After Lehi’s death, Laman and Lemuel became angry with Nephi “because of the admonitions of the Lord” that Nephi had spoken to them (see 2 Nephi 4:13–14). Troubled by his brothers’ attitudes and actions and by his own weaknesses and sins, Nephi recorded his feelings in expressive and poetic language. He described his love for the scriptures and his gratitude for the blessings and strength he had received from the Lord.
Prior to class, write the following incomplete statement on the board: I study the scriptures because …
Begin class by inviting students to come to the board and complete the statement. Invite a few students to explain why they wrote what they did.
Point out that it can sometimes be difficult for people to consistently study the scriptures. As students study 2 Nephi 4:1–16 today, invite them to look for truths that Nephi taught about the blessings of studying the scriptures.
Summarize 2 Nephi 4:1–12 by explaining that before Lehi died, he counseled and blessed his and Ishmael’s posterity one last time. This included a blessing that the Lord would be merciful to the posterity of Laman and Lemuel.
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 4:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened shortly after Lehi’s death.
What happened shortly after Lehi’s death?
Why were Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael angry with Nephi?
Point out that according to verse 14, Nephi recorded more historical details on the large plates of Nephi.
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 4:15–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi said he engraved upon the small plates.
What did Nephi engrave on the small plates?
What phrase describes how Nephi felt about the scriptures?
What truth do we learn from verse 15 about why scriptures are written? (Help students identify the following truth: Scriptures are written for our learning and profit. Write this truth on the board.)
How do you think pondering the scriptures would have profited (or benefitted) Nephi at this time when his father had died and his brothers were angry with him?
How have the scriptures profited you?
You may want to invite students to evaluate their progress concerning the goals they set at the beginning of this seminary course to study the scriptures daily and to read the entire Book of Mormon. Encourage students to continue their efforts to achieve these goals.
Explain that in the verses that follow verse 16, we see that Nephi recorded some of his deepest feelings and testimony. Encourage students to consider how these verses were written for their learning and profit.
To prepare students to study 2 Nephi 4:17–35, ask the following question:
What thoughts or feelings might people have when they contemplate their weaknesses and sins?
Ask students to think about a weakness or sin that may be causing them frustration or discouragement. As students continue their study of 2 Nephi 4 today, invite them to look for truths that can help them overcome the sin or weakness they thought of.
Point out that much of Nephi’s sorrow resulted from the actions and attitudes of his older brothers, but there were also other reasons for Nephi’s sorrow and affliction. Write the following incomplete statement on the board: My heart sorroweth because …
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 4:17–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons Nephi felt sorrow. As the verses are read, you may need to explain that the word wretched means miserable or of low quality. In the scriptures, the word flesh often refers to the weakness we have because we live in a fallen state. The word beset means to be attacked from all sides.
According to these verses, why was Nephi’s heart sorrowful? (Write students’ responses on the board to complete the phrase My heart sorroweth because …)
Invite students to consider if they can relate to any of Nephi’s feelings.
Point out that in 2 Nephi 4:19, Nephi’s words change from sadness to hope. Invite students to read 2 Nephi 4:19 silently, looking for a phrase that indicates Nephi’s hope. Ask students to report what they find.
What do you think Nephi meant when he said “I know in whom I have trusted”?
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Nephi 4:20–25. Ask the class to follow along, looking for experiences that had helped Nephi learn to trust in the Lord.
What experiences had helped Nephi learn to trust the Lord?
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: Trusting in the Lord and remembering past spiritual experiences can help us …
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 4:26–29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the effect that remembering past spiritual experiences had on Nephi.
What effect did remembering his past spiritual experiences have on Nephi? (As needed, explain that recalling these experiences helped Nephi overcome the temptations and discouragement he faced.)
Based on what we learn from 2 Nephi 4:26–29, how would you complete the statement on the board? (After students respond, complete the statement so that it conveys the following truth: Trusting in the Lord and remembering past spiritual experiences can help us overcome temptations and discouragement. You may want to invite students to consider writing this principle next to 2 Nephi 4:26–29.)
How can trusting in the Lord and remembering spiritual experiences we’ve had help us during times of temptation and discouragement?
Invite students to think of a time when the Lord helped them overcome temptation or difficulty as they trusted in Him. Then ask them to answer the following questions in their class notebooks or study journals. (You may want to write these questions on the board.)
How did the Lord help you? How has that experience influenced you?
Consider dividing students into pairs or small groups and inviting the members of each group to share with each other what they wrote. (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too personal or sacred.)
Students may also benefit if you tell about a time when the Lord helped you as you trusted in Him or remembered past spiritual experiences.
Explain that in 2 Nephi 4:30–35, Nephi recorded the words of a prayer he offered to God. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Nephi 4:30–35. Ask the class to follow along and look for statements that provide a good example of what we can pray for during difficult times. You may want to invite students to consider marking what they find.
What statements did you find that provide a good example of what we can pray for during difficult times? Why might it be helpful to pray for those things?
How would you summarize what Nephi prayed for as recorded in verses 31–33? (Help students understand that Nephi pled for deliverance from both physical and spiritual enemies and for strength to remain faithful to God.)
How would you summarize as a principle what we can learn about prayer from these verses? (Help students identify a principle similar to the following: If we pray to God sincerely, we can receive His help to overcome sin and discouragement.)
To help students understand what it means to pray sincerely, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency:
“Sincere prayers come from the heart. Indeed, sincerity requires that we draw from the earnest feelings of our hearts” (James E. Faust, “The Lifeline of Prayer,” Ensign, May 2002, 60).
Why do you think sincere prayer from the heart invites God’s help?
Invite students to think about a time when sincere prayer helped them overcome sin or discouragement.
Invite students to reflect on the weakness or sin they thought of earlier in the lesson. Review and testify of the truths students identified in this lesson, and ask students to ponder how they can apply these truths to help them overcome whatever weaknesses or sins they may have. Invite students to write down what they feel impressed to do.