What Does It Mean to “Succor” Someone?

succour – to help someone, especially someone who is suffering or in need (Cambridge English Dictionary)

succor – Literally, to run to, or run to support; hence, to help or relieve when in difficulty, want or distress; to assist and deliver from suffering; as, to succor a besieged city; to succor prisoners (Webster’s Dictionary, 1828 edition)

The word “succor” comes from the Latin word succurrere, which means “to run to help.” (The word for “run” in Latin is currere.)

The word appears twice in the King James translation of the New Testament. Both times, it is a translation of the Greek word boétheó (βοηθέω), which means “to run and meet an urgent cry for help.” (Boé is a heartfelt cry for help. while theó means “to run.”)

So the word means to help, but not in an ordinary, everyday sense. It means to answer a distress call immediately. To succor is to recognize that another person is in desperate need of assistance and to respond with the urgency that the situation demands.

The word appears nine times in the Book of Mormon, in the following contexts:

  • King Benjamin taught that disciples of Christ are to “succor those that stand in need of…succor” (Mosiah 4:16, Alma 4:13). Specifically, when a “beggar putteth up his petition,” they “administer of [their] substance unto him that standeth in need,” including “feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants” (Mosiah 4:26).
  • Captain Moroni taught that people in a position of power will be held accountable if they fail to succor those who are in need. Negligence is a serious sin which can have devastating consequences (Alma 60:5-8).
  • Alma taught that the Savior took upon Himself our infirmities so that He would know “according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12). The Apostle Paul similarly taught that the Savior “suffered being tempted” so that He would be “able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
  • King Limhi observed that his people had suffered for an extended period of time after rejecting the message of the prophet Abinadi. He concluded that the Lord will withhold succor from those who deliberately rebel against Him. But he promised his people that, if they would “turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put [their] trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind,” He would provide the relief they needed (Mosiah 7:29-33). The Lord is willing and able to succor us, but we must be willing to receive His help.

As we learn from the hymn “How Firm a Foundation,” the Lord can provide many different kinds of succor to us, appropriate to the circumstances in which we find ourselves:

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand,… so thy succor shall be.

Today, I will be grateful that the Savior is able and willing to succor me. I will turn my heart to Him and trust that He will answer my cries for help. I will also strive to be aware of the needs of the people around me and “succor those that stand in need of [my] succor,” providing immediate assistance as needed. I will remember the imagery of running, not walking, to answer a cry for help.

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