‘Come, Follow Me’ for Jan. 8-14: What have Church leaders and scholars said about 1 Nephi 1-5?

This week’s study guide introduces the prophet Lehi and his family, and details the start of their journey out of Jerusalem

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers 1 Nephi 1-5, which introduces the prophet Lehi and his family, and details the start of their journey out of Jerusalem.

Church News searched the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn what leaders and scholars have said about these chapters.

1 Nephi 1

“Among the people to whom we should be grateful, we can list, for example, our parents — for the good reason that they brought us into the world and, above all, for having given us a good education on spiritual and temporal matters.

“Such is the case of Nephi, when he testified of the goodness of his parents towards him, declaring that: ‘I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days’ (1 Nephi 1:1). This testimony of Nephi is an act of gratitude poured out in terms of love expressed with all his heart toward his parents.”

Elder Christophe Kawaya Bakajika, Area Seventy, in the January 2021 Liahona article “Loving Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ With All Our Heart”

“A dominant theme of the Book of Mormon is expressed in the final verse of the first chapter of 1 Nephi. Nephi writes, ‘But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance’ (1 Nephi 1:20). ...

“Many of the stories of the Book of Mormon are stories of deliverance. Lehi’s departure into the wilderness with his family was about deliverance from the destruction of Jerusalem. …

“Prophecies foretelling the life and mission of Jesus Christ promise us the deliverance that He will provide. His Atonement and Resurrection provide all of us an escape from physical death and, if we repent, an escape from spiritual death, bringing with it the blessings of eternal life.”

— Elder L. Tom Perry, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2012 general conference, “The Power of Deliverance”

“Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer. Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.

“We learn a vital lesson from the example of Lehi in the Book of Mormon. Lehi responded in faith to prophetic instruction and warnings concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. He then prayed unto the Lord ‘with all his heart, in behalf of his people’ (1 Nephi 1:5). In answer to this fervent prayer, Lehi was blessed with a glorious vision of God and His Son and of the impending destruction of Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 1:6-9, 13, 18). Consequently, Lehi rejoiced, and his whole heart was filled because of the things which the Lord had shown him (see 1 Nephi 1:15). Please note that the vision came in response to a prayer for others and not as a result of a request for personal edification or guidance.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 general conference, “Pray Always”

“The word ‘chosen’ in 1 Nephi 1:20 is central to understanding the concept of the Lord’s tender mercies. The dictionary indicates that ‘chosen’ suggests one who is selected, taken by preference or picked out. It also can be used to refer to the elect or chosen of God.

“Some individuals … erroneously may discount or dismiss in their personal lives the availability of the tender mercies of the Lord, believing that ‘I certainly am not one who has been or ever will be chosen.’ We may falsely think that such blessings and gifts are reserved for other people who appear to be more righteous or who serve in visible Church callings. I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us.”

Elder David A. Bednar, April 2005 general conference, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord”

In this painting, Lehi stands on steps to preach as angry people point at him.
“Lehi Prophesying to the People of Jerusalem (Lehi Preaching in Jerusalem)” is by Del Parson. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

1 Nephi 2

“The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi … listened to the response of his sons to the direction and vision he had been given: ‘And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them’ (1 Nephi 2:12).

“Perhaps we have each felt the frustration Lehi experienced with his two eldest sons. As we face a drifting child, an uncommitted investigator, or an unresponsive prospective elder, our hearts swell as Lehi’s did, and we ask, how can I help them feel and listen to the Spirit so they are not caught up in worldly distractions? ... 

“Nephi gives a key to the door of learning through his own personal experience: ‘I, Nephi, … having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers’ (1 Nephi 2:16).

“Awakening the desire to know enables our spiritual capacities to hear the voice of heaven. Finding a way to awaken and nurture that desire is the quest and responsibility of each of us — missionaries, parents, teachers, leaders and members.”

— Elder Paul E. Koelliker, then a General Authority Seventy, April 2012 general conference, “He Truly Loves Us”

“Latter-day Saints who have studied the Old Testament realize that about a third of that book was originally written in poetry; what is not widely known is that generally the prophetic utterances in the Book of Mormon are poetry. This should not surprise us, though, given the Hebraic background of Lehi and his family. …

“While Book of Mormon poetry appears in many places of elevated discourse such as sermons and instructions, a close examination of the text will show that generally when a Book of Mormon prophet says or implies, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ the passages that follow will be poetic. For example, we can hear a shift from Nephi’s prose to the Lord’s poetry in 1 Nephi 2:18-22:

“‘But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them. And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying:

Blessed art thou, Nephi,

Because of thy faith,

For thou hast sought me diligently,

With lowliness of heart.

And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments,

Ye shall prosper,

And shall be led to a land of promise;

Yea, even a land which I have prepared for you;

Yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.

And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee,

They shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.

And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments,

Thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren.’ …

“When we encounter an exalted passage in the Book of Mormon, especially some revelation from the Lord, we should read it aloud to better feel the poetry. Read out loud, the poetic words of the Book of Mormon will resonate, will reach us as beautiful music does. The rhythms of the magnificent verse will carry their own logic.”

—  Richard Dilworth Rust, former English professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the March 1983 New Era article “Book of Mormon Poetry”

Lehi asks Nephi to return to Jerusalem to obtain the Brass Plates from Laban in this scene from the Book of Mormon Videos.
Lehi asks Nephi to return to Jerusalem to obtain the Brass Plates from Laban in this scene from the Book of Mormon Videos. | Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

1 Nephi 3

“[This] is a question that should be in the mind of each young man and each young woman the world over: ‘Who’s on the Lord’s side?’ And our resounding answer should be, ‘I am!’

“It was the question that was in the mind of Nephi when the Lord, through Nephi’s father, Lehi, directed Nephi and his brothers to go back to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates. When Laman and Lemuel murmured, the question came to Nephi, ‘Who’s on the Lord’s side?’ To which he responded, ‘I am!’ in the words: ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them’ (1 Nephi 3:7).”

— Brother Charles W. Dahlquist II, then the Young Men general president, April 2007 general conference, “Who’s on the Lord’s Side?”

“Our personal testimony is a protective shield, and like an iron rod it is guiding us safely through darkness and confusion.

“Nephi’s testimony gave him the courage to stand up and be counted as one who obeys the Lord. He did not murmur, doubt or fear, no matter what the circumstances. When times got tough he said, ‘I will go and do [what] the Lord [has] commanded, for I know that the Lord … shall prepare a way … [to] accomplish [it]’ (1 Nephi 3:7).

“Just as the Lord knew Nephi, God knows us and loves us. This is our time; these are our days. We are where the action is. Our firm personal testimony will motivate us to change ourselves and then bless the world.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2006 general conference, “The Power of a Personal Testimony”

1 Nephi 4

“Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness and preparation. ... This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare and is evident in the experiences of Nephi as he tried several different approaches before successfully obtaining the plates of brass from Laban (see 1 Nephi 3-4). Ultimately, he was led by the Spirit to Jerusalem, ‘not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do’ (1 Nephi 4:6). …

“I have talked with many individuals who question the strength of their personal testimony and underestimate their spiritual capacity because they do not receive frequent, miraculous or strong impressions. … If you have had similar thoughts or doubts, please know that you are quite normal. Just keep pressing forward obediently and with faith in the Savior.”

Elder David A. Bednar, April 2011 general conference, “The Spirit of Revelation”

Sariah, left, is comforted by her husband Lehi in this scene from the Book of Mormon Videos.
Sariah, left, is comforted by her husband, Lehi, in this scene from the Book of Mormon Videos.

1 Nephi 5

“The Book of Mormon contains a striking example of affirming language also given in the context of a marital disagreement. The sons of Sariah and Lehi had been sent back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates and had not returned. Sariah believed her sons were in harm’s way, and she was filled with anger and needed someone to blame.

“Listen to the story through the eyes of her son Nephi: ‘For [my mother] had supposed that we had perished in the wilderness; and she also had complained against my father, telling him that he was a visionary man; saying: Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness’ (1 Nephi 5:2).

“Now, let’s consider what Sariah may have been thinking. She was filled with anxiety about her quarrelsome sons returning to the place where her husband’s life had been threatened. She had traded her lovely home and friends for a tent in an isolated wilderness while still in her childbearing years. Pushed to the breaking point of her fears … She expressed legitimate concerns to her husband in the language of anger and doubt and blame — a language in which the entire human race seems to be surprisingly proficient.

“The prophet Lehi listened to the fear that underpinned his wife’s anger. Then he made a disciplined response in the language of compassion. First, he owned the truth of what things looked like from her perspective: ‘And … my father spake unto her, saying: I know that I am a visionary man; … but [if I] had tarried at Jerusalem, [we would have] perished with my brethren’ (1 Nephi 5:4).

“Then her husband addressed her fears concerning the welfare of their sons, as the Holy Ghost undoubtedly testified to him, saying:

“‘But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice; yea, and I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban. …

“‘And after this manner of language did my father, Lehi, comfort my mother … concerning us’ (1 Nephi 5:5-6).

“There exists today a great need for men and women to cultivate respect for each other across wide distances of belief and behavior and across deep canyons of conflicting agendas. It is impossible to know all that informs our minds and hearts or even to fully understand the context for the trials and choices we each face.”

— Elder W. Craig Zwick, then a General Authority Seventy, April 2014 general conference, “What Are You Thinking?”

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