This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)
June 20-26, 2022
2 Samuel 5-7; 11-12; 1 Kings 3; 8; 11
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
The introductory verse this week is 2 Timothy 3:16, which is often used by Evangelical Christians. What does the word “scripture” mean for Latter-day Saints? I’m sure most would automatically think about the standard works of their faith. Here in this passage, though, it is referring to the Old Testament with a hint to the New Testament. (After all, Peter said that Paul’s writings–though difficult to understand–were “scripture” (2 Peter 3:16).) For Christians, then, the Bible can be relied upon, although many Latter-day Saints minimize the trustworthiness of the Bible by referencing Article 8, which says the Bible is true “as far as it is translated correctly.”
For more on Mormonism and scripture, see this article.
King David’s reign started out with so much promise. His undaunted faith in defeating Goliath was legendary. As king, he secured Jerusalem as his capital and united Israel (see 2 Samuel 5). The kingdom had never been stronger. And yet David gave in to temptation and lost his spiritual power.
I find it interesting that nothing is said about David’s sins: adultery and the murder of Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam. 11).
Murder: Regarding David, Joseph Smith taught:
A murderer, for instance, one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness. David sought repentance at the hand of God carefully with tears for the murder of Uriah, but he could only get it through hell: he got a promise that his soul should not be left in hell” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 339).
What exactly does it mean, “he could only get it through hell”? Hell really is not a doctrine in Mormonism. Does this mean David could qualify for the celestial kingdom in the end? It’s not clear.
Regardless of how we are supposed to interpret Smith, this is how 12th President Spencer W. Kimball explained it:
The Prophet Joseph Smith underlined the seriousness of the sin of murder for David as for all men, and the fact that there is no forgiveness for it (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 128).
And how do we interpret this citation by Smith, which seems to be in line with Kimball’s interpretation?
Remission of sins by baptism was not to be preached to murderers. All the priests of Christendom might pray for a murderer on the scaffold forever, but could not avail so much as a gnat towards their forgiveness. There is no forgiveness for murderers (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 221).
Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith said that murderers could not be forgiven by God:
John says there are two kinds of sins. One kind that can be forgiven; the other kind a sin unto death, for which there is no forgiveness. Murder is one of the latter class (The Restoration of All Things, 1964, 204).
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie described the severity of murder:
Although David was a king, he never did obtain the spirit and power of Elijah and the fullness of the priesthood; and the priesthood that he received, and the throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage.” (Teachings, p. 339.) Thus, even though a man’s calling and election has been made sure, if he then commits murder, all of the promises are of no effect, and he goes to a telestial kingdom (Rev. 21:8; D. & C. 76:103), because when he was sealed up unto eternal life, it was with a reservation. The sealing was not to apply in the case of murder (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 3:347).
This is not just a teaching of “dead” leaders, as Dallin H. Oaks, the first counselor in the First Presidency, said,
A deliberate murder is what the scriptures call “a sin unto death.” (1 Jn. 5:16.) It deprives the murderer of eternal life (1 Jn. 3:15) because there is “no forgiveness” for this act (D&C 42:79). In other words, a person who deliberately kills another shall die spiritually (The Lord’s Way, 213).
Adultery: Leaders have taught that adultery is second in severity only to murder. Joseph Fielding Smith said that such a person should not be allowed to return to the church “at least until years have elapsed” (Doctrines of Salvation 2:94).
It seems strange that the Come, Follow Me curriculum doesn’t take a closer look at this issue and discuss the severity of David’s sin. If a person didn’t know better, it would be possible to miss the fact that what he did seems practically unforgivable in the eyes of Mormon leaders.
The reign of David’s son Solomon likewise started out with so much promise. His divinely received wisdom and discernment were legendary. As king, he extended Israel’s borders and built a magnificent temple to the Lord. The kingdom had never been stronger. And yet Solomon foolishly allowed his heart to be turned away to other gods.
What can we learn from these tragic stories? Perhaps one lesson is that regardless of our past experiences, our spiritual strength depends on the choices we make today. We can also see in these accounts that it isn’t our own strength or courage or wisdom that will save us—it is the Lord’s. These stories show us that Israel’s true hope—and ours—is not in David, Solomon, or any other mortal king, but in another “son of David”: Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1), the Eternal King who will “forgive the sin of [His] people” if we “turn again to [Him]” (1 Kings 8:33–34).
I would agree that our true hope is not in men but in Jesus. But when it says He will “‘forgive the sin of [His] people’ if we ‘turn again to [Him],” what does that mean? We’ve talked about this in previous lessons, but full obedience is required in Mormonism to gain forgiveness of sins. Both LDS scripture and the leaders teach this to be true.
For proof, visit Crash Course Mormonism: Obedience.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
2 Samuel 5:17–25
The Lord can give me direction.
Once David was able to unite Israel (see 2 Samuel 5:1–5), he had to defend his people from the Philistines. As you read 2 Samuel 5:17–25, consider how David’s example can help you in the challenges you face (see also 1 Samuel 23:2, 10–11; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1). How are you seeking the Lord’s direction in your life? How are you being blessed by acting on the revelation you receive?
This paragraph is fine, but that last sentence/question is problematic. “How are you being blessed by acting on the revelation you receive?” Of course, Mormonism teaches a member can get “personal revelation” as long as that “revelation” coincides with the teachings of the LDS Church leaders. For Christians, there are two types of “revelation”: “General,” which is an acknowledgement through the creation of the world, morality, etc. that there is a God (see Psalm 19:1-6; Rom. 1:18); and “Special,” which is available through the Bible.
As sinful humans, we can never depend on ourselves for “revelation” because our hearts are completely wicked (Jer. 17:9). We also do not need “prophets” and “apostles” from the “restored church” to direct us on how we are supposed to live. Instead, we need to rely completely on the Word of God as revealed in the Bible.
2 Samuel 7
What is the “house” the Lord promised to David?
When David offered to build a house, meaning a temple, for the Lord (see 2 Samuel 7:1–3), the Lord responded that in fact David’s son would build it (see verses 12–15; see also 1 Chronicles 17:1–15). The Lord also said that He in turn would build David a “house,” meaning a posterity, and that his throne would last forever (see 2 Samuel 7:11, 16, 25–29; Psalm 89:3–4, 35–37). This promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our Eternal King, who was a descendant of David (see Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:32–33; John 18:33–37).
I agree. Sometimes the writers of this curriculum do get it right.
2 Samuel 11; 12:1–14
I should always be on guard against sin.
David’s faithfulness to the Lord in the past did not make him immune to temptation when he “walked upon the roof of the king’s house” and “saw a woman washing herself” (2 Samuel 11:2). Consider what lessons you can learn from his experiences. Questions like these might help you study this account:
What choices did David make that led him down an increasingly sinful path? What righteous choices could he have made instead?
How might the adversary be trying to lead you down sinful paths in your own life? What choices could you make now to return to safety?
As talked about above, the authors do not delve into the seriousness of David’s sins or discuss what the church currently teaches about murder and adultery. I suppose silence is the safer route.
1 Kings 8:12–61
The temple is the house of the Lord.
For hundreds of years, God’s presence was represented by the portable tabernacle that Moses built. Although David had wanted to build God a more permanent dwelling place, God instead chose David’s son Solomon to build the temple of the Lord. As you read Solomon’s prayer and the words he spoke to his people upon completing the temple, notice how he felt about the Lord and His house. You could also make a list of the blessings Solomon asked for in his prayer. What do you notice about these blessings? How are you blessed by the Lord’s house in our day?
Any time the authors of this series have a chance to promote its particular doctrine, it does. And here is a classic example as signaled by the last question. The temples of Mormonism have absolutely nothing to do with Solomon’s temple.
For more information on the temple, see Crash Course Mormonism: Temples.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
1 Kings 11:9-11
What are some “other gods” (verse 10) that could turn our hearts away from the Lord? How can we keep our hearts centered on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
When it comes to the “God” of Mormonism vs. the God of the Bible, there is no doubt that these are not the same being who is worshiped.
In my new book titled Introducing Christianity to Mormons, I provide some charts that contrast the two versions:
|God is one in essence and is the only God who exists. This is called monotheism (mono = one, theism = belief in God).||Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Timothy 2:5||Three separate gods (Father/Son/Spirit) who “are one in will, purpose, and love.”[i] Tri-theism, not monotheism.||Mormons assume that the biblical verses referring to “one God” mean “one in purpose,” not “one in essence.”|
|God is spirit.||John 1:18; 4:24; Romans 8:2,14; 2 Corinthians 3:17||God has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.||D&C 130:22|
|God is omnipresent and is not limited by spatial restraints.||Psalm 139:7-12; Proverbs 15:3; Isaiah 66:1; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Amos 9:2-3||God’s body is localized in space and is not bodily omnipresent.||D&C 88:6,7,13|
|God originated everything out of nothing (Latin: creatio ex nihilo).||Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 37:16; 45:7,18; 66:2; Job 33:4; John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17||God organized the universe out of pre-existing material (Latin: creatio ex materia).||Book of Abraham 4:1; Joseph Smith’s King Follett discourse in 1844|
|God is the only true God in the universe; all other “gods” are false.||Deuteronomy 4:35; 1 Kings 8:60; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-9; 45:22||Multiple true gods existed before Elohim (God the Father) and there will be gods who will follow Him.||Book of Abraham chapters 4 and 5|
|God is omnipotent (all powerful) to do all things logically possible, although there are some things He cannot do, including sin or lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).||Genesis 1:1; 18:14; Job 42:2; Isaiah 40:28; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37; 1 Corinthians 6:14||While He has power over everything, God is limited because He is subject to eternal “natural law.” God organized the elements already in existence but He was unable to create out of nothing.||Book of Abraham 3:22 and 4:1 refer to multiple true gods who collaborated on the creation of the universe. Elements, intelligence, and law are coeternal with God (D&C 88:34-40; 93:29,33,35).|
[i] See news-ca.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/mormonism-101-faq.
For more information about the differences between the God of Mormonism and the God of Christianity, visit Crash Course Mormonism: God.
Perhaps most significant about this chapter is not so much that was said but what wasn’t said. Over the years, the topic of David and his sins of murder and adultery have been discussed by leaders. Was it possible for him to be forgiven? Or not? I found it interesting that this topic was never broached in this lesson. In fact, it did not feel like David’s sins were taken as seriously as they should. I think the issue should have been at least discussed and that the current members could know if it is possible to be forgiven for sins such as murder and adultery.