Sunday School: Gospel Doctrine
Lesson 5: ‘Hearken to the Truth, and Give Heed unto It’

“Lesson 5: ‘Hearken to the Truth, and Give Heed unto It’” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual (1999), 20–24

“Lesson 5,” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 20–24

Lesson 5

“Hearken to the Truth, and Give Heed unto It”

1 Nephi 16–22


To inspire class members to follow Nephi’s example of faith and willing obedience.


  1. Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. 1 Nephi 16; 17:1–3. Lehi’s sons and Zoram marry Ishmael’s daughters. The Lord gives the people the Liahona, with which He guides them through the wilderness according to their faith and diligence. Nephi’s bow breaks, making it difficult to hunt for food. Everyone murmurs except Nephi, who makes a new bow, asks Lehi where to go for food, and brings food to the people.

    2. 1 Nephi 17:4–55; 18:1–4. Nephi demonstrates unwavering faith by obeying the Lord’s command to build a ship.

    3. 1 Nephi 18:5–25. Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and their wives join in rebellion on the ship. Laman and Lemuel bind Nephi, who demonstrates courage and gratitude despite this trial. The Lord sends a great tempest. Laman and Lemuel loose Nephi, who guides the ship to the promised land.

  2. Additional reading: Alma 37:38–46.

  3. Speak with three class members in advance, asking each of them to prepare to summarize one of the scripture accounts listed below. Ask them to report on the events described in the accounts rather than doctrine or personal application, which will be discussed in class after they give the reports.

    1. 1 Nephi 16:9–33

    2. 1 Nephi 17:4–55; 18:1–4

    3. 1 Nephi 18:5–22

  4. If the following materials are available, prepare to use them during the lesson:

    1. The pictures The Liahona (62041; Gospel Art Picture Kit 302) and Lehi and His People Arrive in the Promised Land (62045; Gospel Art Picture Kit 304).

    2. “I Will Prepare the Way,” an eight-minute segment of Book of Mormon Video Presentations (53911).

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Write the following statements on the chalkboard:

  • I don’t want to.

  • I’ll think about it.

  • I’ll try.

Ask a class member to read 1 Nephi 3:4.

  • What might have happened if Nephi had responded to the Lord’s commandment with one of these statements on the chalkboard? How did Nephi respond? (“I will.” See 1 Nephi 3:7.)

Erase the statements from the chalkboard, and write the statement I WILL in large letters. Explain that Nephi and his family were blessed as they traveled to the promised land because Nephi continued to have an “I will” attitude—he did not hesitate to obey the Lord’s commandments. This lesson shows how we can follow Nephi’s example of faith and willing obedience.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. The Lord guides the families of Lehi and Ishmael according to their faith and diligence.

If you are using the picture of Lehi finding the Liahona, display it now. Ask the assigned class member to summarize the events described in 1 Nephi 16:9–33. Then read and discuss selected verses from 1 Nephi 16; 17:1–3.

  • The “ball, or director” that the Lord gave Lehi was called “Liahona” (Alma 37:38). What were the purposes of the Liahona? (See 1 Nephi 16:10, 29.) What did the people need to do in order for the Liahona to work? (See 1 Nephi 16:28–29; Alma 37:40.) What were the consequences when the people were unfaithful and disobedient? (See Alma 37:41–42.)

  • What are some guides in our lives that, like the Liahona, work according to our faith and diligence? (Answers may include the scriptures, as explained in Alma 37:38–46; the Holy Ghost; patriarchal blessings; teachings of living prophets; and our conscience, as explained in the quotation below.) How have these guides helped you?

    President Spencer W. Kimball said:

    “The Lord gave to … every person, a conscience which tells him everytime he starts to go on the wrong path. He is always told if he is listening; but people can, of course, become so used to hearing the messages that they ignore them until finally they do not register anymore.

