When some people first start reading the Book of Mormon they are aghast to discover the story in which Nephi is required by the Lord to slay Laban. This incident is shown as the sons of Lehi go to Laban to procure the plates of brass, as commanded by the Lord.
First, we must remember how important these plates were. It is discussed that they were needed to not only preserve the language of their fathers, but also to help the people always remember the covenants that were made with their fathers to the Lord. We see the effects of a people without scriptures as we later learn the fate of the people that Mosiah discovers in the
At first, it may seem quite harsh for the Lord to have commanded Nephi to slay Laban, but after studying it, I have come to understand the principle of judging others from this incident, as combined with the principle of LAW.
In Matthew 7:1-2 the Savior warns us about the law of judging when he says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
In the course of the story in question, if you will recall, the brothers had several ideas about ways to gain the plates from Laban. The first plan they had was to cast lots and see who would simply go and ask for the plates, the lot fell on Laman, and this is what happened,
“And we cast lots—who of us should go in unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman; and Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house. And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father. And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee."
It is here that Laban passes judgment on Laman, calling him a robber and then inflicting the punishment for a robber, as death. Thus with what measure he judged he will be judged, as the law states.
The next plan was to go to their father's house and get the "inheritance" that was left behind and take it to Laban and try to "purchase" the plates from him. When Laban sees the gold and precious stuff they bring to try and buy the plates he "lusts" after it, "And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property. And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban."
Oh no, guess who is the actual robber in the story? Yep, you guessed it Laban. Now, remember the punishment Laban himself attaches to robbers, is death. When he passed judgment he cast his own fate.
As Nephi catches Laban in a drunken state he is reluctant to slay him but the Lord commands it. He is simply enforcing a "law" that he had already set, “and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again".
Hope this adds another insight to your study. At last, be careful not to pass unrighteous judgments, not only your life, but your eternal life may depend on it.