After Lehi’s sons obtained the brass plates and brought them to their father in the wilderness, Lehi searched them to understand their contents. As a result, “he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy” (1 Nephi 5:17). Lehi concluded that the scriptures “were desirable; yea, even of great worth” (1 Nephi 5:21).
As I’ve pondered this statement today, I’ve thought of several reasons why the written word of God has unique value:
- Written words stay consistent over time. Our memory is not as reliable as we would like. But when something is written down, it has a permanence which our memory lacks. We can refer to it again and again, and it will always be the same. That’s why Nephi wrote that the brass plates enabled them to “preserve the commandments” for their children (1 Nephi 5:21) and that their children would not have been able to keep the law of Moses without a written record of that law (1 Nephi 4:14-16).
- Written words can carry more weight than spoken words. The fact that someone took the time and effort to write them down gives them a sense of seriousness and importance. In Lehi’s vision, for example, he “saw and heard much,” but the main message came to him as he read the words of a book (1 Nephi 1:11-13).
- The written word enables us to preserve our language (1 Nephi 3:19). I think this refers to more than grammar and vocabulary. From the scriptures, we gain a common spiritual language, a way to talk collectively about spiritual experiences. This helps us to build a sense of community with fellow believers.
- Written words connect us to prior generations. The brass plates contained not only historical events and prophecies but also a genealogy which connected Lehi and his family to the people described in the text (1 Nephi 5:14-17). This connected Lehi and his family to the content in a meaningful way. They were not merely studying history; they were participating in it.
- Written words allow us to search. They are not time-bound like spoken words, so we can review them at our own pace, read them out of order, scrutinize them, and make connections (1 Nephi 5:10, 21).
Today, I will be grateful for the written word of God. I will recognize that it is “desirable” and “of great worth” to me and to my family. I will strive to take full advantage of this gift which God has given to me.