So what is a softened heart? When I read Nephi’s description I have many questions. He speaks of his great desires to know the mysteries of God. I am thinking that in order to have a softened heart, you must first have a desire for righteousness.
We know from verse 16 that Nephi was visited and the Lord did soften his heart, but what exactly happened that helped Nephi soften his heart? This remains a mystery?
Whatever the Lord spoke unto Nephi … 1. It caused him to be visited by the Lord
2. The Lord softened his heart (how) (I’ll come back to this) 3. He believed all the words which his father spoke 4. It caused him to pause and choose not to rebel.
5. It moved him to action. He spoke to Sam and he told Sam what? All that he had been told
I find it interesting that he did not tell Laman and Lemuel all that God had manifested unto him. We are told only that Lamen and Lemuel would not hearken unto Nephi?
How do you suppose the Lord softened Nephi’s heart? I know that I have had times in my life when I have gone to the Lord in humble prayer and he has enveloped me with his love. He has given of himself and helped me find my way. He has taught me how to love by loving me. My guess is that Nephi felt of God’s love and then he was also able to see and hear much of God’s plan. My guess is that he appealed to Nephi’s sense of reasoning.
Reason is present when anger is not. Lamen and Lemuel were angry over the loss of their way of life, their possessions and their identity amongst friends. When we place the basis of our identity upon the spiritual truths then how is more important than where or who.
Lamen and Lemuel were unable to hear the words of the Lord because their identities were caught up in the possessions and people they relied upon to find self-identity. When Lehi removed them from their homeland, they were left alone. Loneliness begets anger. WE MUST IDENTIFY OURSELVES THROUGH THE SPRIUTAL TRUTHS THE LORD TEACHES. This helps us build on a sure foundation.
The Lord had manifested (vs. 17) manifest - display or show (a quality or feeling) by one's acts or appearance; demonstrate. This came as a surprise to me. I always felt that manifest meant to teach. If the Lord manifested unto Nephi, then he showed him love by helping Nephi feel the love. The Lord emanated all that he taught. The Lord was the epitome of what he taught. It's not just what was said, it was how it was said. Or what was seen, it was how it was presented. The presentation is everything. The Lord manifested his knowledge through his love.
Being grieved (vs 17) – Nephi was frustrated. He knew a greater love, a better way, a greater knowledge. He had an insight to the future. He understood and he wanted those that he loved to understand. But they could not. So instead of getting angry. (not the Lord’s way)… he took to learn the “dealings of …God” (vs 12). He asked. He “cried unto the Lord for them.” He didn’t say he was angry with them, he was sad. Love begets sadness and sorrow for those we love. Selfishness begets anger and the need to control. I don’t see Nephi trying to control his brethren. He wants to share with them and teach them what he has learned. But remember he is the youngest. They will have little respect for him.
We should not put aside the words of our young. They often can hear and know what we are blinded from.
Hardness of hearts (vs 17) – anger, selfishness, hardness of heart, inability to forgive, damnation because you become stuck, blinded by rage, blinded by pride, deaf to the words of love. Unable to see the beauty, feel the love, and understand the greater and better way of life. Caught up in yourself, caught up in things. Demanding, not patient, uncaring. No hope, no faith
Lowliness of heart (vs 18) the opposite of hardness. Humble, submissive, ready to learn, understanding of own limitations, willingness to listen, charitable, giving, caring, loving, full of faith.
Inasmuch – vs 20 to the extent that; insofar as as far as you are able… If you will keep my commandments… I will bless you. I makes me wonder to what extend to I keep the commandments of God. If I keep the commandments to a full extent, do I receive the fullness of his Love and blessings? If I keep the commandments just a little, to I get just a little? I think the Lord was really wise in stating inasmuch. I should use this more with my children.
Inasmuch you will walk the dog, and keep your room clean, you will have extra time to do what you would like to do.
Inasmuch as they shall rebel (vs 21) the opposite holds true. Up verse down. Good vs bad. If you don’t listen you don’t know what to do. If you don’t follow the rules, the game does not work for you.
Inasmuch thou shalt be a ruler (vs 22) this seems like an arrogant thing for Nephi to think or even to consider. But we saw this same story in Joseph of Egypt. It is pretty much a basic rule of nature. When you learn the rules and you follow the rules you are blessed. I am reminded of D&C There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven upon which all blessings are predicated. The universe runs on laws of nature. When we understand these laws, we have power over those who do not understand them. I.E. smoking. Joseph Smith was told in 1830 of he ills of tobacco. It took thousands of lives and a hundred years for the rest of the world to come to a truth concerning the addictive and destructive qualities of tobacco. Why then do men still sell it? Those who choose to smoke it place their lives at risk.
I will curse them (vs 23) We are reminded here of the justice of our Lord. He loves us. He loves those who love him. But he will tolerate only so much before he says “enough”. When we continue to refuse God’s love in our life, when we continue to turn a deaf ear and do what we want, then God places a sore curse upon us. He does this to bring us to our knees and remember him. I have heard, God will have a humble people. We can either choose to be humble, or he will humble us. Here God tells us… be humble or suffer a curse.
Nephi is reminded that he will be safe from this curse unless he and his people also choose to rebel against God.
Scourge unto thy seed (vs 24) a person or thing that causes great trouble or suffering What do we have today that acts as a scourge unto us? What does the Lord put in our lives to help us remember him? Do we have scourges? Or do we have the pure joy of God? Since no man is perfect, I will tend to say that we all have scourges. It is the natural man that will lean toward natural ways. We must learn to lean toward the spiritual self that teaches us of God’s ways. We must learn to love others, to put away the natural man, and the selfish desires of our heart. We must find selfless ways that bring God’s love into our lives.