Lesson 113: Helaman 13

“Lesson 113: Helaman 13,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 113,” 2017 BoM Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 113

Helaman 13


A few years before the Savior’s birth, the Lord sent a Lamanite prophet named Samuel to preach repentance to the Nephites. He declared to the Nephites in Zarahemla the glad tidings of redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He also confronted them about their rejection of the prophets and their disposition to seek happiness in iniquity. He warned them of the destruction that would come to them if they did not repent.

Suggestions for Teaching

Helaman 13

Samuel warns the Nephites of their destruction if they do not repent

Before class, prepare the handouts of the three mini-lessons found later in this lesson. Also before class, copy the following outline of Helaman 13 on the board.

Helaman 13:1–4. The Lord calls Samuel the Lamanite to preach to the Nephites.

Helaman 13:5–16. Samuel warns the Nephites that they will be destroyed within 400 years if they do not repent.

Helaman 13:17–23. Samuel declares that because of the Nephites’ wickedness, the Lord will curse the land so the wicked will not be able to retain the riches they hide in the earth.

Helaman 13:24–39. Samuel warns the people of the consequences of rejecting the prophets and refusing to repent.

Samuel the Lamanite prophesies

Begin the lesson by displaying the picture Samuel the Lamanite on the Wall (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 81; see also Ask students if they know why the Nephites wanted to kill Samuel. After students respond, explain that Helaman 13–16 contains the account of the Lamanite prophet Samuel. This account is unique because for the only time in the Book of Mormon we learn of a Lamanite prophet calling the Nephites to repentance. During this time, the Lamanites were more righteous than the Nephites. Refer to the outline on the board to give students a brief overview of Helaman 13.

Tell students that today they are each going to have an opportunity to teach a segment of Helaman 13 to other students. Assign each student one of the following mini-lessons to study. (If possible, each mini-lesson should have an equal number of students assigned to study it.) Give each student a copy of his or her mini-lesson. Instruct students to prepare to teach their mini-lessons by silently reading through the instructions and scripture passages included in their mini-lessons. Explain that they will each have about five minutes to prepare and seven minutes to teach. (You may need to adapt these times to fit your class length.)

After students have had sufficient time to prepare, assign them to work in groups of three. If possible, each group should include one student who studied Helaman 13:1–7, one who studied Helaman 13:8–14, and one who studied Helaman 13:24–33. As each student teaches his or her mini-lesson to the other members of the group, you may want to occasionally inform students about the amount of time they have left to teach. Walk around the classroom and assist students as needed.

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Mini-Lesson 1. Helaman 13:1–7

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 113

Ask the following questions:

  • Why do you think some people do not listen to prophets?

  • What do you think people who reject prophets’ teachings fail to understand about prophets?

Invite a student to read Helaman 13:2 aloud. Ask the other students to follow along, looking for how the Nephites responded to Samuel the Lamanite.

  • How did the Nephites respond to Samuel the Lamanite?

Ask students to read Helaman 13:3 silently, looking for what happened after the Nephites cast Samuel out of Zarahemla and he decided to return to his land.

  • What happened after the Nephites cast Samuel out of Zarahemla?

  • What did God tell Samuel to do?

  • What truth can we learn from this account about the messages prophets speak? (Students may use different words, but help them identify the following truth: Prophets speak the messages God puts into their hearts. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures next to verse 3.)

  • How might understanding this truth affect the way in which a person responds to prophets’ messages?

Explain that when Samuel returned to Zarahemla, the Nephites would not allow him into the city, so he got onto the city wall and began preaching to them.

Invite a student to read Helaman 13:5–7 aloud, and invite the other students to follow along, looking for the message that God put into Samuel’s heart.

  • What message did God put into Samuel’s heart?

  • Why do you think it might have been difficult for Samuel to deliver this message?

  • When have you felt that a Church leader was inspired by God to give a message for you? How did it influence you?

Testify that the messages prophets give to us are from God. Invite your fellow students to follow the counsel God gives to them through His chosen servants.

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Mini-Lesson 2. Helaman 13:8–14

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 113

Invite a student to read Helaman 13:8 aloud. Ask the other students to follow along, looking for the warning that the Lord delivered to the Nephites through Samuel. Then ask the following questions:

  • What did the Lord say would happen if the Nephites did not repent?

  • What principle can we identify from this warning that applies to us today? (Help students identify the following principle: If we do not repent, then the Lord will withdraw the Holy Spirit from us. Invite students to consider marking the phrases in verse 8 that teach this truth.)

  • What are some of the blessings we may lose if we are not worthy to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost? (Students’ answers may include the following: direction from God; protection from physical and spiritual dangers; feelings of comfort, peace, and joy; spiritual confirmation of truth; and “[sanctification] from sin” and preparation “for exaltation in the celestial kingdom” [True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference (2004), 83].)

Invite students to read Helaman 13:11 silently, looking for what the Lord said would happen if the Nephites repented.

  • What did the Lord say would happen if the Nephites repented?

  • What truth can we learn from verse 11 about what happens when we repent? (Help students identify the following truth: If we repent and return unto the Lord, then we will be blessed.)

  • What are some of the blessings we can receive when we repent?

Invite students to read Helaman 13:13 silently, looking for a blessing that the Lord promised to the Nephites who would repent.

  • What did the Lord promise the Nephites who would repent? (He would spare them from the coming destruction.)

  • What are some of the negative consequences we can avoid in the future by repenting now?

Explain to the other students why you are grateful for repentance and why you feel it is important to repent immediately of the sins we commit. Encourage them to consider whether there are any changes they can make in their lives now that will allow them to enjoy the blessings of the Spirit to a greater degree.

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Mini-Lesson 3. Helaman 13:24–33

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 113

Invite a student to read Helaman 13:24–26 aloud. Ask the other students to follow along, looking for how the Nephites responded to the prophets whom the Lord sent to them. Then ask the following questions:

  • How did the Nephites respond to the prophets whom the Lord sent to them?

  • Why do you think some people become angry when a prophet encourages them to repent?

Invite a student to read Helaman 13:27–28 aloud. Ask the other students to follow along, looking for the teachings the Nephites wanted to hear.

  • What teachings did the Nephites want to hear?

  • Why might these kinds of teachings appeal to people?

  • What are some examples of similar teachings and attitudes in our day?

Invite a student to read Helaman 13:30–33 aloud. Ask the other students to follow along, looking for what the Nephites would experience if they rejected the words of the Lord’s prophets.

  • What principle can we learn from these verses about what will happen if we reject the words of the Lord’s prophets? (Help students identify the following principle: If we reject the words of the Lord’s prophets, we will experience regret and sorrow. Invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures near verses 30–33.)

  • How might rejecting a prophet’s counsel lead someone to experience regret and sorrow?

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994):

Benson, Ezra Taft

“How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” [Brigham Young University devotional, Feb. 26, 1980], 3–4,

Ask the following questions:

  • What counsel from prophets might be difficult for some people to follow today?

  • What is an example of prophetic counsel you have chosen to obey? How have you been blessed because you have followed this counsel?

Testify of the importance of following the prophets’ counsel even when it may be difficult to do so.

After students have had time to teach each other, invite a few of them to share with the entire class something they learned during the activity. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or study journals about one way they can improve in following the counsel of living prophets.

Summarize Helaman 13:34–39 by explaining that Samuel the Lamanite continued to describe the regret and sorrow the Nephites would someday experience if they procrastinated their repentance. He taught them that they could not be happy in doing iniquity and counseled them again to repent and be saved.

Encourage students to follow through on any impressions they have received from the Holy Ghost. Testify that happiness will come to those who heed the Lord’s invitation to repent.

