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The Sorrows of Nephi

composed ca. 569 bc

And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the Plates of Brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children. Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord, and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth:

O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh,
My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and
The sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire
To rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins.

Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
My god hath been my support!
He hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness,
And he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing
Of them to quake before me. Behold, he hath heard my cry by day,
And he hath given me knowledge by visions in the nighttime. And by
Day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him.

Yea, my voice have I sent up on high! And angels came
Down and ministered unto me. And upon the wings of his spirit
Hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains.
And mine eyes have beheld great things,
Yea, even too great for man, therefore I was bidden that I should not
Write them. O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord
In his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men
In so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger
In the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength
Slacken, because of mine afflictions?

And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh?
Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil
One have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?
Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart!
And give me place no more for the enemy of my soul. Do not anger again
Because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine
Afflictions. Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord,
I will praise thee forever! Yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my god,
And the rock of my salvation. O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul?
Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies?

Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
May the Gates of Hell be shut continually before me!
Because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord,
Wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, That I
May walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain
Road? O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe
Of thy righteousness? O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape
Before mine enemies? Wilt thou make my path straight before me?
Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way? But that thou
Wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways
Of mine enemy. O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will
Trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh,
For I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.
Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh is arm.
Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh.
Yea, my god will give me, if I ask not amiss! Therefore I will
Lift up my voice unto thee! Yea, I will cry unto thee, my god, the rock
Of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend
Up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting god. Amen.

Behold, it came too pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my god, because of the anger of my brethren. But behold, their anger did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life. Yea, they did murmur against me, saying:

Our younger brother thinks to rule over us!
And we have had much trial because of him! Wherefore, now let us
Slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words.
For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler, for it belongs unto us!
Who are the elder brethren, to rule over this people.

Now I do not write upon these plates all the words which they murmured against me. But it sufficeth me to say, that they did seek to take away my life. And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me. Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me.

And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God: wherefore, they did hearken unto my words. And we did take our tents and whatsoever things were possible for us, and did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. And after we had journeyed for the space of many days we did pitch our tents. And my people would that we should call the name of the place Nephi: wherefore, we did call it Nephi. And all those who were with me did take upon them to call themselves the People of Nephi. And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses. And the Lord was with us, and we did prosper exceedingly. For we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.

And I, Nephi, had also brought the records which were engraven upon the Plates of Brass. And also the ball, or compass, which was prepared for my father by the hand of the Lord, according to that which is written. And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land. And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us: for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people. And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.

And I, Nephi, did build a temple, and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things. For they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon. And the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands. And it came to pass that they would that I should be their king.

But I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no king! Nevertheless, I did for them according to that which was in my power. And behold, the words of the Lord had been fulfilled unto my brethren, which he spake concerning them, that I should be their ruler and their teacher. Wherefore, I had been their ruler and their teacher, according to the commandments of the Lord, until the time they sought to take away my life. Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint. Wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God:

I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people,
Save they shall repent of their iniquities.
And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed;
For they shall be cursed even with the same cursing.

And the Lord spake it, and it was done.20Rather than a “racist” cursing by the Lord, in the matter of pigmentation, the Lamanites became “loathsome” to the Nephites by virtue of their darker skin. That is to say, it was the Nephites who regarded skin pigment as matter of concern, and the Lord used their prejudice to set these people apart, albeit with a stern warning. And because of their cursing which was upon them, they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

And the Lord God said unto me:

They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me!
And inasmuch as they will not remember me,
And hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them
even unto destruction.

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