I am a little worried about writing this post. 2 Nephi 4 is a glorious chapter of the Book of Mormon and we get some great insight into who Nephi was as a man and a prophet. Verses 15-35 is what is considered Nephi’s psalm and this is really where he shares with us his heart.
The study skill for this week is still flag phrases and I counted 30 of them total, so I would please encourage you to read through the whole chapter and stop at each of those flag phrases (behold, wherefore, yea, and it came to pass and nevertheless) and ponder for a moment what it is that Nephi is telling us.
Chapter 4 of 2 Nephi opens with Nephi recounting the prophesies that his father Lehi had spoken of regarding Joseph of old, the Joseph that we learn of in Genesis. In verse 2 we see the first flag phrase “behold.” In our language today, verse 2 might read something like this: “Stop, you have to understand, Joseph of old, Israel’s son, really did prophecy about every offspring that would connect to his family tree. The things that Joseph prophesied of are amazing and there are not many that are as great as his! Not only did he prophesy, but his prophesy is about you and me and our children and their children. And Nephi recorded this prophesy on the plates of brass.”
Verse 3 would maybe read like this: “Therefore, after Lehi finished talking about Joseph’s prophecies, he had his grandchildren that were Laman’s children come in to speak to him. My beloved grandchildren, please, please listen to what I have to say.”
Lehi then poured a blessing out for these children that he had to have loved so much. He loved his grandchildren so much that he was willing to take upon his head and his wife’s head any cursing that they may have. He felt that it was his wrong doing as a parent, as if he and Sariah had failed their children, both Laman and Lemuel. Lehi wanted to preserve his grandchildren that they would have blessings from the Lord and that he would take fault for his children’s errors and the things that they may have taught their grandchildren incorrectly. Lehi gave this same blessing to all of his grandchildren from Laman and Lemuel.
Next, Lehi spoke to the entire household of Ishmael and then to his son Sam. Lehi blesses San telling him that he will inherit land, just like Nephi and that Sam’s family will be just like Nephi’s.
In verse 12, Lehi dies and is buried. In verse 13 we learn that just a few days after Lehi’s passing that Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael are angry with Nephi because of the admonitions of the Lord. Verse 14 tells us that they are angered because Nephi had to talk to them, as did Lehi prior to his passing, about their poor behavior and choices. I know I have written about it before, but I will write a bit again…. Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael have been taught what is right, they have agency, as do you and I. They choose to not do right, they choose to harden their hearts and they choose to not hold to the rod of iron. It was a choice for them, as it is for each of us.
Verse 15 begins Nephi’s psalm and this is where I don’t think I feel that I can give justice in my writing to how beautiful Nephi is as a prophet and a man. He is so very humble and clearly a gentle, loving soul. I love how the 21 verses give depth to Nephi and we truly do get a look inside his soul. Nephi tells us that his “soul delighteth in the scriptures,” do yours? I know that I am making progress toward this. His “soul delighteth in the things of the Lord.” Nephi tells us that his heart exclaims that he is a wretched man when he ponders on the goodness of God and all that he has been shown and that he grieves because of his sins and short comings. Nephi recognizes that he is an imperfect man, yet he is a prophet and I appreciate this so much. Nephi shares more joy and sorrow and he tells us how to grow…. he tells us that he prays. He prays at night and he prays by day and this how it’s done. In verse 32 Nephi asks “may the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!” Nephi asks for help, he is pleading with our Heavenly Father to help him stay on that straight and narrow path. I love that I can compare myself to a prophet and by reading the things that Nephi felt and prayed for, that I can know that I am on an okay road and that I can continually ask for help.
I ask each of you to study these 21 verses and take some guidance from Nephi, he truly was a great man! And I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.