Commentary and Background Information

Helaman 13:23–29. Following the living prophet

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of following living prophets and apostles:

Ballard, M. Russell

“My dear brothers and sisters, please pay attention to those things that the leaders of the Church have taught. … Apply the teachings that will help you and your family. Let all of us, regardless of our family circumstances, bring into our homes the teachings of the prophets and the apostles to strengthen our relationships with each other and with our Father in Heaven and with the Lord Jesus Christ. I promise you in the name of the Lord that if you will listen not just with your ears but also with your heart, the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth unto you of the messages delivered by [the President of the Church], his counselors, the Apostles, and other leaders of the Church. The Spirit will prompt you to know what you should do as individuals and as families in order to follow our counsel, that your testimonies might be strengthened and that you might have peace and joy” (M. Russell Ballard, “His Word Ye Shall Receive,” Ensign, May 2001, 67).

Helaman 13:38. Happiness cannot be found in doing iniquity

Samuel warned the Nephites that if they persisted in seeking happiness in doing iniquity, they would be destroyed. Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that happiness comes only through righteousness:

Scott, Richard G.

“Have you noticed how Satan works to capture the mind and emotions with flashing images, blaring music, and the stimulation of every physical sense to excess? He diligently strives to fill life with action, entertainment, and stimulation so that one cannot ponder the consequences of his tempting invitations. Think of it. Some are tempted to violate the most basic commandments of God because of seductive actions portrayed as acceptable. They are made to seem attractive, even desirable. There seems to be no serious consequence, rather apparent lasting joy and happiness. But recognize that those performances are controlled by scripts and actors. The outcome of decisions made is likewise manipulated to be whatever the producer wants.

“Life is not that way. Yes, moral agency allows you to choose what you will, but you cannot control the outcome of those choices. Unlike the false creations of man, our Father in Heaven determines the consequences of your choices. Obedience will yield happiness, while violation of His commandments will not” (Richard G. Scott, “How to Live Well amid Increasing Evil,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 102).

Helaman 13:38–39. “Everlastingly too late”

Helaman 13:38 records Samuel the Lamanite’s words regarding the Nephites who would live about 400 years later and would procrastinate their repentance until it was too late. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught:

Kimball, Spencer W.

“It is true that the great principle of repentance is always available, but for the wicked and rebellious there are serious reservations to this statement. For instance, sin is intensely habit-forming and sometimes moves men to the tragic point of no return. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness, and without forgiveness all the blessings of eternity hang in jeopardy. As the transgressor moves deeper and deeper in his sin, and the error is entrenched more deeply and the will to change is weakened, it becomes increasingly near-hopeless, and he skids down and down until either he does not want to climb back or he has lost the power to do so” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 117).

We learn from Helaman 13:39 that Samuel prayed that the Nephites who lived in his day “would repent and be saved.” There is hope for all who will choose to repent. Through repentance, we can receive the Lord’s forgiveness and prevent our hearts from becoming hardened. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught:

Uchtdorf, Dieter F.

“During my training to become an airline captain, I had to learn how to navigate an airplane over long distances. Flights over huge oceans, crossing extensive deserts, and connecting continents need careful planning to ensure a safe arrival at the planned destination. Some of these nonstop flights can last up to 14 hours and cover almost 9,000 miles.

“There is an important decision point during such long flights commonly known as the point of safe return. Up to this point the aircraft has enough fuel to turn around and return safely to the airport of departure. Having passed the point of safe return, the captain has lost this option and has to continue on. That is why this point is often referred to as the point of no return.

“… Satan wants us to think that when we have sinned we have gone past a ‘point of no return’—that it is too late to change our course. …

“… To make us lose hope, feel miserable like himself, and believe that we are beyond forgiveness, Satan might even misuse words from the scriptures that emphasize the justice of God, in order to imply that there is no mercy. …

“Christ came to save us. If we have taken a wrong course, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can give us the assurance that sin is not a point of no return. A safe return is possible if we will follow God’s plan for our salvation” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 99).