What a tremendous prophet of God was young Nephi! President Heber J. Grant said, “I read the Book of Mormon as a young man, and fell in love with Nephi more than with any other character … except the Savior of the world. No other individual has made such a strong impression upon me as did Nephi. He has been one of the guiding stars of my life.” (Gospel Standards, 357.)
1 Nephi 1:1, 3 The Preparation of a Prophet
What things did Nephi mention in verse 1 that had prepared him to write what would become scripture? (goodly parents, taught in the learning of his father, many afflictions, highly favored of the Lord, great knowledge of God’s goodness and mysteries).
What experiences have we had, which have prepared us to do our part in the Lord’s work? In verse 3 Nephi bears testimony of the truthfulness of his record, drawing us in to pay careful attention.
1 Nephi 1:6-7 A Pattern of Spiritual Gifts
Lehi has a heavenly manifestation (or vision) which begins a pattern in Nephi’s record, similar to all prophets. In these few chapters, other heavenly manifestations and interventions are recorded in:
|● 1:8-15||Lehi’s vision of the Father and the Son, causing his soul and heart to rejoice|
|● 2:1-2||The Lord speaks to Lehi in a dream and instructs him to flee with his family|
|● 2:14||The Spirit fills Lehi with power and he confounds his murmuring sons|
|● 2:16||The Lord visits Nephi and softens his heart, increasing his faith|
|● 3:2-4||The Lord instructs Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass|
|● 3:29||An angel appears to rebuke Laman and Lemuel, who had been smiting Nephi and Sam|
|● 4:6||Nephi is led by the Spirit to obtain the plates of brass|
|● 4:10-18||The Spirit prompts Nephi to slay Laban, giving him multiple reasons to obey|
|● 5:17-19||The Spirit inspires Lehi to prophesy concerning his seed and the plates of brass|
|● 7:1-2||The Lord tells Lehi to send his sons to Jerusalem again, to bring the family of Ishmael|
|● 7:17-18||The Lord immediately answers Nephi’s prayer and delivers him from his brethren|
We would do well to consider the pattern of spiritual gifts the Lord has granted to each of us.
1 Nephi 1:20 Tender Mercies
Nephi calls the Lord’s protection of his father a tender mercy. He then promises to “show unto [us] that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” This becomes a major theme of Nephi’s 55 chapters; there being dozens of instances of the Lord’s goodness in the lives of those of the faithful and ways they were “delivered.”
As each of us considers the goodness of God in our lives, we may see many ways in which He has repeatedly delivered us and blessed us.
1 Nephi 2:11-13 The Sin of Murmuring
The reason Laman and Lemuel murmured against their father was not because he was a visionary man; rather “they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (verse 12).
When we are tempted to murmur, we must consider whether we are revealing our ignorance of God’s will in our lives!
1 Nephi 3:4-7 Go and Do
Laman and Lemuel return to their murmuring, but Nephi is “favored of the Lord” because he had not murmured (verse 6). Nephi verbalizes his attitude by stating, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded,” explaining, “for I know … he shall prepare a way” (verse 7). What experiences in Nephi’s subsequent life show that he truly was willing to “go and do”? Perhaps each of us can think of experiences wherein the Lord “prepared the way” for us to do what He has asked. This is the Lord’s work and He is able to accomplish it, even as He works through weak vessels such as ourselves!
1 Nephi 3:11-13, 24-26 and 1 Nephi 4:1-3, 6-7, 38 We Can Do Hard Things (with God’s Help)
- What was the first plan for obtaining the plates? (Go to Laban’s house and ask for them.)
- What was the result? (Laban threw Laman out and threatened to kill him.)
- What was the second plan? (Exchange the family riches for the plates.)
- What was the result? (Laban stole their property and sent his servants to kill them.)
- What was the third plan? (Go back, be faithful and strong, do not doubt, and rely on the Spirit.)
- What was the result? (The Lord tailored the circumstances, allowing Nephi to obtain the plates.)
As in 4:6, being “led by the Spirit” often means “not knowing” what you will do nor what will happen—you simply go. As Nephi said, “Nevertheless [without clarity], I went forth” (4:7). He didn’t wait to be told what to do; he just went. When we do not see the way, we can have confidence that God can lead us, even in the dark of night.
1 Nephi 3:14-15 Spiritual Tenacity
After their first failure to obtain the plates from Laban, all four brothers were “exceedingly sorrowful,” but Nephi was the one who was not “about to return unto my father in the wilderness.” Instead, Nephi declared, “As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.” Nephi might have said, “Well, we tried but it didn’t work.” But he had previously expressed his conviction that the Lord would prepare the way—and Nephi may have sensed that the way would be difficult. Nephi swears an oath by God’s life and by his own life, making success the only option.
1 Nephi 5:1-8 Loving Communication
Sariah mourned over what she perceived as the loss of her sons. She also “complained against” her husband (verses 2-3), but Lehi’s response was kind and loving: “I know that I am a visionary man … I know that the Lord will deliver my sons.” Lehi did not lash out at Sariah, but rather he bore his testimony to her and he comforted her (verses 4-6). What followed was a reunion with their sons that was “full of joy,” upon which Sariah took a turn to bear her own testimony, saying twice, “I know of a surety” (verses 7-8). In addition to attesting to the hand of the Lord in their lives, Lehi demonstrated a charitable approach in his marriage relationship, setting a Christlike example for us in all our personal interactions.
1 Nephi 6:3-6 Holy Writ
What things did Nephi say were not to be written on the plates? (things which are pleasing to the world; things which are not of worth).
What things did he say he desired to write? (the things of God; things that persuade men to come unto God and be saved; things which are pleasing to God and to those who are not of the world).
Nephi’s priorities are exemplary as we consider some of the things we read, write, post online, watch, spend money on, and so forth. Like Nephi, “the things of God” should drive our agendas and our endeavors.
1 Nephi 7:6-12 Spiritual Forgetfulness
Laman and Lemuel have an up-and-down spirituality and these verses reveal at least one reason. Nephi asks them three times how they could have forgotten blessings that could have kept them even-keeled (verses 10-12). Apparently, seeing an angel and other evidences of God’s role in our lives are not enough to keep one spiritually balanced, for such events do not bring the Spirit into hard hearts. In fact, we may even forget that such things have happened. But humble hearts remember God’s goodness and seek the Spirit daily through simple, holy habits, such as prayer, scripture study, and repentance.