaker talked about when her husband got diagnosed with cancer, she became super bitter and angry. Why did God do this to them? Why wouldn’t He heal her husband?

Her husband finally told her, “I don’t want you to be bitter if I die. We need to change our attitude and love cancer, love all we learn about ourselves through dealing with it.”

She said her whole mindset changed after that. She worked and prayed hard…and obviously entered into the depths of humility to overcome her bitterness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, so she could eventually come to love cancer and the lessons she was taught through this experience with it.


The Nephites humbled themselves and submitted themselves to be smitten, driven, and burdened. Maybe at times we have to submit ourselves to our afflictions, instead of crying about them and wishing God would take them away. Maybe at times, His will is for us to learn from our afflictions lessons we could not learn in any other way.

  • Will I submit myself to the depths of humility in whatever challenge or affliction God places before me?
  • Will I find God by entering this state of true learning and refinement, by trusting His will implicitly, whatever happens?

And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage.”

Mosiah 21:15

I love the part that says—nevertheless, the Lord DID hear their cries.

Even when the heavens seems silent, God does hear our cries for deliverance—whether it be from physical bondage like slavery, addictions, bad habits, financial oppression, or pain to the spiritual bondage of sin—and He WILL answer in His time frame.

These people had rebelled against Him for a long time—so God was slow to deliver them when they cried out to Him.

We can’t sin and then ask that the consequences be taken away and expect Him to think we’re sincere. He allowed them time to suffer and discover their deepest desires of their hearts. But even then, He was answering their prayers immediately—even if they couldn’t see it. God softened the hearts of their enemies so they weren’t as cruel and horrible as they were in the beginning.

Their burdens were eased, but not taken away yet.

And it came to pass that they began to prosper by degrees in the land, and began to raise grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds, that they did not suffer with hunger.”

Mosiah 21:16

When we turn to the Lord, we are promised deliverance. But it might not come in the way we expect or want. It might not come as fast as we want either. We have to be humble enough to allow His will to become ours. Only then will we prosper in degrees, until we are delivered completely from that which keeps us from being free.


Limhi is a just king who is trying his best to do right by his people. As a consequence of their three battles, there are a great number of widows and fatherless children. Limhi makes sure these are all cared for, so they don’t go hungry. I think taking this step showed God the condition of their hearts.

When we care for our fellowmen, God is more likely to help us.

…the people of Limhi kept together in a body as much as it was possible, and secured their grain and their flocks.

Mosiah 21:18

They were in bondage to their enemies, so they banded together as much as possible and secured that which would nourish them.

  • Do I surround myself with uplifting, inspiring people as much as is possible?
  • Do I secure my testimony of Jesus Christ, that nourishes my spirit, so that my enemies cannot steal it or whittle away at its foundation? 


Most of their afflictions came because of the wicked priests of Noah, who are still hiding in the wilderness. They stole the daughters of the Lamanites and caused the people to be brought into bondage and be afflicted because the Lamanites are now angry. They keep sneaking in and stealing provisions. So the people lie in wait for them, hoping to catch them.

Instead of finding those wicked men, they find Ammon and his brethren, who have come from the city of Zarahemla from whence the people of Limhi originated. Limhi rejoices when he discovers where they are from. He feels they are an answer to his prayers. 

Previous to this time, he had sent out men to search for Zarahemla. They had become lost and found another land instead, littered with bones and a record of a people who had been destroyed. Limhi rejoices when he learns from Alma that king Mosiah has a gift to translate. He wants to know what’s on the record.

Ammon grieves to learn of so much death among his people, and also of Abinadi’s death. He sorrows that Alma and his people are gone and they don’t know where they’ve relocated.

Limhi and many of his people have now taken upon themselves to “covenant with God…to serve him and keep his commandments.” (32) They want to be baptized, but Ammon doesn’t feel worthy to do so. They must wait until a later date for the blessings of baptism.

They put all their efforts into studying out ways to get free from their Lamanite oppressors. Even though they are now humble, God still doesn’t just magically set them free. He made them be patient and study out solutions for themselves, before He will enable the miracles to happen.

What phase of humility am I in right now? Doing things by my own power? Forced humility? Depths of Humility? Submission to God? Patience and trust that God will deliver me? Service to others to relieve their burdens while I wait on God?

If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these comments.

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