Thursday Thoughts

— by Donna Mitchell

I haven’t been to Relief Society since I came back to New England. Instead, I have been substituting for my old Primary class the past two weeks, with more to come. Senior Primary is studying the Book of Mormon this year, just like the Sunday School gospel doctrine class.

This past Sunday we discussed 1 Nephi 16. Lots of things happen in this chapter. Nephi, his brothers, and Zoram all marry Ishmael’s daughters. The Lord tells Lehi to have his family take their journey again into the wilderness. The next morning they find the Liahona, which works as a compass and also as a frequently updated manual of instructions. As they travel in stages to the borders of the Red Sea, stopping to rest and hunt for food, they discover that the Liahona only works if they are righteous.

Nephi’s fine steel bow breaks and his brothers are angry with him. Their bows have lost their spring, so they are counting on him to provide food. Everyone suffers from hunger, and even Lehi murmurs. Nephi “speaks much” to his brothers and makes a new bow and arrow of wood. Then he asks his father where he should go to hunt. Lehi’s family has humbled themselves because of Nephi’s words, so the Lord speaks to Lehi and tells him to look at the writing on the Liahona. He, Nephi’s brothers, and Ishmael’s sons and daughters “fear and tremble exceedingly” because of what was written. I had never really noticed this before, although I have read it several times. What was written that caused them to be so afraid? Nephi doesn’t say, but I don’t think it was very comforting.

Then there is a “new writing” which tells Nephi where to hunt. We also have the familiar quote, “And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Nephi slays multiple beasts and his family is joyful, humble and thankful to the Lord. They travel again.

Ishmael dies and his daughters “mourn exceedingly” and want to go home to Jerusalem. Laman tries to enlist Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael to slay Lehi and Nephi. Laman just can’t accept the idea of Nephi being their leader, and says he lies when he talks about an angel ministering unto him. (Laman has a very short memory when it comes to the Lord helping Nephi.) The Lord speaks to the family with his own voice, “many words” which “did chasten them exceedingly,” so they give up their anger (for the time being) and the Lord blesses them with food, again. End of chapter.

In a way, I found this chapter depressing because of the constant rebellion of Laman and Lemuel, a continuation of past rebellion and a precursor of things to come. However, it also shows Nephi as constantly faithful, willing to ask the Lord for help and to follow his instructions.

Another scripture cited in the lesson sums up the whole theme: Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

 

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