1 Nephi 16: A Miraculous Ball and a Broken Bow

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 27


Have you ever noticed that when you are in tune with the Spirit it is much easier to deal patiently with the things that go wrong in your life? On the other hand, most people find that as the distance between them and the Lord grows, their control of their temper shrinks. In 1 Nephi 16 you will read about both kinds of experiences. Discover how the Lord sometimes uses adversity to teach important lessons.

Understanding the Scriptures

1 Nephi 16

Hard things (vv. 1–2)Truths difficult to accept
Cutteth them to the very center (v. 2)Exposes their guilt
Exhort (v. 4)Urge, encourage
Provisions (v. 11)Food and supplies
Slings (v. 15)Weapons used for hurling stones
Much fatigued (v. 19)Worn out, exhausted
Chastened (v. 25)Scolded, corrected

1 Nephi 16:10—What Was the “Round Ball of Curious Workmanship”?

Curious in this verse means carefully made, detailed, and intricate. The Lord prepared the ball to guide Lehi and his little colony in the wilderness. We learn from Alma that this ball, which served as a director or compass, was called Liahona (see Alma 37:38).

Lehi and his family discovered that the Liahona had two spindles, or pointers, that showed them which direction to travel (see 1 Nephi 16:10). There was also a place on the ball where writing appeared and was miraculously “changed from time to time” (v. 29; see vv. 26–30). This director would only work according to their faith (see vv. 28–29).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity C (activities A and B are optional) as you study 1 Nephi 16.

Activity A iconWrite a Definition

Nephi’s brothers complained because Nephi spoke unto them “hard things” (1 Nephi 16:1).

  1. 1.

    Study verses 1–3 and explain what you think they meant by “hard things.”

  2. 2.

    Explain why those same truths were not “hard things” to Nephi.

Activity B iconDraw a Picture

Study 1 Nephi 16:10–30 and draw a picture of how you think the Liahona might have looked. Include a description of its features.

Activity C iconSummarize What Happened

Lehi’s family suffered in the wilderness when Nephi’s bow broke.

  1. 1.

    Summarize what happened in each of the following passages from 1 Nephi 16, and then explain what you think Lehi’s family might have learned from each experience:

  1. a.

    Verses 17–19

  2. b.

    Verses 20–21

  3. c.

    Verses 22–23

  4. d.

    Verses 24–29

  5. e.

    Verses 30–31

  1. 2.

    How could the experience of Nephi’s broken bow help you if you suddenly lost a job that provided the necessary money to feed and clothe your family?

  2. 3.

    Even though Lehi murmured, why do you think Nephi went to him for counsel on where to hunt for food?