Nephi’s Bow

Nephi’s Bow

There is a story in the Book of Mormon of a broken bow, but it turns out to be a story about much more than that.

600  B.C.

Lehi has left Jerusalem and taken his family into the wilderness. In order to survive, they must hunt. His son Nephi tells us:

“And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food.

And it came to pass that we did return without food to our families, and being much fatigued, because of their journeying, they did suffer much for the want of food.” – 1 Nephi 16:18, 19

When his brothers find out that his bow has been broken they complain because that’s what they were best at. They complained about everything.. But for the first time Nephi’s father Lehi complains. Lehi, a pillar of faith and strength, complains.


There are two lessons in verse 23. The first is simple and somewhat obvious.

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones.” – 1 Nephi 16:23

The lesson is this: Do something. Rather than sit around complaining about your situation, get up and do something about it.  You may not always know what to do right then, but you can do SOMETHING. Even to stop complaining is SOMETHING. When you stop complaining your head will be cleared and you will have an idea of what to do next.

Saint Francis of Assisi said,

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”


The second extremely important lesson comes in the last line of verse 23 after Nephi has made a bow and an arrow.

“I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?” 1 Nephi 16:23

Nephi was a smart young man. He was obviously a self-starter. He had had great spiritual experiences and had talked with an angel of the Lord. Why did he go to his father to to know where to go to obtain food?  He went to his father because, even at that young age, Nephi knew what the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Geothe taught.

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”

For the first and only time in the Book of Mormon, Nephi’s father is complaining about their situation. Instead of going off alone to find food, Nephi treats his father like the leader he ought to be and could be. As a result, Lehi goes to the Lord in prayer, repents of his murmuring, and asks for guidance. The Lord tells them where to find food and the family is saved from suffering.


If an employee treats a difficult supervisor like the good boss she ought to be and could be, she will become the boss she could be.

If a parent treats a stubborn child like the child he ought to be and could be, he will become that kind of adult.

After all, isn’t that why we put a child’s drawing on the fridge? We don’t put it there because it is a great work of art. We put it there to tell them what an important member of the family they are.

Copyright © 2013 by Energy Media Works LLC


Related Information:

The story of Nephi’s bow – The Book of Mormon (source:

Touching the Hearts of our Youth (source: — Video

More about St. Francis of Assisi (source: Wikipedia)

More about Johann Wolfgang von Geothe (source Wikipedia)


Image Credits:

Main title image (Desert of Oman) by: Wikimedia commons, Hendrik Dacquin

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