1 Nephi 4-6 is an illustration of the importance of the scriptures in our lives, and their value is demonstrated as several lives are “on the line” for the Plates of Brass.
The Lord sent Lehi’s sons through the wilderness, back to Jerusalem, to obtain the Brass Plates (1 Nephi 3:3,19-20; 4:14-17; 5:10-17). These Records were so important that a man had to lose his life so that a nation could be saved (1 Nephi 4:13).
When the Brass Plates were retrieved, the first thing that Lehi did after giving thanks to the Lord (1 Nephi 5:9) was to “search them from the beginning” (1 Nephi 5:10). As he searched the scriptures “he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy” (1 Nephi 5:17). I know that we too will be “filled with the Spirit” as we “search” the scriptures with the same desire.
Developing a Love for the Scriptures
I experience this “Scripture Power” each time that I put forth the effort to read God’s Holy Word. As Lehi, I have also “found that they [are] desirable; yea, even of great worth” in my life (1 Nephi 5:21). And as Nephi testifies, I also bear witness that “it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us” as we journey towards our Eternal Promised Land (1 Nephi 5:22).
Lehi studies the Brass Plates
It is obvious that the Lord is trying to help us understand the great worth of the Word of God. As you and I study the Book of Mormon we will surely receive an added witness of the power that the Lord intends to bless us with through His scriptures.
NOTE: Recall that after Lehi’s sons had returned with the Brass Plates, the very first thing that the family did was “offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel” (1 Nephi 5:9).
It was only after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel that “Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning.” (1 Nephi 5:10-11) Now I am pretty positive that a large part of the thanks that was being offered to God was gratitude for the safe return of their sons. But it seems to me that they were probably pretty grateful that they had the scriptures as well. I would like to extend a similar invitation to all those studying the Book of Mormon, or any scripture. Meaningful scripture study will require some type of sacrifice on our part. You have probably already realized that. But it would be well for us to begin our daily scripture study with a prayer of thanks and plea for help.
Ponder & Pray with Scripture Study
Perhaps you already do this, but if not, please consider the following counsel from President Dallin H. Oaks:
“There’s one thing that I’ve learned about scripture study… and that is that it is a great mistake to try to read the scriptures like you read a magazine or a newspaper. What I refer to is the fact that I pick up a newspaper and I just read it, or I pick up a magazine or a textbook and I just read it. But when I pick up the scriptures, I’m picking up the word of God, written by prophets under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord. Those should never be read without praying over them first.
“When I go to the table to eat, I don’t take physical nourishment without asking the Lord to bless that food to nourish and strengthen my body. Similarly, I think when we study the scriptures, we should bow our head and pray—often it would be silently because of the surroundings—but we would pray that the Lord would bless us that we’d be able to understand what we’re reading and that the act of reading the scriptures would summon the Spirit of the Lord to guide us on things other than simply the meaning of what we’re reading. In this way the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to help us receive revelation. But it begins with prayer; it doesn’t begin with reading, like a newspaper or a magazine.” (“A Panel Discussion with Elder Dallin H. Oaks,” Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Broadcast, August 7, 2012)
We PRAY before EATING.
Why not PRAY before READING?
Scripture study is an example of the principle that, “You get out of it only as much as you are willing to put in to it.” President Spencer W. Kimball illustrated this principle with this simple analogy:
Mr. Conrad N. Hilton of the Hilton Hotel chain… told about a plain bar of iron being worth about five dollars. But that same iron, if made into horseshoes, would be worth $10.50. If it were made into needles, it would be worth $3,285. And if turned into balance springs for watches, its worth would be over $250,000.
Apparently the value of the raw iron is only what it costs to process it from the hill. Its greater value is determined by what is made of it. (“On Cheating Yourself,” New Era, April 1972.)
Similarly, the value of our scripture study is measured much the same as as how the value of iron is determined. Remember, “The iron rod is the word of God” (see Hymns, 274 – The Iron Rod and 1 Nephi 11:25). You and I can treat the scriptures like nothing more than raw iron through casual reading, or we can carefully polish our scripture study to a high degree and make our it more valuable. The value of our scripture study is determined by what we make of it.
Do you remember Tevye, the poor milkman in the musical Fiddler on the Roof who dreamed of being rich? You may recall a fun song from that musical, “If I Were a Rich Man“. What would you hope for if you were rich? There is an interesting line of reasoning in that song that Tevye related to scripture that most people tend to gloss-over as they sing along. As you watch it, listen to the lyrics, and maybe sing along, and see if you can catch what Tevye says about scripture that most people miss.
Did you catch it? What is his fondest dream, if he were to strike it rich?
“If I were rich I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray
And maybe have a seat by the eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men
Seven hours ev’ry day.
This would be the sweetest thing of all.”
Sister Susan W. Tanner, a previous Young Women general president taught this in relation to Tevye’s melodious desire to study the scriptures:
If you were rich, would you spend your free time studying the “holy books,” or the scriptures, for several hours a day? If you were rich, would the sweetest joy that you could imagine be to have more time for intensive scripture study?
