“By enduring faith, obedience, and a lifelong study of the word and ways of our Lord, I have come to know His tender mercies. They have been shown unto me in scripture and by the Holy Spirit, and for God’s grace and blessings I am forever grateful. As preached by the prophet Nephi, ‘the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom He hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance’ (1 Nephi 1:20). I have personally witnessed the power of God’s deliverance from turmoil, despair and the dark forces of evil, and I invite you to know and partake of the Lord’s tender mercies, even unto deliverance and salvation. ‘Remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men’ (Moroni 10:3), and rejoice with me in His grace.”Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 27 January 2024
I have believed throughout my life to have been the recipient of great blessings. I was born of goodly parents, with loving brothers and sisters, and grandparents from whom I ever felt love and support. Mom and Dad always provided for my needs plentifully and in kindness. They taught me how to work hard, encouraged education, and provided me with all the advantages of joyful childhood. My parents taught me the gospel of Jesus Christ, to love God, a desire to read the scriptures, and instilled in me faith in His marvelous power. I learned some of my earliest scripture stories from the voice of my mother, and my father baptized me unto the Lord when I was eight years old.
I have always known the gifts of my Heavenly Father. As I have looked around the world for 60 years I have often struggled to understand the reason for my bounteous blessings, when I have seen so many others not as fortunate.
Nevertheless, I have known hardship and affliction, perhaps not so many and much as others, but all my days I have been familiar with the trials and pains of living, of persecution, personal sorrow, and painful loss and injury. I will never know the anguish and sorrows of our Lord, but I believe it is incumbent upon us all, if we are to strive to become more like Him, that we taste of tribulation in the vast sea of our blessing wealth, and endure it as well as we can.
I read the words of an ancient prophet from whose faith and understanding I gain great comfort. I marvel at the great goodness and the mysteries of God, and how He has seen so justly fit to bless my life with favor, and increase my understanding in the furnace of affliction, for my well-being and good by His grace. “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days” (1 Nephi 1:1).
When I served in my youth as a missionary to my fellow children of God in Paraguay, bringing them witness and word of our Savior Jesus Christ, I always felt compelled by heavenly light to read with them the first few chapters of 1 Nephi, that they might grasp the importance of God’s revealed word in their lives. The beginning chapters of the Book of Mormon are filled with treasures of wisdom and lessons of value. They are focused on the priceless nature of God’s word.
So important was the word of God to Lehi of old, and his family, that once by command of the Lord they had escaped Jerusalem, where Lehi’s life was sought and where all their lives were in jeopardy of the imminent Babylonian invasion, Lehi and Sariah’s four sons were sent back to obtain brass plates containing the scriptures. They were sent on a perilous journey where they would be robbed, their lives would be threatened, Sam and Nephi would be attacked by their own brothers, and Nephi would have to do something he would never have considered other than by commandment of the Lord.
Of this seemingly impossible task of obtaining the records of God’s dealings and covenants with their people, Nephi would faithfully respond to his father’s instruction from the Lord, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which He commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).
Once back in Jerusalem, Nephi’s oldest brother Laman tried to persuade the keeper of the sacred records, Laban, to give them to his family, only to be called a robber and threatened with death. The older brothers considered giving up, but Nephi replied, “As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us. Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord” (1 Nephi 3:15-16).
So the brothers returned to Laban together, offering to equitably trade all of the riches of their family for the brass plates. Laban robbed them and sent men to pursue and kill them. Once escaped, Laman and Lemuel beat their younger brothers until an angelic intervention, which came with a command to return and get the plates. When the brothers once more murmured Nephi replied, “Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold He is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? Therefore let us go up; let us be strong” (1 Nephi 4:1-2).
Finally young Nephi stands alone in a dark street having been “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do,” and then commanded to do the unthinkable, to take Laban’s life in order to obtain the records. As Nephi wrestled with his own faith he was instructed, “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief” (1 Nephi 4:13). By command he slew Laban, obtained the record, and returned with his brothers to the tent of his father and mother in the wilderness having fulfilled the commandment of the Lord and thus saving his people, saving us all, from dwindling and perishing in unbelief.
Nephi later declares as he is writing on his own plates, those that shall become the record known to us as the Book of Mormon, his true purpose in the arduous task of making a record. “For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved. Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world” (1 Nephi 6:4-5). Nephi then follows with this strict instruction to those who would write after him, which should give us great confidence in the value of this volume as true word of God. “Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men” (1 Nephi 6:6).
After the brothers safely returned to their parents in the wilderness with the records that they were commanded to obtain, the family rejoiced, made sacrifice and thanked the Lord for His word and for the safe return of their sons. They then showed that gratitude by immediately opening the record and studying the scriptures together as a family. It is written, “…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” (1 Nephi 5:21).
Elder Jeffery R. Holland declared, “God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done so in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: ‘Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived’ and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you” (General Conference, October 2009).
The Lord has given us the holy scriptures. He has commanded that we study as individuals, families and as congregations, and that we share it. He has promised divine and everlasting blessings and safety for obedience to these commands. Let us rejoice in this thing. Let us give thanks. Let us gratefully rejoice in the blessings and grace of our Lord, read, study and share God’s law in its fullness that we not “dwindle and perish in unbelief.” In the words of Nephi, “Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 4:34). We shall! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.