On 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.
Polly Knight, the mother of Newel Knight, traveled with a group of Saints on the nearly 900-mile journey from Kirtland, Ohio, to Jackson County, Missouri. Sister Knight became gravely ill on the way to Missouri, but she would not agree to stop traveling, expressing that her greatest desire was to set foot on the land of Zion and to be buried there. Her son Newel recorded that at one point in their journey he “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” (Scraps of Biography: Tenth Book of the Faith-Promoting Series , 70; see also History of the Church, 1:199). Sister Knight died within two weeks of her arrival in Jackson County, Missouri (Zion).
On the day Polly Knight died, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 59. Imagine you had been asked to give a talk at Sister Knight’s funeral. Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:1–2, and find phrases you could share in your talk that might be meaningful to her friends and loved ones. In your scripture study journal, record at least two of those phrases and explain how they relate to Polly Knight.
Notice that in verse 1 the Lord addressed the revelation to the Saints who, like Polly Knight, had obeyed His commandment to come to the land of Zion with an eye single to His glory. You may wish to mark this phrase in your scriptures. To help you better understand what it means to have an eye single to God’s glory, try the following activity:
Close your hand into a loose fist (just enough so that your thumb and fingers begin to overlap). Close one eye, and look at the picture of the Savior on this page through the small opening created by your hand. Then open your other eye and look at the picture with both eyes. Notice everything else that is in your field of vision when you use both eyes. What is the difference when you look at the picture with only one eye?
Using what you learned in the activity as an analogy, what do you think it means to have an eye single to the glory of God?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:3–4, looking for both the temporal (earthly) and spiritual blessings promised to those who obey the Lord with an eye single to His glory. Notice that in verse 4 the Lord promises to bless his faithful Saints with “commandments not a few.” Why do you think the Lord would promise this blessing when some people do not consider commandments to be a blessing? Ponder how following the commandments has blessed your life.
Make two columns on a page in your scripture study journal. Label one column Temporal blessings and the other column Spiritual blessings. List the blessings you identified in Doctrine and Covenants 59:1–4 in the appropriate column.
In the margin of your scriptures, you may want to write the following principle: If we keep the commandments with an eye single to the glory of God, then we will be blessed both temporally and spiritually. Look for further examples of this principle as you continue to study Doctrine and Covenants 59.
The Lord continued this revelation by giving the Saints in Zion several commandments. Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:5, and mark the first commandment the Lord gave: We must love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do you think it means to love the Lord with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength?
What are some actions or attitudes you might see in people who love the Lord with all of their heart, might, mind, and strength?
Think about how this commandment to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength can influence the way we respond to all of God’s commandments. Share with a family member or friend a time when your love for the Lord influenced a decision that you made. You might want to ask the person you talk to how loving the Lord has influenced the way he or she responds to His commandments.
Doctrine and Covenants 59:6–8 includes additional commandments the Lord gave the Saints at this time. As you read these verses, ponder how keeping these commandments can allow us to demonstrate our love for the Lord.
In Doctrine and Covenants 59:6, the Lord referred to murder and stated that we should not “do anything like unto it.” How is abortion “like unto” murder? (See True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 4–5.)
The Lord gave a commandment that could help the Saints put God first in their lives and deepen their relationship with Him. Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–10, and identify the commandment the Lord emphasized in these verses.
In verse 9, the Lord promises a great blessing to those who keep the Sabbath day holy. Review verse 9, and identify the promise the Lord gave. It may be helpful to know that to be “unspotted from the world” refers to being clean from the sinfulness of the world. Using what this verse teaches, complete the following principle in your own words: If we , it will help us to .
Concerning this commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy, Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “Our observance or nonobservance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward his suffering in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of his atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us” (“The Sabbath Day,” Ensign, May 1975, 49).
How do you show the Lord your love for Him on the Sabbath day?
In your scripture study journal, share how keeping the Sabbath day holy has given you or can give you power to become clean and remain clean from the sinfulness of the world.
Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–15 helps us understand the purpose of the Sabbath and what we can do to keep it holy. Read verses 9–15 carefully, looking for insights into how we can keep the Sabbath day holy. For example, in verse 9 you might identify that to “go to the house of prayer” (go to church) is an important part of keeping the Sabbath holy. See what other insights you can discover as you study these verses. (It might be helpful to know that the phrase “pay thy devotions” in verse 10 means to worship or to demonstrate our love and loyalty. Also, footnote 12b explains that the word oblations refers to offerings of “time, talents, or means, in service of God and fellowman”; the word means generally refers to money or resources that are donated to the Church.)
In your scripture study journal, list at least six insights you discovered in Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–15 about keeping the Sabbath day holy. These could include what our actions or attitudes should be or the purposes of the Lord’s holy day. Once you have completed your list, ponder how keeping the Sabbath holy in one of these areas has affected your relationship with the Lord.
In Doctrine and Covenants 59:15–19, the Lord promises blessings to those who honor His holy day.
Write a personal goal of what you will do to help yourself keep the Sabbath day holy.
What are some ways God has blessed you recently? Which of your blessings do you feel most grateful for? Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:20–21, and identify how God feels about blessing us and how we should respond. What does it mean to you to know that God is pleased when He blesses you?
Doctrine and Covenants 59:21 teaches us that we offend God when we do not express our gratitude to Him and keep His commandments. The offense and wrath of God described in this verse is evidence of His love for us. He is displeased when we are ungrateful or disobedient because these attitudes distance us from Him.
Ponder the ways in which our relationship with God can be damaged when we do not thank Him for our blessings.
The Lord concluded this revelation by repeating His desire to bless us both in this life and in the life to come. Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:23–24, and identify how the Lord will bless those who keep His commandments.
Throughout the rest of the day today or tomorrow, ponder the many ways God has blessed you for keeping His commandments. Look for opportunities to demonstrate your love and gratitude to Him.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 59 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: