Doctrine and Covenants 59: Commandments for Zion and Stakes of Zion

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 69–70

Why do some people feel commandments are a burden, while others feel they are blessings? What is the purpose of God’s commands? How would your life be different without them? What would happen if a whole community kept the commandments of God? Would you like to live there? In what ways would it be different from the society in which you now live? As you readDoctrine and Covenants 59, think about how obedience to the laws and commandments in this revelation would help us bring about Zion.The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “God has given certain laws to the human family, which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit [His celestial] rest. This, then, we conclude, was the purpose of God in giving His laws to us: if not, why, or for what were they given? If the whole family of man were as well off without them as they might be with them, for what purpose or intent were they ever given?” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,54).

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 59

Consecrated(section heading)Dedicated 
Especially applicable to(section heading)Particularly meant for 
Contrite(v. 8)Repentant and teachable 
Sacraments(v. 9)Religious activities in which we demonstrate our commitment to the Lord 
Pay thy devotions(v. 10)Demonstrate your love and commitment 
Vows(v. 11)Sacred promises 
Oblations(v. 12)Offerings given to God 
Countenances(v. 15)Attitudes and appearances 
Raiment(vv. 17, 19)Clothing 
Enliven(v. 19)Cheer up, encourage 
Excess(v. 20)Overuse 
Extortion(v. 20)Misuse by force or use of power 
His wrath kindled(v. 21)His anger increased 

Doctrine and Covenants 59:1–2—The Death of Polly Knight

Doctrine and Covenants 59was received on the second Sunday the Prophet Joseph Smith was in Missouri. Before receiving this revelation, the Prophet attended the funeral of Polly Knight, and verses 1–2 m to be a direct reference to that event.

“Polly Knight’s health had been failing for some time, according to a statement made by her son, Newel. She was very ill during her journey from Kirtland to Missouri. ‘Yet,’ says her son, ‘she would not consent to stop traveling; her only, or her greatest desire was to set her feet upon the land of Zion, and to have her body interred in that land. I went on shore and bought lumber to make a coffin in case she should die before we arrived at our place of destination—so fast did she fail. But the Lord gave her the desire of her heart, and she lived to stand upon that land’ ” (inHistory of the Church,1:199, footnote).

Joseph Smith recorded: “On the 7th, I attended the funeral of Sister Polly Knight, the wife of Joseph Knight, Sen. This was the first death in the Church in this land, and I can say, a worthy member sleeps in Jesus till the resurrection” (History of the Church,1:199).

Doctrine and Covenants 59:6—“Nor Do Anything Like Unto It”

Prophets at different times have used the phrase “nor do anything like unto it” to refer to stealing, adultery, abortion, and killing. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that all forms of dishonesty are like unto stealing ( Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 7; orEnsign,Nov. 1976, 6). President Ezra Taft Benson taught that “petting, fornication, homosexuality, and any other form of immorality” are like unto adultery (in Conference Report, Apr. 1984, 8; orEnsign,May 1984, 8). Elder Boyd K. Packer taught that “except where the wicked crime of incest or rape was involved, or where competent medical authorities certify that the life of the mother is in jeopardy, or that a severely defective fetus cannot survive birth,” abortion is like unto killing (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 108; orEnsign,Nov. 1990, 85).

Doctrine and Covenants 59:8—“A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained: “To have a broken heart and a contrite spirit is to be broken down with deep sorrow for sin, to be humbly and thoroughly penitent, to have attained sincere and purposeful repentance” (Mormon Doctrine,161).

Doctrine and Covenants 59:15—“Not with Much Laughter”

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “I believe that it is necessary for the Saints to have amusement, but it must be of the proper kind. I do not believe the Lord intends and desires that we should pull a long face and look sanctimonious and hypocritical. I think he expects us to be happy and of a cheerful countenance, but he does not expect of us the indulgence in boisterous and unmly conduct and the king after the vain and foolish things which amuse and entertain the world” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1916, 70).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 59.

Activity A iconList and Describe the Blessings

  1. 1.

    List the blessings the Lord promised the righteous inDoctrine and Covenants 59:1–4, 23.

  2. 2.

    Think about what “their works shall follow them” (v. 2) means. Read alsoAlma 41:3–6, 10, 13–15and explain how that could be good news or bad news.

  3. 3.

    How can “commandments not a few” (v. 4) be a blessing to us?

Activity B iconMake Tablets for Our Day

Draw two tablets similar to the following in your notebook. Find the “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” phrases inDoctrine and Covenants 59:5–13and list them as commandments on the tablets. Add to the tablets what the Lord said in verses 18–21. You may want to put these “tablets” where you can them each day.

2 Tablets

Activity C Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–10

InDoctrine and Covenants 58:26–27, the Lord said that we should not need to be commanded what to do in every situation. The Lord teaches us the doctrines and principles and then expects us to “anxiously” strive to be true to those principles.Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–10outlines basic doctrine and principles related to keeping the Sabbath day holy but does not teach specifically what we should and should not do.

  1. 1.

    FromDoctrine and Covenants 59:9–10, list the important doctrines and principles we should obey to keep the Sabbath day holy.

  2. 2.

    Add to your list what is taught in verses 11–16.

  3. 3.

    Write about one thing you will start doing more and one thing you will start doing less (or stop completely) in order to more fully keep the Sabbath day holy.