Does God Have Favorites? What We Learn From 1 Nephi 16–22


Editor’s Note: Tammy Uzelac Hall is the host of LDS Living’s newest podcast, “Sunday on Monday,” a weekly podcast focused on Come, Follow Me that dives into the hidden treasures of the gospel. Here are five questions readers might have in their studies of the Book of Mormon this week, accompanied by Hall's insights that add new meaning to the beloved verses.

Question: What do we know about the Liahona? (1 Nephi 16)


  • According to the scriptures, “Liahona” means “compass” (Alma 37:38). Some have also suggested that “Liahona” means something like “Jehovah is light."1Hugh Nibley breaks down the word and believes it may mean "To God is the guidance."2
  • The Liahona was compared to the word of Christ (Alma 37:43–45).
  • It was handed down from King Benjamin to Mosiah (Mosiah 1:16).
  • In Doctrine and Covenants 17:1, the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon were promised they would see the Liahona (“the miraculous directors”) along with the plates, breastplate, sword of Laban, and the Urim and Thummim. This is believed to have taken place on June 28, 1829, at approximately 11:00 a.m.3
  • The scripture says the Liahona was a brass ball with two spindles pointing the way that Lehi and his family should go (1 Nephi 16:10).
  • It is also described as “curious” (1 Nephi 16:10). While this word has had different meanings, the one I like the most is from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, “carefully made, detailed, intricate.”
  • The ball worked according to the faith and diligence of Lehi’s family. (1 Nephi 16:28–29, Alma 37:40)
  • It is interesting that Laman and Lemuel may have accused Nephi of making the Liahona (1 Nephi 16:38). After all, Nephi was the one who had skills with making things of steel, and Laman and Lemuel have a history of rejecting things that come from the Lord. And yet, Laman and Lemuel were so quick to forget the joy that they felt when the Liahona led Nephi to food. (1 Nephi 16:32).4

Question: What happened to the Liahona? And how can I get one? 😉

Answer: No one is sure what happened to the Liahona. There is no official documentation about what happened to it. However, something to consider is many prophets and apostles have told us that we have many “Liahonas” today, which will “point the way wither we should go” (1 Nephi 16:10). Here are the modern-day Liahonas we have been encouraged to use:

  • Patriarchal blessings5
  • Scriptures6
  • Holy Ghost7
  • Conscience/the Light of Christ8

Question: Does God have favorites? (1 Nephi 17:35)

Answer: In short, the answer is, yes. Now, favor is not the same thing as love. According to Lectures on Faith, “God is love.” He love all of His children. He is not capable of hate. Galatians teaches us that hatred is a physical (natural man) attribute (Galatians 5:20).

Favor, however, is not the same thing as love. There are many scripture references that tell us God has favorites, or that He favors those who keep the commandments. 

There is beauty found in the word “favor.” In both Greek and Hebrew, it is defined as grace with the idea being “disposed to, inclined or leaning towards to share benefit.” The Lord’s favor leans toward those who keep His commandments, to those who repent, and to those who are seeking Him. 
He is always leaning toward us with the full intention of letting us benefit from His sacrifice and because of this, we are His favorites. When you trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), you can see that you are His favorite. Does God have favorites? Yes, you. You’re God’s favorite. 

Question: 1 Nephi 20 is our first introduction to a chapter from Isaiah. What should we know about Isaiah before we study his words? 


  • Isaiah is the most Messianic prophet of the Old Testament—he saw, wrote, and prophesied of the Savior’s coming more than any other Old Testament prophet.9
  • Isaiah’s name translates as “Jehovah Saves” or “The Lord is Salvation.” 
  • Isaiah’s ministry took place between the years 740 B.C. and 700 B.C. He received his calling the year King Uzziah died (Isaiah 6, 2 Nephi 16:1). According to Isaiah 1:1, Isaiah served as a prophet for 40 years during the reign of several kings in Judah, including Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
  • Isaiah was married and according to one ancient Jewish source, his wife was a daughter of one of the kings of Judah, making Isaiah a member of the royal family by marriage.10
  • In Isaiah 8:3 (2 Nephi 18:3) Isaiah's wife is called a "prophetess," which suggests that that she too had the gift of revelation.
  • Isaiah and his wife had at least two sons who served as “signs to Israel,” as did Isaiah and his wife themselves: "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 8:18, 2 Nephi 18:18). In Isaiah 8 and 2 Nephi 18, Isaiah stood as a type or symbol of God the Father; the prophetess was a type of Mary, the mother of Christ; and one of their sons was a type of Jesus Christ.
  • According to Josephus, Isaiah was martyred for the faith.11

Question: Why Study Isaiah? 

Answer: Here are four great reasons for studying Isaiah:

Isaiah’s words are for everyone. The Savior said the words of Isaiah were for all the house of Israel as well as the Gentiles (see 3 Nephi 23:2).

You can gain greater faith in Jesus Christ. The prophet Nephi wrote that the words of Isaiah will “more fully persuade [you] to believe in the Lord [your] Redeemer” (1 Nephi 19:23).

You can gain greater hope. Nephi told his brothers to read Isaiah’s words “that [they] may have hope” (1 Nephi 19:24). In a world full of bad news and pessimism, this is a great promise.

The Savior commanded us to. No Old Testament prophet was quoted by the Savior more often than Isaiah. And during His visit to the Nephites, the Savior commanded them to “search [the words of Isaiah] diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). There could be no better endorsement.12

The "Sunday on Monday" study group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original presented by LDS Living. You can access the full study group discussion through the Bookshelf app. Listen to a segment of this week's episode below or you can listen to the full "Sunday on Monday" episode here.

[1] McConkie, Joseph F. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon. Vol. 3. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1988

[2] Nibley, Hugh, Teachings of the Book of Mormon Vol.1, Deseret Book, 1993

[3] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 152; JS History, vol. A-1, 26, in JSP, H1:324 [Draft 2]; Cannon, Journal, 27 Feb. 1884; Stevenson, Journal, 22 Dec. 1877.

[4] Welch, Jonh, Reexploring the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, 1992, p.44.

[5]Thomas S. Monson, “Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light," Ensign, Nov. 1986

[6] W. Rolfe Kerr, “The Words of Christ—Our Spiritual Liahona,” Ensign, May 2004

[7] David A. Bednar, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to be with Us,” Ensign, May 2006 & M. Russell Ballard, “That the Lost May Be Found,” Ensign, May 2012

[8] Spencer W. Kimball, “Our Own Liahona” Ensign Nov. 1976.

[9] Parry, Donald W., Jay A. Parry, and Tina M. Peterson. Understanding Isaiah. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1998, p2.

[10] Parry, Donald W., Jay A. Parry, and Tina M. Peterson. Understanding Isaiah. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1998, p2.

[11] Antiquities of the Jews, 10.3.1) King Manasseh, who took rule at the early age of twelve, reportedly put Isaiah in a hollow tree and had him sawed in half (Heb. 11:37 may be an allusion to this). (Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 4:279

[12] Ryan S. Gardner, How Can I Understand Isaiah? Ensign, March 2012

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