Context and General Information
- 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
- Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
- Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
- Nephi forsakes his sin.
- Nephi resolves to do better.
- Nephi petitions the Lord.
This is the fourth part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read Part One – Nephi’s Grief – here. You can read Part Two – Nevertheless – here. You can read Part Three – Always Remembering – here.
Can I just say how much I love the Psalm of Nephi. It is perfect and appropriate for me in my life currently. I’m going through my own struggles right now. I’ve shared some of them in past posts. Today, as I write this post, I’m sitting on the couch. I’ve been parked on the couch or on my bed for the better part of a month now – trying to conserve energy because my heart has been giving me trouble.
Yesterday (which was actually in October), I was really struggling. I started off the day feeling positive and hopeful. I was on my way to see the EP (a cardiologist that specializes in the Electrical component of the heart). I guess I had a hope that he would have an answer to my dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
This was my first appointment with the EP, so I don’t know why expected much, but whatever it was that I wanted didn’t necessarily happen. The appointment wasn’t bad, it was just another appointment where I explained how I felt and then tests were ordered. I’m scheduled to wear a Holter monitor (or event monitor, I can’t remember which one I’ll be wearing) for ten days. I’m also scheduled to have a tilt table test.
When the doctor mentioned the tilt table test, my heart sank. I’ve had that test in the past, and I really hated the experience. I never wanted to go through that again, yet here I am. Of course, this is an irrational response. The tests are important – they will help the doctor to know which action to take.
Finally, I’m scheduled to meet with the doctor in three weeks’ time – to go over the results of the tests.
On my way home, and throughout the rest of the day, I had a positive feeling about the doctor’s visit. The NP or PA (I can’t remember which) that I met with before talking with the doc was so nice. He listened. Not only that, but he seemed to comprehend what I was talking about. He wasn’t rushed. It seemed like he believed me and had confidence in me. Sometimes doctors give off a skeptical air. I have been going through that a lot lately. When you are a woman in her forties with good heart health, good cholesterol, good triglycerides, good thyroid, and good arteries, then it is hard for doctors to conceive why you are having chest pain! This is frustrating because the symptoms I’m experiencing are real. We do have to be our own advocates sometimes!
Anyway – though I can get frustrated, I left feeling pretty hopeful. I knew that the doctor wasn’t telling me I was crazy. I knew that he needed to simply get information. He needs to see the problem enough to know how to fix it.
Fast forward to last night. I was overcome. Overcome with doubt, fear, and frustration. I was overcome with impatience. Three more weeks of tests and waiting!?!?! I was overcome because I just want to get back to normal life. I want to actually interact with and homeschool my kids (right now my husband and oldest daughter – who is graduated – are doing the load). I want to be a mother to my family. I want to go outside and run. I want to do yoga. I am an active person, and I’ve been nearly bedridden. I want to do those things now! I want the fix now! I want to get back to life and I want to get after it!!!
Being overcome led to more doubts, more fears, more frustration. I lost hope and cheer. I was “down in the dumps.” I tried not to dwell on it too much. I knew that I couldn’t really solve the problem last night. Instead, I could distract myself from it for a little bit until I was in a better state of mind. So I did (by looking at pretty quilts and funny comics). Then I went to bed.
It’s morning. I feel happy. I feel hopeful. And I feel overwhelmed by the tender mercies of the Lord. I am studying the Psalm of Nephi just as I’m going through my own harrowing experience! The Lord is helping to direct my path – so I can learn to persevere and overcome temptation and sin. So I can learn how to stay “of good cheer.”
okay. So onto the scripture study.
So – as a quick recap. First, Nephi grieved as he recognized his sin and the subsequent loss of the Spirit. Nephi’s sorrowing was poignant and genuine, but he didn’t allow himself to wallow in it. Instead, he stated: Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. After making this mental shift – he began to rejoice in the Lord. That brings us to where we are today.
Nephi Asks Himself a Few Questions
After recounting all of the experiences he has had with the lord, Nephi asks himself:
Question One – If I have seen so many great things, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
This is a good question to ask. If you are going through a hard time, then do what Nephi has done – remind yourself of your testimony and experiences with the Lord. Then ask yourself, if I have this testimony, and I have experienced these great things, then why should my heart weep?
Maybe I should have read this last night.
Why should I let my heart weep? I know that the Lord is involved in the details of my life! I have experienced too many tender mercies, too many miracles to deny this fact. The Lord has always helped me to find a way through every problem. I have been living deux ex machina, as He keeps providing miraculous fixes from out of nowhere in my life.
I may not be done with my trial yet, but I know that the Lord is involved in these details of my life, and His involvement is helping me get through every step. Everything is hard, but everything keeps working out in the nick of time.
