“Thou Art My Servant”

Alan C. Miner

According to Robert Parsons, in 1 Nephi 21:1-3 we meet the pronoun me, identified as the “servant” of God. Scholars generally identify this “servant” as Isaiah or Christ. Parsons believes the term servant has a dual meaning, namely Christ and Israel, with the work of Ephraim, who holds the birthright in Israel, being emphasized. Thus, the meaning of verses 1-3 would be as follows:

The Lord hath called me [Ephraim] from the womb [and] from the bowels of my mother [Ephraim was called in the pre-existence] and he hath made my mouth [Ephraim’s latter-day message of the Restoration] like a sharp sword [the word of God; see D&C 6:2; compare 1 Nephi 16:2];

[He hath] made me [Ephraim and specifically Joseph Smith who is from Ephraim] a polished shaft.

This interpretation is clarified by the Prophet Joseph’s teaching:

I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, … Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them.

Isaiah continues his analogy with “in his quiver hath he hid me” (1 Nephi 21:2). This is also clarified in the Doctrine and Covenants:

Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers--

For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God. (D&C 86:8-9).

The work of Ephraim and Christ in the last days is dually outlined in 1 Nephi 21. [Robert E. Parsons, “The Prophecies of the Prophets,” in The Book of Mormon: First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation, pp. 276-277] [See Richard Anthony’s commentary on 2 Nephi 7; see also his commentary on 2 Nephi 8:18-19]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary