14 Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
15 And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
There’s a delicate balance in these verses, both in the behavior of the Nephites and in their expectations.
- Behavior: Mormon tells us that the Nephite were taught to defend themselves but “never to give an offense.” This balance of readiness to fight in self-defense while never provoking an attack requires self-discipline and accurate perception.
- Expectations: They believed that, if they followed the Lord’s commandments, He would protect them. However, they didn’t expect Him to do all the work, and they recognized that He might protect them in multiple ways, including by urging them to prepare to fight or to flee.