After delivering the Sermon on the Mount and beginning a sermon about the gathering of Israel, the Savior saw that his listeners were exhausted. They had reached their limit, and they were unable to assimilate any more information. “I perceive that ye are weak,” He said, “that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time” (3 Nephi 17:2). The following day, He would return and deliver the rest of His message. (See 3 Nephi 20:10.) But before that, the people needed some time to internalize what they had learned so far. So He gave them the following instructions:
Go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.3 Nephi 17:3
These people were certainly aware of the importance of pondering. The prophet Nephi had experienced an expansive vision after pondering the teachings of his father. (See 1 Nephi 11:1.) A later prophet, also named Nephi, who was the father of two of the twelve disciples and the grandfather of another, had been blessed with extraordinary power after pondering. (See Helaman 10:2-5, 3 Nephi 1:2-3, 3 Nephi 19:4.)
The writer of the book of Proverbs admonished his son, “Ponder the path of thy feet” (Proverbs 4:26). The Hebrew word translated “ponder” in this passage is palas (פָלַס), which in this context means to make level, to roll flat. The imagery is of a rough path which needs to be smoothed out into a road that you can walk on.
It is helpful to receive raw information, but we sometimes need some time to integrate new information with our existing understanding so that we can better understand how this new information can influence our daily decisions. We need to “roll it flat” and “make it level,” so that it becomes truly actionable.
Today, I will ponder upon the things I have learned as I participated in general conference over the last two days. I will think about how my understanding has grown, and I will make specific commitments to take action in response to what I heard.