Lesson 17: 1 Nephi 16

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Lehi’s family continued their journey into the wilderness. The Lord blessed them with the Liahona, through which He guided them in their journey. As they traveled, they experienced hardships, including the loss of Nephi’s bow. Nephi chastised his brethren for complaining, constructed a new bow, and sought his father’s counsel regarding where he should hunt.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Nephi 16:1–32

Nephi responds to the murmuring of his brethren, and the Lord guides Lehi’s family in the wilderness through the Liahona

Copy the following chart on the board, and ask students to copy it into their class notebooks or study journals.

Challenges and Hardships

Lehi’s Family



Invite students to list under the heading Me any challenges or hardships they are personally experiencing.

  • What are some common ways people respond to challenges and hardships they face?

Ask students to reflect on how they are responding to the challenges they wrote in the chart.

Explain that Lehi’s family often experienced hardships as they traveled in the wilderness. As students study 1 Nephi 16 today, encourage them to look for how the different individuals in Lehi’s family responded to these trials and how we can invite God’s help in the way that we choose to respond to our personal challenges.

Summarize 1 Nephi 16:1–6 by explaining that Laman and Lemuel complained to Nephi that he had spoken hard things to them as he explained their father’s vision to them. Nephi responded that “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard” (1 Nephi 16:2) and exhorted them to keep the commandments of God. Nephi’s brethren humbled themselves as a result of his diligence in teaching them. In 1 Nephi 16:7–8, we learn that Lehi’s sons and their companion Zoram each married one of Ishmael’s daughters.

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 16:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord provided to help Lehi’s family during their journey.

  • What did the Lord provide for Lehi’s family? (Point out that they called this ball the Liahona [see Alma 37:38].)

Display the picture The Liahona (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 68; see also lds.org/media-library).

The Liahona
  • In what ways do you think such a gift would have been helpful to Lehi and his family in their circumstances?

Summarize 1 Nephi 16:11–15 by explaining that Lehi’s family continued to travel into the wilderness.

Invite students to read 1 Nephi 16:16 silently, looking for how the Liahona helped Lehi’s family. Invite students to report what they find.

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 16:17–19 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for what happened after Lehi’s family had traveled many days with the help of the Liahona.

  • What hardship did Nephi experience? (He broke his bow. You may want to point out that the bows that belonged to Nephi’s brethren had also become useless [see verse 21]. Write broken and useless bows on the board under Lehi’s Family.)

  • How did Nephi’s brethren respond after Nephi’s bow broke?

  • What hardship did the broken and useless bows bring upon the rest of the family? (Write hunger and fatigue on the board under Lehi’s Family.)

Invite students to consider how they might have responded to this trial if they had been part of Lehi’s family.

  • Why do you think righteous people, such as Nephi, sometimes have to face trials? (Explain that many trials we face are not necessarily consequences for wrong choices. Rather, many trials are simply a natural part of life and can be chances to learn and grow as part of our mortal journey.)

Invite half of the class to search 1 Nephi 16:20–22 silently, looking for how some of Lehi’s family reacted to the trial of Nephi’s broken bow. Invite the other half of the class to search 1 Nephi 16:23–25, looking for Nephi’s response to this trial and how his response affected his family. Invite each group to report what they discovered. Then ask the following questions:

  • What can we learn by comparing these two responses to the same trial?

  • Why is it significant that Nephi went to his father for direction, even though Lehi had been murmuring? (You may want to explain that by going to Lehi for direction, Nephi showed respect for him as his father and priesthood leader and helped remind him to turn to the Lord. Seeking counsel from parents and priesthood leaders, despite their imperfections, is a way of honoring them and exercising faith in the Lord.)

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 16:30–32 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what resulted from Nephi’s efforts to respond faithfully to this difficulty.

  • What resulted from Nephi’s efforts to respond faithfully to the difficulty he and his family experienced?

  • What principle can we learn from Nephi’s response to his family’s adversity? (Help students identify a principle such as the following: If we put forth our own effort and seek the Lord’s direction, then He will help us through our difficulties. Write this principle on the board.)

  • Why do you think putting forth our own effort is important in order to receive the Lord’s help through our difficulties?

Invite students to look at the list of their own trials and hardships that they wrote in their charts and to ponder when they may have applied this principle during difficult circumstances. Invite several students to share their experiences with the class. (Remind students not to share anything that is too personal.)

Give students a few moments to ponder what efforts they might be able to make in each of the personally challenging circumstances they wrote down and how they can seek the Lord’s direction.

To help students identify another principle from this account, ask a student to read 1 Nephi 16:26–29 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for details about how the Lord used the Liahona to guide Lehi’s family.

  • What are some ways that the Lord used the Liahona to guide Lehi’s family?

Write the following incomplete sentence on the board: Sources of direction from the Lord work in our lives according to …

  • Using words and phrases contained in verses 28 and 29, how would you finish this principle? (As students respond, complete the statement on the board as follows: Sources of direction from the Lord work in our lives according to the faith, diligence, and heed we give to them.)

  • What is the difference between casually following the direction of the Lord and following the Lord’s direction with faith and diligence?

  • What are some of the “means” (verse 29) by which the Lord guides us today?

handout iconDivide the class into three groups. Give each group a copy of one of the following assignments, in which students will study one of the means by which the Lord guides us. (If your class is large, you may want to divide students into more than three groups to reduce the group size. If you do so, you will need to give one or more groups the same assignment.) Instruct the members of each group to read their assignment together and discuss the accompanying questions.

