I never really appreciated this chapter as much as I do now until I was a freshman at BYU. I took the Book of Mormon class from Brother Victor Ludlow. He is a Book of Mormon scholar. He has been to Jerusalem numerous times and has profound knowledge of the Old and New Testaments as well as Jewish history. One of the lessons I learned in his class was about the Psalm of Nephi. I can’t remember perfectly, but Brother Ludlow was talking to this Arabic professor about the Book of Mormon. And when shown this chapter, the Arabic man told Brother Ludlow that this chapter was a poem of some sort or a psalm. It has various parts to it. At first Nephi is anguished about his sins, but then he glories in God. The next part he starts over again and is in anguish with his sins, but then he counters with rejoicing in the Lord’s strength. He rejoicing then turns into a type of prayer and resolve to do better and the psalm finishes. When you break it down into the different parts, it makes it more interesting and meaningful than if you were to read it as plain scripture.
Not only is this chapter a beautiful psalm or poem, but it also is a strength to me as I read it. When I am feeling down or depressed because of my weaknesses or sins, I can turn to this chapter and read this psalm and find the power to do better than before.
Another part of this chapter I love is section just proceeding the Psalm of Nephi. In verses 15 and 16 Nephi talks about how he delights in the scriptures and how he ponders them continually. I find that when I truly am trying to apply the scriptures to my life, I will think about a certain scripture unceasingly. Others times, I find memorizing a scripture proves very helpful in remembering the meaning and feeling of the scripture. For example, my dad asked me to memorize section 121:33-46 of the Doctrine and Covenants as well as section 84:33-41 – the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. I memorized those parts and much of it remains with me to this day. Those scriptures are a part of me and I can think on them often as I have access to them 24 hours a day (if I have memorized them well). I remember my dad telling me a couple of years ago when Jill and I were in St. George visiting that I should memorize parts of scripture so that the scriptures will be in my heart continually. I have tried to keep that counsel. I need to do better though. I think Nephi read and studied the scriptures so much, he must have memorized parts of scripture too.
One other note to write about. Nephi says, “…my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.” I think I also could add ‘feel’ to his list. Elder Scott gave a wonderful talk about how much we can learn from what we see, hear and feel. The talk is entitled To Acquire Knowledge and the Strength to Use it Wisely Ensign, June 2002.
The Promised Land Covenant shows up again in this chapter (see verse 4),