Psalm 119:11 “I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.”
The older I get the less I seem to be able to remember. Do you feel that way? I often forget appointments, which is why I keep them in my calendar and on my phone with alerts. I forget what I planned to cook for dinner until it’s too late and the chicken is frozen. I even have to think really hard to get my kid’s birthdays right some days.
However, play a song from the 70s, 80s, or 90s and I can likely sing every word without a problem. Trust me, when a Copacabana comes on by Barry Manilow, I can knock out every word with ease.
It's funny what our brain retains while it struggles to hold on to even the basics.
So here we are with our endless memory of song lyrics and a desire to remember what we read in our Bibles this morning. Even further, we have a desire to memorize Scripture. We see others do it effortlessly, and yet, we struggle.
Most of us have more memorized than we think, and I am not just talking about John 11:35.
There are times when a passage will come to mind, and we know it is only by the Holy Spirit. Maybe it is a verse we have read again and again. Maybe it is our favorite verse, but we should be in the regular practice of memorizing Scripture, and it doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems.
Psalm 119 is the perfect Psalm to teach us how to memorize Scripture. It is the longest Psalm and chapter in the entire Bible, and it’s devoted entirely to God’s Word and all its goodness. It gives us ten ways to make Scripture memory a part of our daily walk.
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1. Psalm 119:7
“I will praise you with an upright heart when I learn your righteous judgments.”
We do not memorize Scripture to simply check off a box; we learn the Word of God. I make it a point to learn verses that apply to where I am struggling. I don’t just memorize them because they sound good. I learn them because they change me. For example, I memorized verses on anxiety when my heart and mind were weighed down with anxious thoughts. I learned them so they could be constant reminders when the anxiety creeps in.
2. Psalm 119:9
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word.”
When we memorize Scripture, we let it seep into our lives. We live out what we learn, or as the old saying goes, “we practice what we preach.” I would go even further because Scripture memory is a personal task; “we practice what we preach to ourselves.” We keep the Word and live it out every day.
3. Psalm 119:10
“I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands.”
Memorizing Scripture is not just an action of the mind but should be an action of your whole heart. In this verse, the Hebrew word for heart means “inner self, inclination, disposition, courage, determination, will, intention, reason.” Memorizing with your whole heart and mind.
4. Psalm 119:15
“I will meditate on your precepts, and I will think about your ways.”
Think about what you are memorizing. Give thanks and praise for God’s Word. When you could be scrolling online, read and work on your passage instead. There are fantastic memory apps out there now to help you memorize Scripture; the Verses app is my personal favorite.
5. Psalm 119:30
“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set your ordinances before me.”
During the Pandemic in 2020, I printed verses out and put them all over my house, not just for myself but for my whole family. The Scriptures were constant reminders. This is a practice I have carried forward by writing out my verses on index cards and keeping them in front of me whenever I can. Place them on the mirror, in the car, on your phone, anywhere you are always looking.
"Teach me, Lord, the meaning of your statutes, and I will always keep them. Help me understand your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart.”
When we struggle to remember or memorize a passage, we can ask the Holy Spirit to do the work and teach our hearts. Scripture tells us in John that the Holy Spirit is our helper and will remind us of the Word and all of God’s truth.
“I will always obey Your instruction, forever and ever. I will walk freely in an open place because I study your precepts.”
Scripture memory shouldn’t just be learning the words but knowing what the words mean. Study the passage you are seeking to memorize and understand the text’s meaning and the passage’s context. All of these are important as we memorize because we may be memorizing the verse believing it means something that it actually does not.
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8. Psalm 119:60
“I hurried, not hesitating to keep your commands.”
Make Scripture memory a priority. It is a spiritual discipline that matters a great deal to our hearts and minds. Challenge yourself; whether you memorize a verse a week or a passage a month, make it a priority of your spiritual walk.
9. Psalm 119:73
“Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding so that I can learn your commands.”
We are created to know and love God. Thus, we are made to know and love his Word. We can trust him to equip us to learn, study, and memorize the Scriptures.
10. Psalm 119:93
“I will never forget your precepts, for you have given me life through them.”
When we come to Scripture with our whole heart, at the top of our priorities, with a desire to learn, it will change and transform our lives. The Word of God is alive and active, Hebrews says. It is not sitting still, but it is constantly breathing life into dead hearts and renewing the minds of God’s children. It quite literally gives us life.
We don’t have to complicate Scripture memory. We also do not have to let it overwhelm us, but instead, come at it from a place of worship, joy, and transformation. The best place to start is often right where you are, and in this case, that is Psalm 119. Pick a verse, maybe one from above, and commit to learning, studying, memorizing, and allowing it to transform your heart.
Originally published Thursday, 21 April 2022.