First Nephi chapter 5 is the result of Nephi's and his brothers' great adventure
in obtaining the Brass Plates, with the great help of the Lord. It is a time of
sweet communion with God as they read and search the scriptures. They thank God
for preserving them, and for these precious words. They are filled with the Spirit
of the Lord. They recognize God's wisdom in sending them to retrieve the records,
despite all the difficulties they had to go through. They find stories in the scriptures
that inspire them in their own lives. They value the commandments of God which are
revealed in the scriptures.
God • The God of Israel
the Lord • the Spirit
1 Nephi 5:4
The goodness of God
The Book of Mormon teaches how blessed it is to know the goodness of God.
And it had come to pass that my father spake unto her, saying:
I know that I am a visionary man;
for if I had not seen the things of God in a vision
I should not have known the goodness of God,
but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren.
In Sariah’s complaints against Lehi she did not mention God. Lehi, in his defense,
gave credit (and not blame) to God, and continued to be steadfast and look on the
bright side – look at the evil they had avoided. He sidesteps her specific complaints
– she’s looking in the wrong direction, both in not looking to God and in looking
at problems that she sees, and not at blessings they are also receiving.
The Book of Mormon teaches us that when problems arise in the process of keeping
commandments, we have a choice: We can focus on the problems, and complain about
them, and complain about revelations, or we can look on the bright side at the good
things that have happened and are happening.
1 Nephi 5:5
I do rejoice
The Book of Mormon teaches us to rejoice in our blessings,
and not focus on the problems, but face them with faith in the Lord.
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 bring them down again unto us in the wilderness.
Lehi used the key word “deliver,” not knowing how literal that would be. His answer
showed faith in the Lord during the process. When we are in the midst of something,
we don’t know the end from the beginning, but we can have confidence that the Lord
does. If we are on his errand we can press forward and not murmur.
Lehi’s great faith is shown in his use of the past perfect – I have obtained. He
knows so surely that the Lord will deliver on His promise of a promised land that
he considers it a done deal, more than a hope of a future.
1 Nephi 5:8
I know of a surety
The Book of Mormon teaches that with faith
we may know of a surety things that unbelievers cannot perceive.
And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety
that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness;
yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons,
and delivered them out of the hands of Laban,
and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing
which the Lord hath commanded them.
And after this manner of language did she speak.
Sariah is convinced of the truth of Lehi’s prophetic call, not by the Spirit, but
by the circumstances. The circumstance is that Nephi’s words, as she repeats them,
were verified (“given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the
Lord hath commanded them”), and Lehi’s words (“Lord. . . delivered them out of the
hands of Laban”) were also verified. Therefore, as she begins her statement, she
knows that the Lord also commanded her husband to flee into the wilderness. This
must have been a time of transformation for her. She could now look forward and
not backward with doubt.
Too bad Laman and Lemuel didn’t allow this to change their perspective.
Lehi received revelations from God because he prayed in behalf of his people, and
was willing to do what the Lord required.
Nephi received revelations from God because he prayed in behalf of his brethren,
and was always eager to be obedient.
Sariah received the assurance that the revelations from God were true, because she
was willing to change her mind when she saw that they worked out well in a specific
Laman and Lemuel never received any revelations, only signs, because they did not
pray, they were not willing to obey except reluctantly, and they were not willing
to change their point of view.
Today we may receive a testimony in the different ways these Book of Mormon people
received their witnesses.
1 Nephi 5:9
They gave thanks unto God
The Book of Mormon teaches us to offer thanks to God for His help in our lives.
And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly,
and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord;
and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel.
After the successful return of the sons with the Brass Plates, Lehi’s group gave
thanks to the Lord, the God of Israel.
When we are delivered we should recognize the hand of the Lord in it, and give Him
the thanks and credit. He is right there, part of the story.
1 Nephi 5:10
He did search the records
The Book of Mormon teaches us to search the scriptures.
And after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel,
my father, Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass,
and he did search them from the beginning.
After Lehi gave thanks to the Lord their God, he began to search the scriptures.
First we pray, then we read our scriptures. Even for a person who has had visions
it is important to search the scriptures. In fact, the more one has received, perhaps
the more one will long for more, and find it in the scriptures. God is in the scriptures,
including the Book of Mormon and the Bible.
1 Nephi 5:14
Joseph was preserved by the hand of the Lord
The Book of Mormon recognizes how important the Bible story of Joseph was and is.
And it came to pass that my father, Lehi,
also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers;
wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph;
yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt,
and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord,
that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household
from perishing with famine.
