Lehi and his family have departed further into the wilderness and are depending on the land to provide them with the food they need. The Liahona has led them through a fertile stretch of land, but Nephi’s bow has broken and they aren’t able to hunt very effectively. Laman and Lemuel are starting to complain about the lack of meat, their first recorded murmuring since Nephi’s impassioned plea for their repentance.
20. And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord.
I’ve never had to go for long without food, and I’ve never wandered in the wilderness, so I can’t imagine what they are going through. But if Lehi himself is murmuring, the suffering must be great indeed.
21. Now it came to pass that I, Nephi, having been afflicted with my brethren because of the loss of my bow, and their bows having lost their springs, it began to be exceedingly difficult, yea, insomuch that we could obtain no food.
22. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did speak much unto my brethren, because they had hardened their hearts again, even unto complaining against the Lord their God.
Nephi is under a lot of pressure. His father, the patriarch of the family and the prophet, is having a trial of faith and it’s up to Nephi to keep the family focused on the importance of their task. I imagine he must have felt overwhelmed at this burden that has been placed upon him, but he doesn’t complain about his new position in the family. Rather, he gets right to work.
23. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?
I love this verse. Nephi knows his father is struggling, but rather than lecturing his father on his lack of faith, instead he exhibits his trust in his father’s ability to lead and asks Lehi to advise him. I believe this did more for Lehi’s state of mind than any amount of preaching could have done.
24. And it came to pass that he did inquire of the Lord, for they had humbled themselves because of my words; for I did say many things unto them in the energy of my soul.
Nephi’s words, in combination with his faith and his sincerity coupled with his actions, got things going in the right direction again. He didn’t let his frustration get the better of him, but instead, used faith-affirming words to influence his family. What a wonderful example of the Priesthood in action.
25. And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father; and he was truly chastened because of his murmuring against the Lord, insomuch that he was brought down into the depths of sorrow.
Again, I love this. Nephi helped to create an atmosphere in which teaching could take place, and then he let the Lord do the chastening. He didn’t take it upon himself to be his father’s teacher—rather, he left that up to the Lord, the Ultimate Teacher. Nephi was very conscious of his duty to respect his father and didn’t overstep those boundaries.
From today’s reading: how can we help create an atmosphere in which we can learn through the Spirit?