After his father died, Nephi’s relationship with his oldest brothers, Laman and Lemuel deteriorated. They had never been very receptive to his admonitions, but now, their anger was increasing (2 Nephi 4:13). Nephi was frustrated, not only with them but also with his own response to them (2 Nephi 4:27, 29).
Nephi’s purpose in writing his psalm is to express his sorrow that his actions are falling so far short of his expectations.
The psalm divides into three parts: an expression of remorse, a call to action, and a prayer for redemption.
- Expression of remorse (2 Nephi 4:15-27)
- “My soul delighteth in the things of the Lord” (2 Nephi 4:15-16).
- “Nevertheless…my heart groaneth because of my sins” (2 Nephi 4:17-19)
- God has led me through the wilderness, filled me with His love, and given me knowledge by visions (2 Nephi 4:20-25).
- “If I have seen so great things,…why should I yield to sin” (2 Nephi 4:26-27)?
- Call to action: “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin” (2 Nephi 4:28-30).
- Prayer for redemption (2 Nephi 4:31-35)
It’s one thing to want to change and another to actually do so. In this psalm, we see Nephi passing through three stages of emotion as he reacts to his own shortcomings. During the first stage, he speaks to the reader, expressing bewilderment and even exasperation at his own lack of ability to live up to blessings he has received. In the second stage, he speaks to his own soul, commanding himself to muster sufficient will-power to do better. Finally, in the third stage, he turns to God, pleading for the help that he needs. His tone is humble but confident. If God has done so much for him, surely God can help him change. His reference to a verse from Jeremiah at the end underscores his recognition of dependence on the Lord: “cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh” (2 Nephi 4:34, Jeremiah 17:5). By referencing this passage, Nephi is acknowledging that he will not be able to do this alone. Only by God’s grace will he be able to overcome his sins.
I will respond to Nephi’s words by emulating his honesty, his determination, and his faith. I will recognize and acknowledge my sins and weaknesses. I will work hard to overcome them. And I will turn to God, recognizing that only through His redeeming power will I be successful in becoming the person I want to be.
Blog Posts About Nephi’s Psalm
- What Is the Meaning of the Title “Lord of Hosts?” (3/4/2019)
- That I May Shake at the Appearance of Sin – 2 Nephi 4:31 (9/8/2018)
- Nephi’s Psalm – 2 Nephi 4:15-35 (9/7/2018)
- Ye Shall Prosper in the Land – 2 Nephi 4:4 (8/18/2018)
- Rejoice, O My Heart – 2 Nephi 4:28-30 (8/8/2017)
- If I Have Seen So Great Things – 2 Nephi 4:26-28 (8/7/2017)
- For the Learning and the Profit of My Children – 2 Nephi 4:15 (2/25/2017)
- Our Faith Becometh Unshaken – 2 Nephi 4:6 (3/2/2016)
- Because of My Flesh – 2 Nephi 4:27-29 (2/2/2016)
- 2 Nephi 4:19 I Know in Whom I Have Trusted (2/9/2015)
- 2 Nephi 4:16 My Soul Delighteth in the Things of the Lord (2/8/2015)
- 2 Nephi 4:5 I Cannot Go Down to My Grave Save I Should Leave a Blessing Upon You (2/8/2015)