There were many stories on the Brass Plates, but the one Nephi emphasized in his
record, either because it impressed him most at the time, or because it supports
the theme of the book he is writing, is the story of Joseph. There are two deliverances
in this one verse:
a. Joseph was preserved (as we know from the original record),
i. By being delivered out of the hands of his angry brethren, not by Simeon, who
wanted to deliver him out of the pit, but by Judah who would rather have money than
a brother’s blood on his hands. (Genesis 37)
ii. By being delivered out of the hands of the lustful Potiphar’s wife by being
sent to jail and not receiving a more customary death sentence. (Genesis 39)
iii. By being delivered out of jail when the time was right by dream revelations
from God, so that he could save the nation of Egypt from the famine. (Genesis 41)
b. Joseph, through the dreams of Pharaoh and the revelations of God, saves his family
from famine as well. (Genesis 42-45)
This must have been an important story for Nephi at the time, since he knew he had
also just been delivered by the hand of the Lord, and he was also making a journey
to an unknown land, as his father Joseph had journeyed against his will to a new
land. Nephi’s journey was not necessarily against his will, but the idea was not
of his originating, nor even of his father’s; it was the Lord’s idea. Joseph, when
he was reunited with his brothers, emphasized to them that his own removal into Egypt
was planned by God for the very purpose of delivering them at that time. Nephi and
Joseph both had jealous older brothers, envious of the favor gained by their younger
brothers, yet unwilling to pay the price to earn that favor for themselves. Perhaps
Nephi hopes that there will be a future sweet reconciliation with his brothers, as
there was with Joseph and his brothers. Unfortunately, as we know, the Book of Mormon
records no such joyful event.
1 Nephi 5:15
That same God delivered them
The Book of Mormon emphasizes God’s deliverance of His people.
And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt,
by that same God who had preserved them.
Nephi continues noting what his father saw on the Brass Plates, again reminding
his readers of when God delivered the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt.
1 Nephi 5:17
He was filled with the Spirit
And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit,
and began to prophesy concerning his seed –
Lehi became filled with the Spirit when he read the Brass Plates.
Reading the scriptures, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon, is one way to
invite the Spirit into our hearts.
1 Nephi 5:20
Thus far we had kept the commandments
The Book of Mormon teaches that
keeping the commandments is a worthwhile achievement.
And it came to pass that thus far I and my father had kept the commandments wherewith
the Lord had commanded us.
As Nephi concludes the important story of obtaining the Brass Plates, his first
consideration is that “thus far” he and his father had kept the commandments of the
Lord. Nephi has written the phrase “Keep the commandments of the Lord,” in whole
or in part, 17 times in his story. This has been his major focus; WHY the Lord might
require it was secondary. Both an angel and the Spirit made declarations in furthering
the project, but neither of them mentioned keeping the commandments – it was always
present in Nephi’s mind.
1 Nephi 5:21
Desirable and of great worth
The Book of Mormon teaches that the scriptures
are desirable and of great worth.
And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us,
and searched them and found that they were desirable;
yea, even of great worth unto us,
insomuch that we could preserve
the commandments of the Lord unto our children.
Nephi reiterates that they succeeded in their task – their commandment – from the
Lord, and they discovered that their obedience to the Lord’s commandment would enable
their children’s obedience. It wouldn’t, of course, assure it, but it would give
their descendants the opportunity to obey the commandments of the Lord, because they
knew the commandments from the writings which Nephi had acquired.
The Book of Mormon will later reveal a people who did not bring scriptures with them
to the promised land, due to Nephi’s exertions and faith, his descendents will have
the written word of the Lord.
1 Nephi 5:22
Wisdom in the Lord
The Book of Mormon teaches that it is wisdom in God
that people should have His word in the scriptures.
Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us,
as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise.
Nephi says it was wisdom in the Lord that they should take the Brass Plates with
them into the wilderness. He was vaguely aware of that wisdom, of the need his seed
would have of the scriptures, when he smote off the head of Laban. But in the beginning
of the story there is no indication that either he or Lehi, much less Laman and Lemuel,
had any idea of why the Brass Plates were important. All that was said of them in
the beginning was that they were a history book and a genealogy book, certainly dry
It was wisdom in the Lord. Why didn’t he tell them in the first place to take them?
As He seems to do, He gives a bare-bones command: Flee. The family had to decide
what to take and what to leave. This must have been a subject of discussion, because
Nephi specifically said they took nothing but tents and provisions. With their wisdom,
they took what they thought they needed. The Lord waited until they had done it
their way (but not too long!) before He pointed out something very important that
they needed. He had more of a perspective on their flight through the desert, and
their eventual Promised Land. They brought what would sustain physical life at the
moment; He planned for their spiritual life through the ages.