    “You must realize that you have something like the compass, like the Liahona, in your own system. Every child is given it. … If he ignores the Liahona that he has in his own makeup, he eventually may not have it whispering to him. … Our ship will not get on the wrong course … if we listen to the dictates of our own Liahona, which we call the conscience” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 117; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 79).

  • How did Laman and Lemuel react when Nephi broke his bow? (See 1 Nephi 16:18, 20.) How did Lehi react? (See 1 Nephi 16:20.) How did Nephi react? (See 1 Nephi 16:22–23.) What can we learn from Nephi’s response to this challenge that can help us when we face challenges? (Answers may include that we should trust in the Lord, work diligently to overcome the challenges, and avoid complaining against the Lord and His servants.)

  • After Nephi made a new bow, he asked Lehi where to go to obtain food (1 Nephi 16:23). How did Lehi respond to his son’s request? (See 1 Nephi 16:24–25.) What was the result of Lehi’s humbling himself and turning to the Lord? (See 1 Nephi 16:26–32.) What can we learn from the Lord’s dealings with Lehi in this instance? (Answers may include that the Lord will forgive and bless us when we humble ourselves and turn to Him.)

  • Speaking of the Liahona, Nephi observed that “by small means the Lord can bring about great things” (1 Nephi 16:29; see also Alma 37:6–7; D&C 64:33). In your life, how have you seen that this is true? How can the knowledge of this principle help us?

2. Nephi demonstrates unwavering faith by fulfilling the Lord’s command to build a ship.

Ask the assigned class member to summarize the events described in 1 Nephi 17:4–55; 18:1–4. Then read and discuss selected verses from those passages.

  • What can we learn from Nephi’s actions in response to the Lord’s command to build a ship? (See 1 Nephi 17:8–11, 16–19, 50–51; 18:1–3; see also James 2:17–18.)

    Elder L. Tom Perry said: “This is one of the more interesting stories we have in the scriptures because it tells of an instance in which the Lord provided help but then stepped aside to allow one of His sons to exercise his own initiative. I have sometimes wondered what would have happened if Nephi had asked the Lord for tools instead of a place to find the ore to make the tools. I doubt the Lord would have honored Nephi’s request. You see, the Lord knew that Nephi could make the tools, and it is seldom the Lord will do something for us that we can do for ourselves” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 87–88; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 64).

If you are using the video presentation “I Will Prepare the Way,” show it now. After you have shown it, discuss how the Lord prepared the way for Susan, the main character, to share the gospel. Help class members see that they, like Nephi and Susan, can find strength in the Lord’s promise: “I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments” (1 Nephi 17:13).

  • What was Laman and Lemuel’s reaction when they saw that Nephi was about to build a ship? (See 1 Nephi 17:17–22.) Nephi rebuked them by reminding them of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. How was the exodus of Lehi and his family similar to the exodus of Moses and the Israelites? (See 1 Nephi 17:23–44.)

  • Nephi told Laman and Lemuel that they “were past feeling, that [they] could not feel [the Lord’s] words” (1 Nephi 17:45). What does it mean to feel the words of the Lord? (See the quotation below.) What causes people to become “past feeling”? How can we prepare ourselves to feel the words of the Lord?

    Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “The Holy Ghost communicates with the spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It is not always easy to describe inspiration. The scriptures teach us that we may ‘feel’ the words of spiritual communication more than hear them, and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes (see 1 Nephi 17:45)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14).

  • What consequence do people face when they, like Laman and Lemuel, harden their hearts against the truth? (See 1 Nephi 17:46–47.)

  • Nephi urged his brothers not to murmur against their father (1 Nephi 17:49). How does murmuring affect our families? How can we overcome the practice of backbiting and speaking against family members?

  • Nephi continued to pray for guidance as he built the ship (1 Nephi 18:1–3). How did the Lord answer his prayers? (See 1 Nephi 18:1, 3–4.) Why is it important for us to seek the Lord often in prayer?

