1 Nephi 2:15-17 — LeGrand Baker — “and behold he did visit me”

1 Nephi 2:15-17 

15 And my father dwelt in a tent.{1}
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.

One of the wonderful things about the scriptures is that they speak in many voices—and it is the reader, not the author, who chooses the voice. When one asks what a scripture means, there are two possible answers: the first is that it means what the Spirit teaches one that it means so that it may be most applicable to one’s life just then. Because that is true, the meaning we perceive may not only be different from person-to-person but it may have a different application as we mature or as our needs change. The second is that the passage means precisely what the author intended it to mean. These verses are an interesting example of that.

Nephi tells us: “I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father.” As a boy I was taught that the “visit” was symbolic—that, in fact, there was no actual visit at all but that he had been filled with the Holy Ghost, and thus his heart had been softened that he could believe. I was also taught that if I would pray to be able to believe, the Holy Ghost would visit me in the same way. That was a good explanation, and an encouragement for a boy who wanted to be taught to believe.

I no longer believe that was what Nephi intended us to learn from his statement. He says, “he did visit me,” I believe that is a simple, concise, and accurate description of what happened.
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FOOTNOTE

{1} See1 Nephi 2:4-6, Lehi’s Tent as a Tabernacle.

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