Lesson 149: Doctrine and Covenants 136:19–42

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


In January 1847, Brigham Young received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 136 at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. This lesson discusses Doctrine and Covenants 136:19–42, which includes the Lord’s direction to the Saints on how to work together and receive His protection on their journey west.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 136:19–29

The Lord directs the Saints how to act on their journey

    Begin the lesson by asking the following questions:
  • What opportunities do you have to interact with other people in a group? (Answers might include families, priesthood quorums and Young Women classes, sports teams, school classes, and work crews.)

  • What are some positive aspects of working with others in a group?

Explain that when the Saints were forced to leave Nauvoo in early 1846 and began traveling west, many were unprepared for the journey. The Saints were initially spread out over many miles, which diminished their ability to help one another. In a revelation Brigham Young received at Winter Quarters about one year later, the Lord instructed the Saints to organize themselves so they could help one another as they continued their journey.

Invite students to review Doctrine and Covenants 136:2, 8–10 silently and report how the Lord instructed the Saints to help one another.

Point out that although working in groups allows us to help one another, it can also create challenges.

  • In your experience, what are some challenges of working in groups?

Divide students into pairs. Invite each partnership to read Doctrine and Covenants 136:19–27 together. Ask them to look for the Lord’s direction for the Saints as they traveled and worked together. After sufficient time, ask the class the following questions:

  • What direction did you see that would help the Saints travel and work together? Why do you think this direction would be necessary?

  • How can you apply this direction as you interact and work with other people?

  • What are the consequences when people disobey this counsel?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 136:23–24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along. You may need to explain why the Lord directed the Saints to “cease drunkenness” even after they had received the Word of Wisdom. Remind them that the Saints progressed gradually in their observance of the Word of Wisdom. When the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 136 was given, the Latter-day Saints were not prohibited from consuming all alcoholic drinks as we are today.

  • According to verse 24, what should our words do for those around us? (Students should identify the following truth: Our words should edify others. You may need to explain that to edify means to build someone up spiritually or emotionally.)

  • Why do you think it would be important for the Saints to use edifying words as they traveled together?

  • When have you seen someone use words that edify another person?

Invite students to consider what they can say that will edify those around them.

Invite two students to each read aloud one of the following accounts of Saints’ experiences on their journey. Ask the class to think about the character of these faithful Saints.

Mary Ann Weston Maughan wrote:

“We were called to bury two of our company who died this morning of cholera, a man named Brown and a child. There are more sick in camp. Have been in sight of the Platte River all day. Traveled 15 miles, camped on Salt Creek. Soon some of our company came up with another child dead. They buried it at twilight on the bank of the creek. There are more sick. It makes us feel sad thus to bury our friends by the way. Weather very hot” (Mary Ann Weston Maughan journal, 3 vols., June 21, 1850, 2:1, Family History Library, Salt Lake City; spelling, capitalization, and punctuation modernized).

Clarissa Young Spencer (Brigham Young’s daughter) wrote:

“One of Father’s most outstanding qualities as a leader was the manner in which he looked after the temporal and social welfare of his people along with guiding them in their spiritual needs. On the great trek across the plains when everyone but the most feeble walked the greater part of the way, the Saints would be gathered around the campfire for evening entertainment, if the weather was at all favorable. There songs would be sung, music played by the fiddlers, and the men and women would forget the weariness of walking fifteen miles or so over a trackless desert while they joined in dancing the quadrille. It was his way of keeping up ‘morale’ before such a word was ever coined” (with Mabel Harmer, One Who Was Valiant [1940], 162).

  • Based on these accounts, how would you describe these faithful pioneers?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 136:28–29 aloud.

Ask students what counsel is contained in these verses. After students report what they have found, write the following truths on the board: If we are happy, we should praise and thank Heavenly Father. If we are sorrowful, we should pray that our souls may be joyful.

  • How do you think these principles helped the Saints on their journey?

  • How might these principles help us today?

Ask students to think about times when Heavenly Father has answered their prayers by helping them be happy. Invite a few students to share their experiences.

Encourage students to praise and thank the Lord when they are happy and to pray for help when they are sorrowful.

Doctrine and Covenants 136:30–42

The Lord reassures the Saints and directs them to be diligent in keeping all His commandments

Remind students that the Saints had endured great trials and that they knew their continuing journey would also be a great challenge.

  • What do you think helped the Saints remain faithful even under such difficult circumstances?

Divide students into two groups. Invite the first group to read Doctrine and Covenants 136:30–33. Invite the second group to read Doctrine and Covenants 136:34–40. Ask both groups to look for principles that might have encouraged the Saints.