3. Laman and Lemuel bind Nephi, who shows courage and gratitude despite this trial. After they free him, he guides the ship to the promised land.

Ask the assigned class member to summarize the events described in 1 Nephi 18:5–22. Then read and discuss selected verses from 1 Nephi 18:5–25.

  • As they sailed toward the promised land, Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and their wives “began to make themselves merry” (1 Nephi 18:9). What was Nephi’s response to their actions? (See 1 Nephi 18:10.) What was wrong with this merrymaking? (See 1 Nephi 18:9. They forgot the Lord and acted with rudeness. You may want to contrast this verse with D&C 136:28.)

  • What was the only thing that would convince Laman and Lemuel to release Nephi? (See 1 Nephi 18:15–20.) Laman and Lemuel became more hard-hearted as they rebelled against the Lord, repented, and then continued to rebel (contrast 1 Nephi 18:20 with 1 Nephi 2:14; 7:19–21; 16:39; 18:4). What is the danger of returning to the same sin over and over again? (See D&C 82:7.)

  • How did the Lord bless the people after Laman and Lemuel repented and loosed Nephi? (See 1 Nephi 18:21–25. If you are using the picture of the people arriving in the promised land, display it now.)

  • As the people traveled through the wilderness and across the sea, what circumstances led many of them to murmur? (See 1 Nephi 16:18–20, 34–36; 17:21.) What was Nephi’s attitude during these difficult times? (See 1 Nephi 18:16. Emphasize that even when those around him complained against God, Nephi never wavered in his obedience and his love for the Lord.)


Point out that the last words written by Nephi in the Book of Mormon are a fitting description of his true character: “The Lord commanded me, and I must obey” (2 Nephi 33:15). Then share the following statement by Elder Heber J. Grant:

“No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1899, 18).

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or both of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Scripture search

Have class members scan 1 Nephi 16–18, looking for words that describe Nephi and words that describe Laman and Lemuel. List the words on the chalkboard, and use them to show the contrast between Nephi and his rebellious brothers.

2. Insights from 1 Nephi 19–22

  • One of the first things the Lord commanded Nephi to do after the families arrived in the promised land was to keep a record of the people (1 Nephi 19:1–4). Nephi said that he wrote “sacred things” for his people “that perhaps [he] might persuade them that they would remember the Lord their Redeemer” (1 Nephi 19:5, 18). What blessings will come to our posterity if we record sacred events in our lives?

  • According to Nephi, how would the world receive the Savior during His mortal ministry? (See 1 Nephi 19:7–10.) Why did the world reject Jesus as “a thing of naught”? (See 1 Nephi 19:9.) Why was Jesus willing to endure such persecution? (See 1 Nephi 19:9.)

  • According to Nephi, why would the Jews be “scourged by all people”? (See 1 Nephi 19:13–14.) What will happen when the Jews “no more turn aside their hearts” against Jesus? (See 1 Nephi 19:15–16.)

  • Nephi taught his brethren concerning “the prophets of old” and “the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old” (1 Nephi 19:21–22). How have you been blessed as you have studied the scriptures and learned of the prophets of old?

  • Why is it important to “liken all scriptures unto us”? (1 Nephi 19:23). How have you benefited from doing this?

1 Nephi 21–22 contains significant prophecies concerning the last days. You may want to review the following passages:

  1. 1 Nephi 21:22–23; 22:6–8. The Restoration of the gospel will bring scattered Israel together again.

  2. 1 Nephi 21:26; 22:10–12. The Lord will bring Israel “out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer.” (Note that the Book of Mormon plays a key role in “bringing about [the Lord’s] covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel.” Compare 1 Nephi 22:11–12 with the itle page of the Book of Mormon.)

  3. 1 Nephi 22:13–15. Nations that reject God will war against one another and be destroyed.

  4. 1 Nephi 22:16–19. The Lord will preserve the righteous.

  5. 1 Nephi 22:26. Satan will be bound during Christ’s millennial reign.