D&C 59:1-24

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Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 59
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Historical setting[edit]

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For a brief overview of D&C 59 in historical relation to the rest of the Doctrine & Covenants, see Historical Overview of the Restoration Scriptures. For lengthier discussions of the historical setting, see Historical Context of the Doctrine & Covenants, chapter 8 or Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 9.


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  • D&C 59:5. The list of commandments beginning in this verse number seven (in terms of "thou shalt's"). These seven commandments appear at first to stand against the ten commandments of the Old Testament (although, upon close study of Ex 20:1ff, one finds that the commandments there might also be read as numbering seven). The seven-fold character of the commandments here culminates in the "thou shalt" of the sabbath day, the seventh commandment thereby presenting the seven-fold existence of the saints.
The ordering of commandments here also suggests a possibly interesting parallel between the first six days of creation. The first three days of creation seem to be follow an interesting parallel pattern by the next three days of creation (4th through 6th days). On the first and fourth day of creation, light and dark are the primary elements at work. On the first and fourth commandment listed here seem primarily related to love (love God with all thy heart vs. not committing adultery). Throughout the scriptures, God is described as both light and love, and the at-one-ment symbolized by the unity of husband and wife is a rich symbol for the central atoning message of the gospel with the purpose of saving mankind from eternal darkness.
On the second and fourth days of creation, air and water are the primary elements at work—heaven is created from the waters on the second day and the fowls and fishes are created on the fourth day. Similarly, the second and fourth commandment listed here are loving versus killing one's neighbor. This taking of life might be viewed as the meeting of body and spirit as air and water become the meeting place between God's light above and man's mortality on earth below.
On the third and sixth days of creation, the earth, grass and herbs and land-dwelling animals (including man and woman) are created. Likewise, the third and sixth commandments have to do with not stealing and showing gratitude for earthly possessions.
  • D&C 59:9. The seventh commandment here (of seven) is the "thou shalt" of the sabbath day. The point is interesting because of the clear tie between the position of seventh commandment and the significance of seven in the sabbath commandment. If Ex 20:1ff is read as a series of seven commandments rather than ten (as it might justifiably be--see commentary there), then the same connection seems to exist elsewhere. In short, the commandments themselves seem to be tied explicitly to seven days of the week, and the holiness of the sabbath seems to have something to do with the seven-fold holiness of the people maintained through obedience.
  • D&C 59:12-13. Keeping in mind D&C 59:10, where the Lord has instructed us that the Sabbath day is a day to rest from our "labors," these verses provide a useful distinction that gives a very useful legal definition of "labors." The Lord defines certain things that are to be done and then said that these are the only things to be done. Since "labors" constitute the things not to be done, this specification of the thing to be done effectively defines "labors" by defining what they are not. Perhaps some more definition is wanting, but to get an idea of what the Lord means by "labors" is an extremely useful tool for those who truly wish to keep the Sabbath day holy.
  • D&C 59:21: hand. This word points to the work of God, His activity in the world, His interruption of things by His ability to create, produce, etc. If this verse points at all to gratitude, it would seem that gratitude is a recognition of this interposition of the hand of God.
  • D&C 59:21. It is certainly significant that the question of confessing God's hand in all things comes before man's obedience. The verse seems to put an emphasis on confessing before acting, before doing. If this emphasis is justifiably read into this verse, then it might be said that foundational to obedience is the work of confession--not of sins but of God's omnipotence. If obedience is an issue of agency--of one's ability to fulfill, or not to fulfill, a commission from God--then agency itself seems to be grounded on a confession that God's hand is "in all things," that before man's "agency" is God's acting, moving, doing, accomplishing, creating, etc.
This verse, as the foregoing suggests, might thus be read as a powerful clarification of the "doctrine" of agency. This doctrine cannot be understood as a universal ability, an absolute freedom, a correlate of man's "co-eternality" with God. Agency is dependent primarily on man's subservient relation to God.
  • D&C 59:23. The Lord promises us that if we're faithful we'll receive "his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come." The phrase "his reward" indicates that the two items following (peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come) are two parts of the same reward. One possibility is that peace in this world comes after we receive an assurance that we will receive eternal life in the next. (On this point, see the related link about President Romney below.)

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • D&C 59:13-14. Why did the Lord not say simply joy or rejoicing instead of saying fasting and then indicate that joy or rejoicing is what He means in this context by fasting?
  • D&C 59:21. What does it mean to confess the Lord's hand in all things? Specifically what does it mean to confess the Lord's had in people's evil actions?
  • D&C 59:21. How do the last couple of verses about not using the earth to excess or by extortion affect how we read this verse?


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Previous editions.

  • The oldest surviving copy of D&C 59 is __.
  • D&C 59 was first published in __.
  • D&C 59 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants in the 18__ edition.
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Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 59.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

Other resources.

  • D&C 59:21. See Jacob J.'s musings on this verse at the New Cool Thang blog here.
  • D&C 59:23. President Marion G. Romney spoke about verse 23 in the 1949 October conference. He explains the different between the peace the world offers, and the peace the Savior offers. And he explains what it means to have your calling and election made sure. more


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