So why should my heart weep? There are physical impacts on letting my spirit sink. It is stressful to my body. And then my physical, mental, and spiritual resolve all slacken. And this, just because of the trial I face now…when I know that the Lord will deliver me in due time – just as He has every time!
Question Two – And Why Should I Yield to Sin, because of My Flesh?
Another good question. Why should we yield to sin? Yes, we are beings of flesh, but we are also spirit sons and daughters of God.
We don’t have to be subject to the irrational whims of the flesh.
Of course, it isn’t easy, but there are evidences of people putting mind over matter all the time.
In fact, I would wager that anyone who is reading this can think of a time in their own lives when they have put their minds and wills over the urges of the flesh. Nearly every good thing in life requires such discipline.
I will mention my own experience – the one that comes first. Years ago, I ran a marathon. That was mind over matter to the nth degree for me. No one really, naturally wants to run a marathon. Pheidippides himself didn’t set out to run 26.2 miles for fun. He had a message to deliver. Everyone reaches a point in the marathon where their body is asking, “why are we doing this? This is too hard. Stop! We can’t do this. Sit down! Eat a taco!!!”
But the matter, our bodies, our natural man isn’t always all that smart. And our natural selves also aren’t always right. This part of us is not considering the whole picture. So, our higher self has to remind the amygdala: Fear not! Don’t worry! We’ve got this. We won’t die. We’ll cross that finish line. And we’ll be really happy.
Nephi’s flesh is what enticed him to anger against his brother. It was the primitive, amygdala at work – telling Nephi to be afraid. His brothers wanted to kill him.
And was this message completely unwarranted? No! Of course not! It’s interesting, we do need to listen to the flesh a little bit. But we just can’t use the flesh to justify sin! Laman and Lemuel were a real threat. In fact, 2 Nephi 5, we will read that Nephi flees from them. So – it’s not as if the flesh was giving Nephi this completely unreliable story. It would be so much easier to put mind over matter if “matter” didn’t make at least a little bit of sense.
We just have to remind that part of our brain, that part of our flesh that God is in charge. That we have trained for this. That we will actually be okay. We have to refrain from sin, and instead lean upon the Spirit to find the solution that will actually set us free and keep us safe.
Question Three – 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?
Another good question to ponder when in the throes of sin and temptation.
If I would have asked myself this last night, I wouldn’t have been so forlorn.
I mean think about it. What was the purpose of me giving into temptations? Did it make my situation better? Was worrying and fretting and getting frustrated with God a good use of my time last night?
Giving into these temptations only helped Satan. He tempts us to go down this line of thought so that then then we will leave the door open for him to enter into our hearts and destroy our peace.
That’s all that was accomplished last night as I worried. I just kept worrying and worrying.
It’s so hard.
I realize that sometimes we worry because we have no solution and we need one. That was my worry last night. I felt trapped. And last night, there was no “solution” available – not yet. If I had not given into temptation, there still wouldn’t have been a solution. Right now, I’m just supposed to wait. Last night, I was just supposed to wait. Get rest.
It’s hard to wait. We talk a lot about distractions. Usually in a negative sense. While I’m not a proponent of distractions, they are really helpful in situations like these – when we just have to wait. It’s easier to be patient if we will distract ourselves from the waiting…Of course, we need to be sure that we are distracting ourselves with good things – things that will lift our spirits and bring us peace and joy as we wait.
In any case, it’s best not to give into temptation. We don’t want to let the adversary into our hearts. He only seeks to destroy.
Question Four – Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
This is an interesting question for Nephi to ask. In one way, it seems justifiable for Nephi to be angry because of his enemies (his brothers!)…they wanted to kill him!
But really, why was he angry? He knew that God had power to save him. He knew that his enemies were his enemies!
As I study this, I realize – who is the enemy? Is it Laman and Lemuel? Or is it the adversary?
In any case, why give up our precious peace of mind, contentment, joy, focus, or concentration? Why hand that over to someone who wants to destroy us? Why hand that over to Satan???
Personally, why did I let my enemy stir me up last night? Why did I give in to self-pity and pride? The devil doesn’t support his children. He stirs us up to anger, and then leaves us stewing. He doesn’t comfort us or calm us. He just increases the pain.
What’s the point? Why be angry? Why give in to his temptations and let our enemy have place in our soul???
This is a long post. It is personal. I hope it is helpful to someone. I’m not trying to unload my problems onto you, but I’m trying to study the scriptures. I’m also trying to illustrate the concepts I learn in concrete ways that might also help anyone reading this blog. Thanks for sticking with me!