The account in 1 Nephi 2 shows different responses to commandments from the Lord. Lehi obeyed the Lord’s command to lead his family into the wilderness. Faced with the difficulty of this command, Laman and Lemuel rebelled. In contrast, Nephi sought a confirming witness.
Suggestions for Teaching
God commands Lehi to depart into the wilderness
Ask students to imagine that their parents have told them that their families must leave their homes tomorrow, abandoning almost all of their possessions. They will walk into the wilderness, taking only the provisions they need to stay alive.
How might you respond?
How would your response change if you knew that the command to move into the wilderness had come from the Lord?
Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 2:1–6 aloud. Ask the class to look for reasons why Lehi led his family into the wilderness.
What commandment did Lehi receive from the Lord? (See 1 Nephi 2:2.)
What can you learn from Lehi’s decisions about what to take and what to leave behind?
Ask a student to read 1 Nephi 2:7 aloud.
Lehi offered thanks to the Lord just after leaving his home and belongings. What can we learn from this?
What did Lehi have to be thankful for?
Write the following statement on the board: When we are faithful and obedient, the Lord will help us in times of trial.
When have you felt the Lord help you in times of trial? (Encourage students to seek the guidance of the Spirit in answering this question. Help them understand that they do not need to share experiences that are too personal or private.)
Laman and Lemuel murmur against their father
Ask students to silently ask themselves if they have ever complained, either vocally or inwardly, about a commandment from the Lord or about a request from a parent or Church leader. Give them a moment to reflect on their experiences.
Why do we sometimes complain when we are given direction?
Write River and Valley on the board. Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 2:8–10 aloud.
In what way did Lehi want Laman to be like a river? In what way did he want Lemuel to be like a valley? (You may want to ask students to write their answers on the board next to the words River and Valley.)
What was Lehi trying to teach Laman and Lemuel?
Have students read 1 Nephi 2:11–14 silently.
What are some reasons why Laman and Lemuel murmured against their father?
In 1 Nephi 2:11, the word stiffneckedness refers to pride or stubbornness. Why do feelings of pride sometimes lead people to murmur?
Why do you think murmuring sometimes results when people do not understand the dealings of God?
Explain that one reason Satan wants us to murmur is that it prevents us from following living prophets, other inspired leaders, and parents. As part of your discussion, you may want to share the following, based on a statement by Elder H. Ross Workman of the Seventy:
“Murmuring consists of three steps, each leading to the next in a descending path to disobedience.” First, people begin to question. They question “first in their own minds,” and then they plant questions “in the minds of others.” Second, those who murmur begin to “rationalize and excuse themselves from doing what they [have] been instructed to do. … Thus, they [make] an excuse for disobedience.” Their excuses lead to the third step: “Slothfulness in following the commandment of the Master. …
“I invite you to focus on the commandment from living prophets that bothers you the most. Do you question whether the commandment is applicable to you? Do you find ready excuses why you cannot now comply with the commandment? Do you feel frustrated or irritated with those who remind you of the commandment? Are you slothful in keeping it? Beware of the deception of the adversary. Beware of murmuring” (“Beware of Murmuring,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 85–86).
Invite students to answer the following question in their scripture study journals or class notebooks:
What can you do if you find yourself murmuring about the Lord’s prophets and commandments?
Nephi seeks understanding from the Lord
Have students read and ponder 1 Nephi 2:16, 19 silently.
How did Nephi respond to his father’s message?
When have you called upon God and felt your heart soften?
Give students the opportunity to tell about times when the Lord has softened their hearts (but remind them that they should not feel obligated to share experiences that are too personal or private). In addition, you may want to tell about a time when the Lord softened your heart. Assure students that when we call upon God, He can soften our hearts to believe His words.
Read 1 Nephi 2:19 aloud. Have students explain in their own words the meaning of the terms “diligently” and “lowliness of heart.” Encourage them to seek the Lord as Nephi did.
Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 2:17–18 aloud.
What principles can we learn from the different responses of Nephi, Sam, Laman, and Lemuel?
When have the words of a family member or friend strengthened your faith, just as Nephi’s words strengthened Sam’s faith?
Those who keep the commandments will prosper
Have students read 1 Nephi 2:20–21. Invite them to identify or mark the promise that “inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper.” Explain that as they study the Book of Mormon, they will read about many instances of this promise being fulfilled.
Consider sharing the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Obedience is the first law of heaven. All progression, all perfection, all salvation, all godliness, all that is right and just and true, all good things come to those who live the laws of Him who is Eternal. There is nothing in all eternity more important than to keep the commandments of God” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ , 126).
Share your testimony that God blesses those who are obedient and faithful. Like Nephi, students can develop confidence in receiving direction from the Lord. Encourage them to strive to become more obedient and to follow the guidance they receive from the Holy Spirit.
Commentary and Background Information
1 Nephi 2:2–6. Possible route taken by Lehi’s family
Lehi may have led his family to the Red Sea near the Gulf of Aqaba, about 180 miles (290 kilometers) from Jerusalem. This would require traveling through a hot and barren country, known for thieves who waited to rob unprepared travelers. After reaching the Red Sea, the family traveled three more days before camping in a river valley. The journey from Jerusalem to the river valley may have taken about 14 days. You may want to remind students of these distances and times when they read about Nephi and his brothers journeying back to Jerusalem.
1 Nephi 2:7. Showing gratitude to the Lord
Lehi’s appreciation for the Lord’s guidance and protection is demonstrated in 1 Nephi 2:7: “He built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.” This is the first of several instances in the Book of Mormon when faithful followers of Christ offered sacrifices and burnt offerings to express thanks to God (see, for example, 1 Nephi 7:22; Mosiah 2:3–4). Sincere expressions of gratitude and obedience to Heavenly Father are necessary for all His children if they are to please Him (see D&C 59:21).
Supplemental Teaching Idea
1 Nephi 2:1–3, 16–19. Soft hearts and revelation
Remind students that in 1 Nephi 1, Nephi describes a revelation Lehi received while he was “overcome with the Spirit” (1 Nephi 1:7). In that vision, Lehi read from a book containing prophecies and was “filled with the Spirit“ (1 Nephi 1:12). In 1 Nephi 2, the theme of revelation continues as Nephi tells of his father receiving a warning from the Lord in a dream (see 1 Nephi 2:1–3). Nephi also tells of his own experience in receiving revelation and following the voice of the Lord.
Display two objects—one that is soft and absorbent (such as a piece of cloth or a sponge) and one that is hard (such as a stone). Then ask a student to read 1 Nephi 2:16–19 aloud.
In what ways were Lehi, Nephi, and Sam’s hearts like this soft object?
In what ways were Laman and Lemuel’s hearts like this hard object?
How does the spiritual condition of our hearts influence our ability to receive revelation?
Help students understand that the Lord reveals knowledge to us as we diligently seek Him. As part of this discussion, you may want to divide students in pairs and have them read the entry titled “Revelation” in the Bible Dictionary. Ask them to discuss the following question:
What can we do to prepare ourselves to receive revelation from the Lord?