Nephi loved the scriptures—he read them, pondered them, wrote them. The scriptures that Nephi read and loved were the records obtained from Laban. Perhaps one reason he loved them was the great expenditure it took to get them for his family. He wrote, “I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23).
Nephi loved the scriptures because he knew them. He learned from them, and they guided his life. At times, even his writing took on the form of the scriptures he loved. One of the most beautiful sections of the Book of Mormon was written by Nephi in a Psalm format. It is evidence of the strong influence the writings of David had on this prophet of the new world. It is moving and insightful into the life of the man Nephi. The Psalm of Nephi was written at a difficult time in Nephi’s life. Nephi records, “after my father, Lehi, had spoken unto all his household, according to the feelings of his heart and the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, he waxed old. And it came to pass that he died, and was buried” (2 Nephi 4:12). Soon, Laman and Lemuel and others turned on Nephi because of his righteousness. This strong man-prophet-husband-father, was at a point in his life where he turned to the Lord in searching his soul for peace and comfort. Like many of us, Nephi turned to the scriptures. It was at this point he wrote, “For my soul delighteth in the scriptures” (2 Nephi 4:15). In my opinion, Nephi turned to David, a man acquainted with sorrow yet filled with hope in his Lord. Here Nephi feels the words of the Psalms in his heart and in his soul. Beginning in 2 Nephi 4:16, Nephi gives one of the most beautiful passages of scripture ever recorded. What follows are a few examples of how Nephi “did liken all scriptures” to himself and how he found faith, peace, and comfort from the scriptures for his own life.
David wrote, “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). Nephi wrote, “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities” (2 Nephi 4:17).
David wrote, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:16-17). Nephi wrote, “May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit contrite” (2 Nephi 4:32).
David wrote, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him” (Psalm 43:5). Nephi wrote, “O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away” (2 Nephi 4:26).
David wrote, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:11). Nephi wrote, “O Lord, I have trusted in thee and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh” (2 Nephi 4:34).
David wrote, “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 59:1-2). Nephi wrote, “Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of my enemies?” (2 Nephi 4:31).
David wrote, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of they tender mercies” (Psalm 51:1). Nephi wrote, “He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh” (2 Nephi 4:21).
After Nephi records his Psalm, the next event recorded is the hatred of his brethren that causes him, and those who would follow him, to flee into the wilderness. He left his home, siblings, and the graves of his parents, and followed the directions of the Lord. What great faith, what powerful trust in the Lord.
Personally, I have 2 Nephi 4:16-35, outlined in red pencil in my Book of Mormon. On more than one occasion, I have turned to the scriptures in search of peace and comfort and turned to these verses. They have lifted me and moved me to strive to be more like Nephi. They have truly been a strength to me during times of difficulty. I join with Nephi and exclaim, “I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support . . . 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 4:19-20, 30). May we each join with Nephi in studying the scriptures, pondering them, and teaching them to our children. Then, with the unity of one voice, may we be found to say, “My soul delighteth in the scriptures” (2 Nephi 4:15).