In May of 1829, David Whitmer helped Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery move from Harmony, Pennsylvania to Fayette, New York to stay with his family. Oliver was a friend of David and had written to him about the translation of the Book of Mormon. David wanted to help.
“He proposed that we should have our board free of charge,” Joseph later wrote. “Upon our arrival, we found Mr. Whitmer’s family very anxious concerning the work, and very friendly towards ourselves. They continued so, boarded and lodged us according to proposal, and John Whitmer, in particular, assisted us very much in writing during the remainder of the work.” Joseph’s wife, Emma, arrived shortly after (“The Knight and Whitmer Families,” history.churchofjesuschrist.org).
The Whitmers had numerous spiritual experiences while the Smiths and Oliver were staying in their home:
- Joseph received revelations on behalf of David and two of his brothers, John, and Peter (Doctrine and Covenants 14, 15, 16).
- The angel Moroni showed David, together with Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, the gold plates containing the original text of the Book of Mormon (Doctrine and Covenants 17, Testimony of Three Witnesses).
- Four of David’s brothers—Christian, Jacob, John, and Peter—as well as his brother-in-law Hiram Page, were allowed to see and touch the plates shortly afterward (Testimony of Eight Witnesses).
- Mary Whitmer, David’s mother, also saw the plates (Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, Interview with David Whitmer, Sept. 7–8, 1878, ). (See also “Mary Whitmer, 12th witness to the Book of Mormon,” Deseret News, 18 July 2013).
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from these events:
- Different people can learn the same truths in different ways: Witnesses.
- God sends multiple witnesses to help us recognize truth: Who Were the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon?
- Multiple witnesses can strengthen one another. When other people can corroborate the things we know, we don’t have to feel “alone in the world:” Unto Three Shall They Be Shown – Ether 5:2-3.
- We can avoid being deceived by looking for multiple evidences of the information we receive instead of relying on a single source: “In the Mouth of Three Witnesses” – Ether 5:4.
- Witnesses share what they know, not what other people want to hear. They are not entertainers, and they are not salespeople: With Words of Soberness.