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 fifth part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read:
- Part One – Nephi’s Grief – here
- Part Two – Nevertheless – here
- Part Three – Always Remembering – here
- Part Four – Nephi’s Analysis – here
Before we start this post—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. His rejoicing led him to ask him a few questions that help to buoy him up and motivate him back to righteousness.
Today, we will study what comes next – Nephi’s resolve.
In 2 Nephi, we read:
“Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
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.” – 2 Nephi 4:28-30
Now that Nephi has dug himself out of the hole of pity caused by sin, and after rejoicing in the Lord, he has a renewed sense of commitment. He has hope and resolve.
I think that this is a really important part of the Psalm of Nephi. When we think of repentance and the process of confessing and forsaking sin, for some reason it always sounds so sad to me. I think that there is some part of me that thinks true repentance is only a small step off of that part of the self flagellation we see in the movie The Davinci Code committed by that Opus Dei priest.
I have never purposely hurt or cut myself – to pay a penance or feel sorrow for my sins. But there is a part of me, I must admit, that misunderstands the nature of the Atonement. There is a part of me that thinks repentance should be grueling. There is a part of me that thinks I need to suffer, suffer, and suffer if I’m truly sorry for my sin.
There is a part of me that focuses only on the “Oh wretched man that I am,” part of Nephi’s psalm, while ignoring the following 18 verses of rejoicing, recommitting, and hope.
I know that I already touched on this concept in an earlier blog post, but I feel it is important to bring it up quickly again.
Repentance shouldn’t end in sorrow or pain. When we truly repent, we should feel reinvigorated, hopeful, and excited about recommitment.
Think of Alma the younger’s experience with repentance and conversion. He saw an angel while he was out persecuting the members of the church. He then was in a comatose state for three days. We read of his experience:
“But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.” – Alma 36:12-16
Alma experienced great sorrow. But notice what he says. He was experiencing the pains “of a damned soul.”
And the thing is, we aren’t damned. We don’t have to experience this kind of hopeless grief caused by our sin. We don’t have to be tormented. Yes we sin. And yes, this is how we feel when we are left alone with our sins. But the thing is: we haven’t been left alone.
We have been forgiven.
The Savior, Himself, stated:
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” – Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-19
We have been forgiven! Is suffering connected to sin? Absolutely! The Savior described his experience in suffering for sin. It was so painful it caused him God to tremble.
But do we have to “suffer” in order to be forgiven? No! At least, not necessarily. This is why Christ suffered. So that instead, we could repent.
The suffering that Alma felt was the sorrow of a damned soul. It was not godly sorrow that led to repentance. His sorrow was hopeless torment. He wished to be “banished and … extinct both soul and body….” Thankfully for him, he had been taught about the hope offered by Christ. He continues with his experience:
“And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” – Alma 36:17-21
Now look at this!!! Alma, when he thinks of the Savior and then chooses to express Godly sorrow, he repents. He stops with the self hatred. He is filled with the pure love of Christ. He experiences exquisite joy.
Back to Nephi.
He doesn’t wallow in self-pity. And now, after changing his focus and rejoicing in God, he recommits.
- Don’t droop in sin – don’t get discouraged.
- Rejoice in the Lord.
- Don’t give the enemy a place in our hearts.
- Don’t anger because of enemies.
- Don’t let strength slacken during adversity.
- Rejoice in the Lord!
- Praise the Lord! He is the rock of our salvation.
I’m so thankful for Nephi’s example. I know that I need to follow this example in my own life. When I’m feeling down and out – whether it’s through sin or through some adversity, I need to do what Nephi has done: remember the Lord, rejoice in Him, and then recommit.