Chapter 5: 1 Nephi 16–18

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“Chapter 5: 1 Nephi 16–18,” Book of Mormon Teacher Manual (2009), 18–20

“Chapter 5,” Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, 18–20

Chapter 5

1 Nephi 16–18


The Lord assisted Lehi’s family throughout their journey in the wilderness and across the ocean. As students study this account of the journey, they will find examples of great faith and tragic rebellion. They will see that God strengthened the righteous and softened the hearts of the wicked. You can help students understand that the challenges and blessings in their lives are similar to the challenges and blessings that Lehi’s family experienced. You can encourage them to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, righteous parents, and priesthood leaders.

Some Doctrines and Principles

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Nephi 16; 18:12–15, 21–22. The Lord Guides His Faithful Servants

Book of Mormon (religion 121-122) instructor's guide

Book of Mormon (religion 121-122) instructor's guide
Hold up a compass (or show an illustration of one).

Ask a student to explain briefly what a compass does. Have a student read 1 Nephi 16:10 and Alma 37:38.

  • In what ways was the Liahona like the compasses people use today? In what ways was the Liahona different from modern-day compasses?

Invite students to read 1 Nephi 16:10, 16, 28–29 and identify as many functions of the Liahona as they can. Encourage them to mark their findings in their scriptures. When they have examined the verses, ask them to share what they have found. Briefly list their ideas on the board. Their ideas may include the following:

1 Nephi 16:10

“One [spindle] pointed the way whither we should go.”

1 Nephi 16:16

“The ball … led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness.”

1 Nephi 16:28

“The pointers … did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.”

1 Nephi 16:29

The ball showed a “new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord.”

1 Nephi 16:29

The new writing “was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it.”

1 Nephi 16:30–31

The ball gave them directions so they could obtain food.

  • What are some guides in our lives that are like the Liahona?

Answers to this question may include the Holy Ghost (see the statement by Elder David A. Bednar on pages 34–35 in the student manual), the scriptures (see Alma 37:38–47), the teachings of living prophets, and patriarchal blessings. You may want to point out that the Church magazine called the Ensign in English is appropriately called the Liahona in most languages. In some ways it is like Lehi’s Liahona—its contents help us know the Lord’s will for us at this specific time.

As students mention guides that are like the Liahona, ask questions such as the following:

  • In what ways are these guides like the Liahona?

  • In what ways do these guides point the way we should go?

  • What might cause us to miss important messages from these guides?

  • The Liahona led the people “in the more fertile parts of the wilderness.” How might this apply in our lives?

  • Consider the last sentence in 1 Nephi 16:29. How are these guides “small means”? What are some “great things” that can happen because of these “small means”?

Invite one or two students to tell about a time when they were blessed as they followed one of these guides.

Book of Mormon (religion 121-122) instructor's guide
Invite the students to silently read 1 Nephi 16:15–32 and note differences between Nephi, Laman and Lemuel, and Lehi. You might suggest that they write their answers. After they have finished reading, guide a brief discussion about what they have read. Consider asking some or all of the following questions:

  • How did Laman and Lemuel respond when Nephi broke his bow? How did Lehi respond? How did Nephi respond?

  • Why do you think these men responded differently from one another?

  • What are your thoughts as you see that even Lehi murmured? What impresses you about the way Nephi approached his father after making a new bow?

  • In what ways did Nephi’s response to this trial influence his family? How have you been influenced when you have seen others respond faithfully to trials? How might your responses to trials influence those around you?

Book of Mormon (religion 121-122) instructor's guide
Share the statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on pages 35–36 in the student manual.

Explain that some trials come as a result of disobedience. However, the story of Nephi’s broken bow shows that many trials are simply part of mortality.

  • What experiences have you had that could be likened to the experience with Nephi’s broken bow?

  • How are we blessed when we respond to trials as Nephi did?

Ask students to think about different ways they have responded to trials. Then invite them to ponder the following questions without answering aloud:

  • In your responses to trials, have you ever been like Laman and Lemuel? like Lehi? like Nephi? If you have acted differently in different situations, why? What could you do to improve the way you respond to trials?

1 Nephi 17; 18:8–25. The Lord Blesses and Strengthens Those Who Keep His Commandments

Book of Mormon (religion 121-122) instructor's guide
Explain that in addition to guiding Lehi’s family with the Liahona, the Lord helped them in other ways. Write the following scripture passages on the board:

Divide the class into three groups. Have each group read one of the scripture passages, looking for ways in which the Lord showed forth His “tender mercies” (see 1 Nephi 1:20). Then invite them to share what they found. You may want to write students’ observations on the board.

Book of Mormon (religion 121-122) instructor's guide
In an effort to convince his brothers that God wanted the family to travel to the land of promise, Nephi compared their circumstances to the children of Israel who left Egypt and journeyed to a promised land. Invite the students to scan 1 Nephi 17:23–44 and identify how the children of Israel were similar to Lehi’s family.

  • How do you think Lehi’s family might have benefited from remembering the experience of the children of Israel?

  • In what ways do you benefit from learning about the journeys of Lehi’s family and the ancient Israelites?

To help students see that the Lord will protect and strengthen the righteous, invite one student to read 1 Nephi 17:48, 52–55 aloud. Ask the others to listen for ways God helped Nephi.

  • What eventually softened the hearts of Laman and Lemuel?

Have a student read 1 Nephi 18:16, 21.

  • In what ways can you follow Nephi’s example to receive the promised blessings of the Lord?

Explain that the scriptures often contain if-then statements. The Lord tells us that if we will do a certain thing, then He will bless us in a certain way.

Book of Mormon (religion 121-122) instructor's guide
Have the students read 1 Nephi 18:8–20 silently.

  • In what ways did Nephi suffer because of the disobedience of others?

  • How did everyone in the group eventually suffer because of the rebellion?

  • What can we learn from these examples?

Testify that disobedience always brings suffering, even though the suffering does not always come as immediately or as obviously as it did for Lehi’s family. As appropriate, invite students to share their thoughts on this subject. Share your testimony about the Lord blessing us as we obey His commands.

1 Nephi 17:7–11, 44–47; 18:1–4. We Must Prepare Ourselves to Follow the Promptings of the Spirit

Book of Mormon (religion 121-122) instructor's guide
If you have a cell phone, display it. Ask students if they have tried to use a cell phone in areas with poor reception. Such areas are sometimes called dead spots. Have the students read 1 Nephi 17:45 silently and think about what caused spiritual “dead spots” for Laman and Lemuel.

  • What do you think it means to be “past feeling”?

  • What choices had Laman and Lemuel made that had led them to become “past feeling”?

As part of this discussion, you may want to use the statements by President James E. Faust

DVD A icon
A, President Boyd K. Packer
DVD B icon
B, and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
DVD C icon
C on the companion DVD. Or you can have students read those statements on page 39 in the student manual. President Packer explains that we feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost more than we hear them. President Faust and Elder Wirthlin warn against attitudes and behaviors that lead us to experience spiritual “dead spots.”

  • According to President Faust and Elder Wirthlin, what are some attitudes and actions that can weaken our ability to recognize the Spirit?

Invite students to read 1 Nephi 17:7–11, looking for things Nephi did to enhance his ability to communicate with Heavenly Father.

  • What did Nephi do that helped him communicate with God? (Answers may include that he immediately obeyed the voice of the Lord, that he prayed in private, and that he worked hard in response to the answers to his prayers.)

Invite students to search 1 Nephi 18:1–4 and liken Nephi’s preparation to build the ship to their own preparation to meet challenges and trials.

  • The Lord showed Nephi how to build the ship “from time to time.” Why do you think it was helpful for Nephi to learn a little bit at a time rather than receiving everything all at once?

  • Why was it important for Nephi to follow the Lord’s instructions before the Lord would teach him more?

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 28:30 aloud. Ask students how the principles of this verse apply to the account of Nephi’s life that we are now studying. Emphasize that the Lord rarely gives us all the information at once. As we proceed in faith, He unveils truths to us little by little.

  • In what ways did Nephi demonstrate trust in the Lord?

  • What can we do to follow Nephi’s example and build a life that, like Nephi’s ship, is “exceedingly fine” in the eyes of the Lord?

Share your testimony about the guidance we can receive from the Holy Ghost. Encourage students to follow Nephi’s example as they communicate with Heavenly Father.