To study holy books is regarded by Orthodox Jews as a sweet blessing and a great privilege. In fact, in some Jewish traditions, when the child was to start his education in the Torah, a taste of honey was given to the student so that he would associate the study of the holy books with sweetness. This was intended to reinforce what it says in Psalms:
“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).
Similarly, Psalm 19 compares the scriptures to gold and honey. The Psalmist beautifully exults in the word of the Lord, as follows:
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7–11)
All of these terms in this scripture—law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear (or reverence), and judgments—are synonyms for the word of the Lord, or scriptures. They are “more to be desired . . . than gold, yea, than much fine gold: [and] sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”
I sometimes think that we should feel more like Tevye… Are the scriptures delicious to us—as precious as gold and sweeter than honey? Do we feast on them, delight in them, and ponder them as Nephi taught? (See 2 Nephi 4:15–16.) Do we liken them unto ourselves as Jacob counseled? (See 2 Nephi 6:5.) Do we search them for the Lord’s specific words to us—bringing conversion, wisdom, enlightenment, revelation, comfort, and rejoicing? Do we recognize them as one of the sweetest, most sublime blessings we have? (Scriptures—More Precious Than Gold and Sweeter Than Honey, September 11, 2005.)
These sentiments were echoed by President Russell M. Nelson in his talk, “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?” He began by relating the following story and teaching an important truth related to the value of the scriptures in our lives:
In 1986, I was invited to give a special lecture at a university in Accra, Ghana. There I met a number of dignitaries, including an African tribal king. As we visited prior to the lecture, the king spoke to me only through his linguist, who then translated for me. I responded to the linguist, and the linguist then translated my responses to the king.
After my lecture, the king made his way directly to me, but this time without his linguist. To my surprise, he spoke in perfect English—the Queen’s English, I might add!
The king seemed puzzled. “Just who are you?” he asked.
I replied, “I am an ordained Apostle of Jesus Christ.”
The king asked, “What can you teach me about Jesus Christ?”
I responded with a question: “May I ask what you already know about Him?”
The king’s response revealed he was a serious student of the Bible and one who loved the Lord.
I then asked if he knew about the ministry of Jesus Christ to the people of ancient America.
As I expected, he did not.
I explained that after the Savior’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, He came to the people of ancient America, where He taught His gospel. He organized His Church and asked His disciples to keep a record of His ministry among them.
“That record,” I continued, “is what we know as the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a companion scripture to the Holy Bible.”
At this point, the king became very interested. I turned to the mission president accompanying me and asked if he had an extra copy of the Book of Mormon with him. He pulled one from his briefcase.
I opened it to 3 Nephi chapter 11, and together the king and I read the Savior’s sermon to the Nephites. I then presented the copy of the Book of Mormon to him. His response lodged in my mind and heart forever: “You could have given me diamonds or rubies, but nothing is more precious to me than this additional knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ.”
After experiencing the power of the Savior’s words in 3 Nephi, the king proclaimed, “If I am converted and join the Church, I will bring my whole tribe with me.”
“Oh, King,” I said, “it doesn’t work that way. Conversion is an individual matter. The Savior ministered to the Nephites one by one. Each individual receives a witness and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
My brothers and sisters, how precious is the Book of Mormon to you? If you were offered diamonds or rubies or the Book of Mormon, which would you choose? Honestly, which is of greater worth to you? (Emphasis added.)
One of my FAVORITE stories from the Old Testament tells of the importance and value that a king named Josiah placed on the scriptures.
Josiah was only eight years old when he began to reign in Judah, and although his immediate progenitors were extremely wicked, the scriptures tell us that “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2.) This is all the more surprising when we learn that by that time (just two generations before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.) the written law of Moses had been lost and was virtually unknown, even among the priests of the temple!
But in the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah directed that the temple be repaired. At that time Hilkiah, the high priest, found the book of the law, which Moses had placed in the ark of the covenant, and delivered it to King Josiah.
When the book of the law was read to Josiah, he “rent his clothes” and wept before the Lord.
“Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us,” he said, “because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:13.)
The king then read the book before all the people, and at that time they all made a covenant to obey all the Lord’s commandments “with all their heart and all their soul.” (2 Kings 23:3.) Then Josiah proceeded to clean up the kingdom of Judah, removing all the idols, the groves, the high places, and all the abominations that had accumulated during the reign of his fathers, defiling the land and its people. …
“And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” (2 Kings 23:25.)
I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord.
Josiah had the law of Moses only. In our scriptures we have the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness; and if a taste is sweet, in fulness there is joy.
The Lord is not trifling with us when he gives us these things, for “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48.) Access to these things means responsibility for them. We must study the scriptures according to the Lord’s commandment (see 3 Ne. 23:1–5); and we must let them govern our lives and the lives of our children. (“Chapter 6: Discovering the Scriptures for Ourselves,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), 59–68. See also “Josiah—Believer in the Scriptures,” Friend, Feb. 1998.)
4 SCRIPTURE STUDY TIPS
Preserving the Scriptures
Reading the Scriptures
Understanding the Importance of Scripture
How to Use the LDS Scripture Study Aids
A couple articles that may interest you that go well with these chapters are:
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