Doctrine and Covenants 21: We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet!

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 33–34

In obedience to the revelation the Prophet Joseph Smith had received regarding the day the Church should be organized (D&C 20heading and verse 1), all who were interested gathered at the Whitmer home on April 6, 1830. The state law at that time required that at least three persons, but not more than nine, participate in the organization of a new religious society. The six men who participated, although there were many other people present, were Joseph Smith Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel Smith, Peter Whitmer Jr., and David Whitmer.A brief outline of what occurred in the meeting is found in the section heading toDoctrine and Covenants 21. During the meeting, the Prophet received the revelation found inDoctrine and Covenants 21.In one of the well-known hymns of the Church, we sing, “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet” (Hymns, no. 19). Why are we thankful? Section 21 gives some great reasons for us to be thankful, along with some important counsel.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 21

Unanimous(scripture heading)All in agreement, no dissenting vote 
r(v. 1)One who can know of things past, present, and future (Mosiah 8:13–17;Moses 6:35–36) 
Disperse(v. 6)Scatter 
Behooveth me(v. 10)Is my desire 

Doctrine and Covenants 21:5–6—Blessings from Following the Prophet

President Harold B. Lee said:

Harold B. Lee

“We have some tight places to go before the Lord is through with this church and the world in this dispensation, which is the last dispensation, which shall usher in the coming of the Lord. The gospel was restored to prepare a people ready to receive him. The power of Satan will increase; we it in evidence on every hand. …

“Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet. … You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. …

“… Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over his church. He knows whom he wants to preside over this church, and he will make no mistake. …

“Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 152–53).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or B as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 21.

Activity A iconDescribe the Prophet’s Roles

Imagine that you are putting together a newspaper article on the Prophet Joseph Smith. Your editor has asked for a description of Joseph Smith’s roles in the Church. Using the five titles the Lord mentioned inDoctrine and Covenants 21:1as the headings, describe what each means and ways the Prophet filled that role. You may need to use the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide to help you define some of these terms. These same titles apply to the living prophet today.

Activity B iconWhy Follow the Prophet?

From the Lord’s counsel to the Church inDoctrine and Covenants 21:4–9, answer the following questions:

  1. 1.

    Which words of the prophet are we commanded to receive? (vv. 4–5).

  2. 2.

    List at least three places where you can find the words of a living prophet.

  3. 3.

    Why do you think it sometimes takes “patience and faith” (v. 5) to follow the prophet?

  4. 4.

    Give an example of a time when you, or someone you know or read about, followed a prophet’s teachings and received one of the blessings spoken of in verse 6.