Pearls of Wisdom
044 - 2 Nephi 4 - Nephi's Lament / Arm of Flesh
Monday, June 13, 2016 - 2 Nephi 4 - Nephi's Lament / Arm of Flesh
Adam, just like you, Nephi is a good son. By this chapter he is also much further down the road than you. He has proven to also be a good father, a good man, and yet to read the inner thoughts of his heart you can see that he is just a man like you and I. His heart is set upon the things of God, yet he finds himself beset with the diverse temptations of the world. This chapter is known by many as "Nephi's Lament" and/or "Nephi's Psalm".
LAMENT - a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.
2 Nephi 4
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted...
As you read the chapter, in the first half please give thought to which offspring are receiving which blessing/warning. The second half is all Nephi bearing testimony of God's goodness, his desires, and his shortcomings. This is a chapter I have come back to re-read many times in my life.
PLEASE READ THE CHAPTER NOW
Pretty powerful, isn't it?
I hadn't realized before that verses 5-7 were not given to all the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Instead, it was directed to Laman's first, then Lemuel's, and apparently to Ishmael's as well.
2 Nephi 4
5 But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.
6 Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents.
7 Wherefore, because of my blessing the Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish; wherefore, he will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever.
Once we get to Sam's offspring the blessing changes. Very little fanfare is given to the fact that Lehi dies in this chapter. The only mention is made to solidify the actions in verse 13...
2 Nephi 4
13 And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.
The families of Laman, Lemuel, and Ishmael were angry due to the difference in blessings and promises. The full account was kept from us, but apparently Father Lehi and Nephi spake many harsh things to those families, as directed by the Lord. Nephi uses the word constrained, of which I always thought meant to hold back. And while it can mean to hold back, it also can mean...
CONSTRAINED - forced, compelled, or obliged
In this case Nephi was going forth and doing what the Lord commanded, not really wanting to have to do it. Have you ever found yourself being in that position? As an umpire, it happens on the ball fields all the time.
It was interesting researching the chapter and come to find out that the latter half of the chapter is also referred to as a Psalm, just like those found in the Old Testament. Consider this...
LDS scholar Matthew Nickerson established that Nephi’s Psalm fit the biblical psalm type termed “individual lament,” which has five structural units: 1) invocation, 2) complaint, 3) confession of trust, 4) petition, and 5) vow of praise.
Invocation: 2 Ne 4:16-17
Complaint: 2 Ne 4:17-19
Confession of Trust: 2 Ne 4:20-30
Petition: 2 Ne 4:31-33
Vow of Praise: 2 Ne 4:34-35
And while all of that is interesting, we cannot overlook the beauty of Nephi's natural man struggles. We each have crosses to bear. We cannot ever opt to give up. We must continually reach heavenward for strength from our loving Father in Heaven and wake up each day with a new resolve to be better. If we never give up the fight, then we will eventually win the battle against the arm of flesh!
Make it a great day!