Verse by Verse Commentary: 1 Nephi 1:15

And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.

Any encounter with God and/or the Savior is a glorious and joyful experience for the righteous. Lehi had just received news that his city is about to be destroyed for wickedness, and yet the vision filled him with rejoicing. Surely the painful news of pending destruction was also accompanied by an understanding of the mind of God in allowing the destructive events to play out. Also, being in the presence of the Lord must have had such an overwhelmingly joyful effect on Lehi as to leave him breathless with joy.

His whole heart was filled.

Obviously this was an overwhelming experience for Lehi. The mortal mind really isn’t fully equipped with the resources to deal with such open and direct communication with God. But there are times when such direct communication is necessary. Ammon, the Nephite missionary, also demonstrated that a person can be so overwhelmed with love and joy that it exhausts the strength:

Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth. 1)Alma 27:17

Now Ammon seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites, his brethren,who had been the cause of so much mourning among the Nephites, or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions, he fell upon his knees, and began to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for his brethren; and he was also overpowered with joy; and thus they all three had sunk to the earth. 2)Alma 19:14

Joseph Smith, Moses, and others have  experienced being overpoweringly exhausted after being in the presence of the Lord. Joseph described, after meeting God and Jesus Christ, being filled with joy for many days3)“My soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me.”. Perhaps joy and love are among the overwhelming factors that cause this exhaustion.

Because of the things which he had seen

Lehi’s powerful vision was more than just an answer to prayer for personal guidance. Lehi had been praying with all his heart on behalf of his people. There is great significance to that fact. As Elder David A. Bednar explains,

Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer. Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.

We learn a vital lesson from the example of Lehi in the Book of Mormon. Lehi responded in faith to prophetic instruction and warnings concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. He then prayed unto the Lord “with all his heart, in behalf of his people” (1 Nephi 1:5; emphasis added). In answer to this fervent prayer, Lehi was blessed with a glorious vision of God and His Son and of the impending destruction of Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 1:6–9, 13, 18). Consequently, Lehi rejoiced, and his whole heart was filled because of the things which the Lord had shown him (see 1 Nephi 1:15). Please note that the vision came in response to a prayer for others and not as a result of a request for personal edification or guidance. 4)David A. Bednar, LDS General Conference, October 2008

 

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Chas Hathaway is the author of the books Scripture Study Made Awesome, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WHO Came Up with Dating? and Giraffe Tracks. Learn more at chashathaway.com. Please participate in the conversation by adding comments and sharing with friends on the web!

Gospel Living Made Awesome is not an official work of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If Chas says something stupid, it's his own fault.

References   [ + ]

1. Alma 27:17
2. Alma 19:14
3. “My soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great Joy and the Lord was with me.”
4. David A. Bednar, LDS General Conference, October 2008

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