After sufficient time, ask students from each group to report. Write their answers on the board. Their answers may include the following principles and doctrines:

We should not fear our enemies, because they are in the Lord’s hands.

Our trials can prepare us to receive the glory God has for us.

If we humble ourselves and call upon God, then the Spirit will enlighten us.

If we are faithful in keeping all the words that the Lord has given us, we will one day behold His glory.

The Lord gives us His word through His prophets.

The Lord can deliver us from our enemies.

  • How do you think these principles helped the Saints remain faithful?

  • How can these principles help us remain faithful during our own difficult experiences?

Invite students to quickly review the principles on the board. Ask them to consider the overall message they think the Saints may have learned. Ask students to report their answers. Students may identify a variety of messages, but help them understand that the Lord was providing assurance to the Saints that things would work out.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 136:41–42 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for further reassurance and counsel from the Lord.

  • How might the Lord’s message in verse 41 have been reassuring to the Saints?

  • What can we learn from the Lord’s command recorded in verse 42? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we are diligent in keeping the Lord’s commandments, then the Lord’s judgments will not come upon us, our faith will be strong, and our enemies will not triumph over us.)

  • How might this principle have helped the Saints on their journey? How can it help us?

Explain that the Saints obeyed the Lord’s commands. The first group of pioneers left Winter Quarters on April 5, 1847. They traveled more than 1,000 miles and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in late July 1847. On July 24, 1847, President Brigham Young entered the valley and received confirmation that the Saints had found their new home. He was riding in the back of Wilford Woodruff’s wagon at the time because he was sick with a fever.

Invite a student to read aloud President Wilford Woodruff’s account of Brigham Young viewing the Salt Lake Valley:

President Wilford Woodruff

“When we came … into full view of the valley, I turned the side of my carriage around, open to the west, and President Young arose from his bed and took a survey of the country. While gazing upon the scene before us, he was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the valley before in vision, and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel. … When the vision had passed, he said, ‘It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff [2004], 146).

  • Why would it have been important for Brigham Young and the Saints to receive confirmation that the Salt Lake Valley was the right place to settle?

Conclude by inviting students to strive to keep all the commandments and listen for the Lord’s assurance in their lives.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

By this time in the course, students have studied all 25 scripture mastery passages in context. Consider giving students a few minutes to review the references and key words found on the seminary bookmark. You may want to invite students to quiz each other. Ask students to write as many scripture mastery references as they can from memory on a piece of paper. After sufficient time, read the key words aloud to help remind students of any passages they may have forgotten. Invite students to list the references they feel they need to remember better and to study them on their own. You might also give some time in class during the last weeks of the course for students to study and memorize the passages.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 136:24. “Cease drunkenness”

Some of the pioneer Saints used substances that are prohibited by the Word of Wisdom, such as alcohol and tobacco. The Lord did not initially give the Word of Wisdom to the Saints as a commandment (see D&C 89:2). President Joseph F. Smith explained:

“If [the Word of Wisdom] had been given as a commandment it would have brought every man, addicted to the use of these noxious things, under condemnation; so the Lord was merciful and gave them a chance to overcome, before He brought them under the law” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1913, 14).

With this in mind, we should be careful not to judge some of the early Church leaders and members who used substances that are prohibited in the Word of Wisdom. Throughout the early history of the Church, leaders invited the Saints to more fully live the Word of Wisdom. In a general conference in September 1851, Brigham Young called on members to formally covenant to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, whiskey, and “all things mentioned in the Word of Wisdom” (see “Minutes of the General Conference,” Millennial Star, Feb. 1, 1852, 35). In 1919, the First Presidency, under President Heber J. Grant, made the observance of the Word of Wisdom a requirement for receiving a temple recommend (see James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [1965–75], 5:163). The Word of Wisdom continues to be an important commandment today, and obeying it is a prerequisite for baptism, temple attendance, missionary service, and other worthy service in the Church.

Doctrine and Covenants 136:33. “My Spirit is sent forth … to enlighten the humble and contrite”

While President Brigham Young was at Winter Quarters, Joseph Smith appeared to him in a dream and said:

“Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the spirit of the Lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. …

“Tell the people to be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and follow it, and it will lead them just right” (in Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846–1847, comp. Elden J. Watson [1971], 529–30).

On another occasion, before the Saints left Nauvoo, the Prophet Joseph Smith appeared in a vision to President Young and showed him where to build a community in the Salt Lake Valley. President George A. Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve recounted:

“[He saw] a vision of Joseph Smith, who shewed him the mountain that we now call Ensign Peak, immediately north of Salt Lake City, and there was an ensign fell upon that peak, and Joseph said ‘Build under the point where the colors fall and you will prosper and have peace’” (“Historical Discourse,” Deseret News, Jun. 30, 1869, 248).