In Hebrew, the word “Leb” (pron. Labe) consists of a Lamed and Bet character (לֵב) (shown right to left in modern Hebrew, the post image showing ancient Hebrew).
The ancient language symbol for the Lamed is an ox goad (or also a shepherd staff). Bet’s symbol is a house. This is significant.
The word is used 593 times in the Old Testament. Most often it is translated as heart (508 times), then a small number of times as mind, midst, understanding, wisdom, friendly, and a few others.
What is the purpose of an ox goad? To prick cattle and get them into motion going where you want them to. It was also used as a weapon. They could be several feet long and have spear tips, hooks, or blunt metal attached at the end.
What is a house? A dwelling place, abode, a residence. Our bodies are temples that house our inner self, our spirit, and in scripture, our heart.
There are 3 verses of scripture that use this concept in a sentence and it makes perfect sense.
Psalms 73:21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. [Oak: kidneys, figuratively the mind as the interior self]
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Jarom 1:12 And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.
The words of wisdom, particularly the word of God, pricks our hearts, prodding our spirits to take or resist action. It is the purpose of the Light of Christ to be our conscience and remind us of our moral duties and right actions.
In Ecclesiastes 12:11 we read, “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.”
To resist is to fight God. That doesn’t turn out well. The Lord appeared to Saul and told him this:
Acts 9:5. And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
The Lord further elaborated in Doctrine and Covenants 121 telling us that those who work by compulsion instead of persuasion, seek to cover their sins and gratify their pride, have the heavens withdraw from them. They are:
38. …left unto [themselves], to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
This is the state many have arrived at when the spirit ceases striving (contending) with their consciences. If the heart can’t be pricked and softened by an ox goad, why keep trying? God lets agency reign supreme and people degenerate as they choose.
7 verses in the Book of Mormon describe this state. Here’s a couple but you can find them all with this search in Scripture Notes (the asterisks are wildcards and the + is an “and” operator so both words are included in the search):
Search: cease* +striv*
2 Nephi 26: 11. For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul.
Ether 15:19. But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.
It is a sad state when individuals and nations go so far into the dark through wickedness and pride that they do not have the capacity to recover. It is a mercy when God allows them to be removed from the earth to prevent others of his children from being born into hopeless situations for salvation.
If not for the atonement of Jesus Christ, none would make it.
Isaiah 53:6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Why do I share this thought? The Hebrew language is amazing and is all the logical proof one needs that there is a God.
Just consider the complexity of a language where characters have symbolic style, conceptual meaning in the imagery, and spiritual meaning behind them. No mortal devised such a language.
“Leb” is literally and figuratively having our heart pricked by God to stay in the right way.
God is so good to prick our hearts. We need to stop resisting and kicking. In the end we’ll lose.