Monday, April 16, 2012

Nephi's Soul, Saved By Grace (2 Nephi 4, part 2)

A scene from Mr. Holland's Opus
Play The Sunset
There is a scene from the movie Mr. Holland's Opus where Mr. Holland is trying to encourage a high school girl who wants to quit the clarinet because she just can't get it, despite lots of practice, to keep trying.  She's wants to play Theme From A Summer Place.  After many mistakes, Mr. Holland has the idea to take her music away from her (because she knows the notes) and have her try to play the music while she envisions what she likes most about herself.  I really like this scene; I think most people do.  She says that she likes her red hair the most because her Dad says it reminds him of the sunset.  Mr. Holland says, "Play the sunset."  The girl closes her eyes and plays the song without a mistake. Mr. Holland was trying to teach her to play, not from the notes on the page, but from her heart, from her soul.

Anudder scene from Opus

I like a Gershwin tune; how 'bout you?  Then there's this udder scene where Mr. Holland advises anudder girl how to sing a Gershwin song.  He explains that she needs to know what the song is about.  She needs to know what the subject in the song is feeling in her gut, and then sing from her gut.  Her rendition made Someone To Watch Over Me one of my favorite songs.

Nephi has just buried his Dad.  His brothers got ticked at him again.  Nephi preached to them again, 'cause that's what Nephi does, but Laman and Lemuel ain't having none of it.  We don't have details of this conversation, but I think it's safe to assume it wasn't pretty.  Nephi wrote down the details, but on his other plates, which were part of the lost 116 pages of translation that Joseph Smith loaned to Martin Harris.

2 Nephi 4: 14-16
14.  For I, Nephi, was constrained to speak unto them, according to His word; for I had spoken many things unto them, and also my father, before his death, many of which sayings are written upon mine other plates; for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.

15.  And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass.  For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

16.  Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of The Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.

So, what does Nephi write when he sings from his guts?  2 Nephi 4: 15-35 is known as "The Psalm of Nephi".  I was going to only quote a few verses of this chapter 'cause I figured don't have to write it all down when you can read it for yourselves, which I exhort you to do, but I couldn't not do it.  My heart delights too much in some of these chapters, and chapter 4 is a big one for me.  It teaches such  beautiful truth.

2 Nephi 4: 17-18
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.

Wait a minute, this is Nephi we're talking about, right?  "The temptations and sins which do so easily beset me"?  Nephi? 

Not my favorite style of scripture art, but...
Nephi is pretty upset in these verses.  He must have done something awful.  What did he do?

2 Nephi 4: 26-29
26.  O then, if I have seen so great things, if The Lord in His condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

27.  And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh?  Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?  Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

28.  Awake, my soul!  No longer droop in sin.  Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

29.  Do not anger again because of my enemies.  Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

Sounds like Nephi's sin is anger.  Who is he angry at?  His enemy.  Who is his enemy, his brothers?  No, I think he's talking about Satan.  Right?  "No longer droop in sin.  Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul."  Maybe his original sinful behavior was reacting in anger to his brothers bitter aggression towards him, but I think his regret is that he allowed Satan room in his heart, to bring him down to their level and push the Spirit of The Lord away.

Man, Nephi is such a tower above me.  Yet, we all could be saying this stuff, couldn't we?  Nephi has such a clear understanding of the plan of Salvation, and the pivotal role of The Savior, Jesus Christ in his life.

  • Nephi understands the struggle between his flesh (natural man, subject to the effects of the fall of Adam) and his spirit (that part of him that desires nothing but holiness), and does such a masterful job with the struggle over the flesh.
  • Nephi acknowledges his weaknesses, and knows he is not above temptation and sin, even though he has had such powerful spiritual witnesses and experiences.
  • Nephi knows that Christ will come in less than 600 years, and will, at that time, pay for his sins.  
  • Nephi strives not to be perfect, but to be continually forgiven and sanctified by the atonement of Jesus Christ through faith on His name.

These verses, I think, are some of the most profound scriptures we have when it comes to what it means to be Saved By Grace.  Read some more with me...

2 Nephi 4: 19-21
19.  And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

20.  My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

21  He hath filled me with His Love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

Obviously, Nephi does not forget to remember not to forget The Lord's blessings.

2 Nephi 4: 30-35
30.  Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto The Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise Thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in Thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

31.  O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul?  Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies?  Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

32.  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 Thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

33.  O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of Thy righteousness!  O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies!  Wilt thou make my path straight before me!  Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way -but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.

34.  O Lord, I have trusted in Thee, and I will trust in Thee forever.  I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.  Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

35.  Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh.  Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto Thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness.  Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto Thee, my rock and mine everlasting God.  Amen.
Yeah, that's me, having a sandwich on top of Mt. Timpanogos, right after I died.
I love the hope in Christ and the Love for my Savior that fills my soul when I read this chapter.  I love how Nephi shows his weaknesses and confesses that he has sins too, so he's someone I can actually relate to, and yet, despite his own perceived challenges, his faith in Jesus, and that He will walk out of that tomb, causes his hope of salvation in God's Kingdom to never diminish.

I've said before that I wish I could be a man like unto Nephi.  While I was talking about Nephi's strength, spirituality, and commitment to obedience as well, what I really admire is his hope in Christ, and how he really gets it; he gets it in his soul.

I say the words of Nephi's prayer along with him:

Wilt Thou make me that I may I shake at the appearance of sin?

Peace be with you...


  1. Thank you for all the time you put into teaching me with your blog. XO

    1. It won't let me comment unless I'm anonymous. Em

    2. Great job John! love it.

  2. Brother Barney, I absolutely enjoy your insight into 2 Nephi 4 14-35; and I enjoyed your Blog. My dad was on an Essex Class carrier; and he came pretty close to being part of the Invasion of Japan. He was a bomb disbosal officer; so he would have been on the first wave!

    But, I love 2 Nephi! This poem is so close to the "Song of Solomon". Thank you for your inspiration! John M

    1. Brother John M,
      Thanks for reading, and leaving your comment. I'm glad for your sake that the war ended before the invasion of the mainland. I'm sure that there would have been very few, if any, survivors in the 1st wave. Peace... JB