The Apostle Peter taught: “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). One of the great blessings of continuing revelation is the help we receive in understanding the scriptures. Often the best insights into a passage of scripture come from another passage of scripture. Doctrine and Covenants 113 contains questions related to the writings of Isaiah, together with the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired answers to these questions.
One of the roles of a prophet is to interpret scripture. President J. Reuben Clark Jr., who was a counselor in the First Presidency, explained:
“Only the President of the Church, the Presiding High Priest, is sustained as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the Church, and he alone has the right to receive revelations for the Church, either new or amendatory, or to give authoritative interpretations of scriptures that shall be binding on the Church” (“When Are Church Leaders’ Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” Church News, July 31, 1954, 10).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 283–84.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 113. The Lord’s prophet can receive revelation to interpret scripture.
Have a student draw a tree on the board (make sure the student includes roots, a trunk, and branches). Label the tree as in the accompanying diagram. Have the class read Isaiah 11:1–5, 10 and try to determine what the roots, stem, and rod represent. After a few minutes of discussion, have them turn to Doctrine and Covenants 113:1–6 and identify the meaning of these three symbols. Ask:
Who is the stem (trunk) of Jesse? (see D&C 113:1–2).
Who might the rod (branch) represent? (see D&C 113:3–4).
What words in verse 4 could describe Joseph Smith?
Who might the root represent? (see D&C 113:5–6). (Note: Allow students to struggle a little with this question.)
According to verse 6, what “rightly belongs” to this person?
What purpose do the priesthood and the keys of the kingdom serve?
To help students understand who the root of Jesse is, share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
“Are we amiss in saying that the prophet … mentioned [in Isaiah 11:10] is Joseph Smith, to whom the priesthood came, who received the keys of the kingdom, and who raised the ensign for the gathering of the Lord’s people in our dispensation? And is he not also the ‘servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power’? (D&C 113:4–6.) Those whose ears are attuned to the whisperings of the Infinite will know the meaning of these things” (The Millennial Messiah, 339–40).
Have half the class silently read Isaiah 52:1; Doctrine and Covenants 113:7–8. Have the other half read Isaiah 52:2; Doctrine and Covenants 113:9–10. Invite each group to share what they learned. Have them give examples of how the Prophet’s explanations clarify Isaiah’s words. Ask: How could knowing this affect the way you listen to today’s prophet when he speaks?
Testify that the Lord has blessed us with a prophet who can help us understand the scriptures. Share President J. Reuben Clark Jr.’s statement in the introduction to section 113 above.