Out of all the characters in the book, isn’t Sam your favorite? Always there, always a solid support, never flinching in his duty, always there for Nephi . . . Oh, you probably thought I was talking about Sam from Lord of the Rings. Well, this applies to him too, and to be fair, most people who read the Book of Mormon are unlikely to claim Sam as their favorite character. Why is it that the dutiful brother is forgotten and the dutiful gardener immortalized? It might have to do with the way they’re presented.
These two Sams actually have remarkable similarities. Neither is the main character of their narrative. Both are faithful and diligent in trials, despite receiving no recognition. Both are great examples of obedience, faith, and brotherhood. Let’s start with Sam from The Book of Mormon.
Nephi’s non-rebellious brother never speaks in the narrative provided us in first and second Nephi. His father names no geographical locations after him, and The Lord never speaks directly to him. But Sam never joins in Laman and Lemuel’s rebellions, and he is praised by his father as a constant friend to his brother, Nephi.
Samwise Gamgee was an ordinary gardener until the foresight of a wizard dragged him into an adventure larger than himself. He never used the ring, he never received any great magical gifts, and he doesn’t receive the accolades awarded even to Merry and Pippin. But he gladly does what he knows to be right and never gives up in his appointed tasks.
So many of us are like Sam — either one, really. Not all of us can be the prophet, or a bishop, or even a Relief Society president. Most of us simply need to be willing to do whatever tasks we are assigned, without murmuring or rebelling, and thus gain God’s favor. Nephi’s brother Sam may have been jealous of his little brother’s connection with God, but he didn’t let that stop him from supporting God’s chosen servant. Samwise had a chance to take the Ring to Mt. Doom himself, and especially in the films, there’s good reason to believe that he would’ve been a better ring-bearer than Frodo in any case. But he trusted his friend, as well as the wizard — see ‘Holy Ghost’ — that had declared that Frodo should hold that position.
Doing our duties in church, in marriage, and in society is not always pleasant, but like these two Sams, it is often the best thing that we can do to help the grander scheme of things move along.
Richard Pack is a Junior majoring in English at Utah State University. He is very much a nerd and blames his mom for his love of books and reading in general. He is happily married and currently writing a collection of short stories he intends to publish.