On Sunday, August 7, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 59 while in Jackson County, Missouri. In this revelation the Lord set forth His expectations for the Saints who had recently arrived in Zion, including proper Sabbath day observance. The Lord also confirmed that those who keep His commandments will receive spiritual and temporal blessings.
Before class, write the following questions on the board:
At the beginning of class, write the name Polly Knight on the board. Ask students what they remember about her from the lesson on Doctrine and Covenants 57. If students need help remembering, invite a student to read the account about Polly Knight given in lesson 62.
What do you admire about Polly Knight?
Tell students that Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 59 on the day Polly died. Invite them to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:1–2 silently and find phrases that might have been meaningful to her friends and loved ones. Invite students to share what they discovered.
According to verse 1, who does this revelation apply to besides Polly Knight? (The Saints who obey God’s commandments with an eye single to His glory.) What do you think it means to have an eye single to God’s glory?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:3–4 aloud, and ask the class to look for the temporal and spiritual blessings promised to those who obey the Lord with an eye single to His glory. Ask them to report what they discovered.
In verse 4, what blessing does the Lord promise that some people might not think of as a blessing? (“Commandments not a few.”) In what ways are commandments a blessing to us? (As students respond to this question, you may want to suggest that they read Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21.)
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we keep the commandments with an eye single to the glory of God, then. …
Invite students to complete the statement using what they have learned from verses 1–4. One way students may express this principle is if we keep the commandments with an eye single to the glory of God, then we will be blessed both temporally and spiritually. Invite students to look for further examples of this principle as they continue to study this revelation.
Explain that the Lord continued this revelation by giving the Saints in Zion several commandments. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:5 aloud, and ask the class to identify a commandment the Lord gave the Saints.
According to this verse, what does the Lord expect of His Saints? (Students should identify the following doctrine: We must love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength.)
Divide the class into pairs. Assign each pair one of the words that describes how we should love the Lord (heart, might, mind, strength). Instruct students to use their assigned words to complete the questions you wrote on the board before class. Invite one student in each pair to respond to the first question and the other student to respond to the second question. After students have had sufficient time to discuss these questions as pairs, invite a few students to share their responses with the class.
To help students feel the truth and importance of the commandment to love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, invite them to respond to one of the following statements in their scripture study journals or class notebooks:
Describe a time when you have felt great love for the Lord.
Describe a time when your love for the Lord influenced a decision you made.
After sufficient time, invite a few students to share their responses. (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are sacred or private.)
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:6–8 silently and identify additional commandments the Lord gave the Saints at this time.
How do these commandments relate to the commandment to love the Lord with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength?
How does loving our neighbor show our love for the Lord?
Provide students with copies of the following statement by Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, or write it on the board before class begins. (This statement is found in “The Sabbath Day,” Ensign, May 1975, 49.)
Invite students to guess the words that are missing from this statement (“the Sabbath”). After they have shared their ideas, explain that in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 59, the Lord restated a commandment that could help the Saints put God first in their lives and deepen their relationship with Him. This is the commandment that Elder Petersen referred to. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–10 aloud, and ask students to identify the commandment the Lord gave to the Saints.
What commandment did the Lord give in these verses? (Keep the Sabbath day holy.)
Invite students to complete Elder Petersen’s statement with the words the Sabbath.
According to Elder Petersen, how does our observance of the Sabbath day relate to our love toward the Lord and His Atonement?
Point out that in verse 9, the Lord promised a great blessing to those who honor His holy day. Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we keep the Sabbath day holy, it will help us …
Ask students to review verse 9 and identify the promise the Lord gave with this commandment.
According to verse 9, how will we be blessed by keeping the Sabbath holy? What do you think it means to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world”?
Invite students to complete the statement on the board using their own words. The following is one way students may express this principle: If we keep the Sabbath day holy, it will help us to resist temptation and overcome sin. You may want to suggest that students write this principle in their scriptures.
Explain that verses 9–14 help us understand what it means to keep the Sabbath day holy. Assign each student one of the following verses: Doctrine and Covenants 59:9, 10, 12, and 13. Invite students to study their assigned verses silently, looking for insights into how we can keep the Sabbath day holy. Inform students that they will have an opportunity to share what they discover with the class. Before students begin to read their assigned verses, it might be helpful to explain that the phrase “pay thy devotions” in verse 10 means to worship or to demonstrate our love and loyalty. In addition, you may want to point out the footnote for the word oblations in verse 12.
After sufficient time, ask a student who studied verse 9 to read it aloud. Invite the students who studied this verse to share the insights they discovered about how we can keep the Sabbath day holy. Appoint one student to be a scribe and list these insights under the principle on the board. (For example, in verse 9 students might identify going to church, praying, and partaking of the sacrament as important parts of keeping the Sabbath day holy.) Invite students to repeat this process with each of the remaining verses.
How have your efforts to keep the Sabbath day holy helped you resist temptation and strengthened you spiritually?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:15 silently, looking for phrases that describe the attitude we should have regarding the Sabbath day. Ask students to share the phrases they identified and explain why approaching the Sabbath day with this attitude could help us to keep it holy.
Briefly summarize Doctrine and Covenants 59:16–19 by explaining that the Lord promised temporal and spiritual blessings to those who honor His holy day. Share how keeping the Sabbath day holy has influenced your relationship with the Lord. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals something they will do to help them keep the Sabbath day holy.
Ask students to imagine they are parents who give gifts to their children. Some of their children always express sincere gratitude each time a gift is given.
How does that make you feel as a parent? Would that influence your decision to give more gifts? Why?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:20–21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how God feels about blessing us and how we should respond to Him when we receive blessings.
How does God feel about blessing us? (It pleases Him.) According to verse 21, how might we offend God? (Students should identify the following principle: We offend God when we do not express our gratitude to Him and keep His commandments.)
Help students understand that the offense and wrath of God described in verse 21 are evidence of His love for us. He is displeased when we are ungrateful or disobedient because these attitudes distance us from Him.
Why do you think it hurts our relationship with God when we do not thank Him for blessings we receive from Him?
How does this truth relate to the principle identified earlier about keeping the Sabbath day holy?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:23–24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the blessings the Lord promises to those who keep His commandments.
In what ways has living according to the truths we have identified in this revelation brought peace to your life?
Conclude by inviting students to ponder the many ways God has blessed them for keeping His commandments and ways in which they can demonstrate their gratitude to Him.