Group 1: A Patriarchal Blessing

Read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:

President Thomas S. Monson

“The same Lord who provided a Liahona for Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart the way, even safe passage—not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home. The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing. …

“… Your blessing is not to be folded neatly and tucked away. It is not to be framed or published. Rather, it is to be read. It is to be loved. It is to be followed. Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life’s dangers. … Your patriarchal blessing is to you a personal Liahona to chart your course and guide your way” (Thomas S. Monson, “Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 65–66).

  • What are two or three ways in which a patriarchal blessing is like the Liahona?

  • What might cause us to miss important messages contained in our patriarchal blessing?

  • When have you been blessed by following the guidance of your patriarchal blessing?

© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Group 2: The Scriptures and the Words of Latter-Day Prophets

Read aloud the following statement by Elder W. Rolfe Kerr, who served as a member of the Seventy:

Elder W. Rolfe Kerr

“The words of Christ can be a personal Liahona for each of us, showing us the way. Let us not be slothful because of the easiness of the way. Let us in faith take the words of Christ into our minds and into our hearts as they are recorded in sacred scripture and as they are uttered by living prophets, seers, and revelators. Let us with faith and diligence feast upon the words of Christ, for the words of Christ will be our spiritual Liahona telling us all things what we should do” (W. Rolfe Kerr, “The Words of Christ—Our Spiritual Liahona,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 37).

  • What are two or three ways in which the scriptures and words of latter-day prophets are like the Liahona?

  • What might cause us to miss important messages contained in the scriptures or in the words of the latter-day prophets?

  • When have you been blessed by following the guidance of the scriptures or latter-day prophets?

© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Group 3: The Holy Ghost

Read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder David A. Bednar

“As we strive to align our attitudes and actions with righteousness, then the Holy Ghost becomes for us today what the Liahona was for Lehi and his family in their day. The very factors that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. And the very factors that caused the Liahona not to work anciently will likewise cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost today” (David A. Bednar, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 30).

  • What are two or three ways in which the Holy Ghost is like the Liahona?

  • What might cause us to miss important messages from the Holy Ghost?

  • When have you been blessed by following the guidance of the Holy Ghost?

© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

After sufficient time, ask someone from each group to teach the class what the members of his or her group have learned from their discussion. Consider telling about a time when you received guidance from the Lord through one of the sources you have discussed. Invite students to apply what they have learned by giving faith, diligence, and heed to the sources of direction the Lord has provided for us.

1 Nephi 16:33–39

Ishmael dies, and some of Ishmael and Lehi’s children murmur and conspire to kill Lehi and Nephi

Explain that in 1 Nephi 16:33–39 we learn that Ishmael died. Some of his children mourned exceedingly and again began to murmur against Lehi and Nephi. Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael conspired to kill Lehi and Nephi, but the voice of the Lord rebuked them and they repented and turned away from their anger.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Nephi 16:18. A bow “made of fine steel”

One article explained the use of steel by Book of Mormon cultures:

“The overall question of the use of metals by Book of Mormon cultures is an important topic that deserves detailed attention [see John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (1985), 277–88]. … There are five explicit references to metal weapons and armor in the Book of Mormon. Two are references to Near East weapons: ‘the blade [of Laban’s sword] was of the most precious steel’ (1 Nephi 4:9), and Nephi’s bow was made of ‘fine steel’ (1 Nephi 16:18). The existence of steel (that is, carburized iron) weapons in the Near East in the early sixth century B.C. has been clearly demonstrated. Robert Maddin writes, ‘To sum up, by the beginning of the seventh century B.C. at the latest, the blacksmiths of the eastern Mediterranean had mastered two of the processes that make iron a useful material for tools and weapons: carburizing and quenching’ [“How the Iron Age Began,” Scientific American, Oct. 1977, 131]” (William J. Hamblin and A. Brent Merrill, “Swords in the Book of Mormon,” in Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin, eds., Warfare in the Book of Mormon [1990], 345–46).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

1 Nephi 16:1–6. Laman and Lemuel complain that Nephi has spoken hard things against them

Before class, write the following truth on the board: Heavenly Father has commanded us to be chaste. Begin class by asking the following question:

  • What are some different ways in which people might respond to hearing this truth?

Invite students to ponder reasons for the different reactions that were mentioned.

Remind students that according to 1 Nephi 15, Nephi taught his brethren about their father’s vision, including the punishment that awaits the wicked (see 1 Nephi 15:29–35). Invite students to read 1 Nephi 16:1 silently, looking for how Laman and Lemuel responded to Nephi’s teachings.

  • How did Laman and Lemuel respond to Nephi’s teachings?

Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 16:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi taught about how the wicked and the righteous respond when truth is taught.

  • What is a truth we can learn from these verses about how the guilty and the righteous respond to hearing the truth? (Help students identify a principle similar to the following: The guilty take the truth to be hard, while the righteous are willing to give heed to it. You may want to invite students to consider marking phrases in these verses that teach this truth.)

  • What do you think it means that “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard” (verse 2)? (Help students understand that those who are guilty, or disobedient to God’s commandments, generally do not receive counsel or correction easily from the Lord and His servants.)

Invite students to ponder how they respond when they are taught gospel truths.

Summarize 1 Nephi 16:4–6 by explaining that Nephi’s brethren humbled themselves as a result of Nephi’s diligence in teaching.