The book titled Words of Mormon serves as a bridge between the small plates of Nephi and Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi. In this book, which Mormon wrote almost 400 years after the birth of Jesus Christ, Mormon explained that he sought direction from God and was guided by the Holy Spirit about what to include in his record. Mosiah 1 contains some of King Benjamin’s teachings to his sons. He taught them that the scriptures help us remember God and keep His commandments.
Invite a student to read aloud the following account by President Thomas S. Monson:
“On one occasion many years ago, I was swimming laps at the old Deseret Gym in Salt Lake City when I felt the inspiration to go to the University Hospital to visit a good friend of mine who had lost the use of his lower limbs because of a malignancy and the surgery which followed. I immediately left the pool, dressed, and was soon on my way to see this good man” (Thomas S. Monson, “Consider the Blessings,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 87).
How did President Monson respond to the prompting he received?
Did President Monson indicate that he immediately understood why the Lord wanted him to visit his friend? What are some other ways he could have chosen to respond to this prompting?
Explain to students that today they will study the example of Mormon, who followed a prompting from the Spirit even though he did not understand all the reasons why he needed to do it. As students study Words of Mormon today, invite them to look for truths that can help them strengthen their commitment to act on the promptings they receive from the Spirit.
Display the picture Mormon Abridging the Plates (Gospel Art Book , no. 73; see also lds.org/media-library). Invite a student to read Words of Mormon 1:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what events had taken place by the time Mormon wrote this record. Invite them to report what they find. Explain that Words of Mormon was written more than 500 years after the book of Omni was written.
To help students visualize how Words of Mormon, the small plates of Nephi, and Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi fit together in the Book of Mormon, consider showing them the chart titled “The Plates and Their Relationship to the Published Book of Mormon” in the appendix at the end of this manual.
Invite students to read Words of Mormon 1:3 silently. Ask them to look for what Mormon discovered after he had abridged a portion of the large plates of Nephi. As students report what they have found, help them understand that the phrase “these plates” refers to the small plates of Nephi. Explain that from this record, Joseph Smith translated the books of 1 Nephi through Omni.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Words of Mormon 1:4–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Mormon felt about the small plates of Nephi. (You may want to explain that the phrase “remainder of my record” in verse 6 refers to Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi.)
What did Mormon find pleasing in the small plates of Nephi?
What did Mormon do with the small plates of Nephi?
Invite a student to read Words of Mormon 1:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Mormon’s reason for including the small plates of Nephi with his abridgment of the large plates of Nephi.
Why did Mormon include the small plates with his abridgment of the large plates? (He followed a prompting from the Spirit.)
Did he understand all the reasons why he should do this?
Help students see that Mormon understood some reasons why the small plates might be important, but he did not know all the reasons why he needed to include them in addition to the portion of the large plates that covered the same historical period. Point out that one reason it was wise to include the small plates was because Martin Harris would later lose the first 116 pages of Joseph Smith’s translation of the large plates (see the introduction to Words of Mormon in this manual).
What is a truth in Words of Mormon 1:7 that helps us understand why we should follow promptings from the Spirit, even if we do not understand the reasons for doing so? (Students should identify the following truth: The Lord knows all things. Invite students to consider marking this truth in verse 7).
What principle can we learn from verse 7 that describes what can happen if we follow the promptings of the Spirit? (Help students identify the following principle: If we follow promptings from the Spirit, then the Lord can work through us to accomplish His will.)
How might these truths help you when you receive promptings from the Spirit?
Invite a student to read Words of Mormon 1:8 aloud. Ask the class to look for what Mormon hoped would be the result of following the prompting to include the small plates of Nephi in his compilation of the records. Invite students to report what they find.
Emphasize that all the writings the students have studied so far this year in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi–Omni) are available to them because Mormon followed the spiritual impression to include the small plates.
How has Mormon’s obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit blessed your life?
How can our willingness to follow spiritual promptings influence our lives or the lives of others?
Ask a student to read aloud the rest of President Monson’s experience. Invite students to listen for what happened when President Monson followed the prompting of the Spirit.
“When I arrived at his room, I found that it was empty. Upon inquiry I learned that I would probably find him in the swimming pool area of the hospital, an area which was used for physical therapy. Such turned out to be the case. He had guided himself there in his wheelchair and was the only occupant of the room. He was on the far side of the pool, near the deep end. I called to him, and he maneuvered his wheelchair over to greet me. We had an enjoyable visit, and I accompanied him back to his hospital room, where I gave him a blessing.
“I learned later from my friend that he had been utterly despondent that day and had been contemplating taking his own life. He had prayed for relief but began to feel that his prayers had gone unanswered. He went to the pool with the thought that this would be a way to end his misery—by guiding his wheelchair into the deep end of the pool. I had arrived at a critical moment, in response to what I know was inspiration from on high.
How does this account illustrate the importance of acting on the promptings we receive from the Spirit?
Explain that spiritual promptings are often quiet feelings or thoughts and that it may sometimes be difficult to know whether thoughts that we have come from us or from the Holy Ghost. Either way, if we have a thought or feeling to do something good, we should do it.
Ask students to think about a time when the Spirit prompted them to do something. You may want to have them write about this experience in their study journals or class notebooks.
Invite a few students to share what they wrote. (Ensure that they understand that they should not share experiences that are too personal or private.) As students share their experiences, you may want to ask some of the following questions:
Did you understand all of the reasons why you needed to follow the prompting?
What gave you the determination and faith to act on the prompting?
What blessings came to you or others because you followed that prompting?
Testify that when we are faithful to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the Lord will work “in [us] to do according to his will” (Words of Mormon 1:7). Encourage students to act on the promptings of the Spirit they receive.
Explain that Words of Mormon 1:12–18 introduces the reign of King Benjamin, who was the son of King Mosiah. This righteous man faced many obstacles during his service as a prophet and the people’s king, including a war with the Lamanites, false prophets and teachers, and much contention among his people.
Invite students to read Words of Mormon 1:17–18 silently, looking for what King Benjamin did, with the help of other prophets, to overcome these challenges. Invite students to report what they find.
Briefly introduce the book of Mosiah. Explain that Mormon compiled and abridged the records of several other writers to create the book of Mosiah. Explain that the beginning of this book shows King Benjamin’s desire for his sons to continue learning from the scriptures (see Mosiah 1:2). As King Benjamin taught his sons, he explained how their lives would have been different if they had never received the scriptures.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Mosiah 1:3–7. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what King Benjamin taught his sons about the scriptures. Ask students to report what they have learned.
What principles about studying the scriptures can we learn from these verses? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principles: If we do not read the scriptures continually, then we can gradually lose our faith. We will profit by searching the scriptures diligently.)
To help students understand these principles, ask:
Why do you think that our faith and gospel knowledge can dwindle if we do not read the scriptures continually?
What experiences have you had that have taught you the importance of daily scripture study?
Encourage students to write a goal in their class notebooks or study journals to improve in their efforts to study the scriptures.
Summarize Mosiah 1:9–18 by explaining that King Benjamin desired to gather his people together prior to his death to proclaim that his son Mosiah would be their new king and to help his people take the name of Jesus Christ upon themselves (see Mosiah 1:11; 5:7–8). He also gave Mosiah charge over the kingdom and the plates.
Conclude by testifying of the truths students identified in this lesson.