Historical Context and Background of D&C 108

Video Overview

Brief Synopsis by Steven C. Harper

Joseph Smith was studying his Hebrew lesson on December 26, 1835, when Lyman Sherman, who was serving in the new Quorum of the Seventy, came to his home. “I have been wrought upon to make known to you my feelings and desires,” Lyman told Joseph, “and was promised that I should have a revelation which should make known my duty.” Joseph received section 108 for Lyman that day.1

When Lyman said he was “wrought upon,” he meant that he was unsettled, even disturbed. “Let your soul be at rest” the Lord counsels him, and “wait patiently until the solemn assembly . . . of my servants.” Lyman waited patiently for the meetings in the House of the Lord. There he and others received sacred ordinances and blessings in 1836 (D&C 108:2, 4).

Joseph Smith taught that revelations were universally available to mankind directly, but also that there was order to revelation. Both principles are evident in section 108. The Lord revealed to Lyman personally that he should seek revelation through Joseph, presumably because Lyman’s role as a general authority and his invitation to the upcoming solemn assembly were matters to be revealed through Joseph Smith. In verse 1, the Lord forgave Lyman because he submissively acknowledged and followed the revealed order. He was a loyal, devoted Saint. In January 1839, the First Presidency called Lyman as an apostle, but he died before being ordained.2

1. “Journal, 1835–1836,” 89, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 24, 2020.

2. Lyndon W. Cook, “Lyman Sherman: Man of God, Would-be Apostle,” BYU Studies 19:1 (1979): 121–24.

Additional Context by Casey Paul Griffiths

From Doctrine and Covenants Minute

On December 26, 1835, Joseph Smith recorded in his journal, “Bro Lyman Sherman came in and requested to have the word of the Lord through me.”1 Lyman told Joseph, “I have been wrought upon to make known to you my feelings and desires and was promised that I should have a revelation which should make known my duty.”2 Sherman was baptized into the Church in January 1832 and participated in the march of Zion’s Camp. In February 1835 he was appointed as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.3 When Lyman was called to the Seventy, he was given a blessing that stated, “Your ministry shall be great and you shall proclaim to various nations. Your faith shall be unshaken and you shall be delivered from great afflictions.”4 According to his journal, Joseph Smith was studying Hebrew with Warren Parrish and Frederick G. Williams on the day after Christmas when Lyman stopped in and asked for a revelation.5

See “Historical Introduction,” Revelation, 26 December 1835 [D&C 108].

1. JS Journal, 1835–1836, p. 89, JSP.

2. JS Journal, 1835–1836, p. 89, JSP.

3. Lyman Royal Sherman, biography, JSP.

4. Minutes and Blessings, 28 February–1 March 1835, p. 67, JSP.

5. JS Journal, 1835–1836, p. 89, JSP.