Jan15WedJanuary 15, 2020
Over the past two months, Janice and I have been using bedtime with our twins as an opportunity to teach them Psalm 23. We only add a line until they’ve gotten the previous lines down. It’s such a joy to hear them recite Scripture! Plus, they come up with really interesting questions and comments when they hear “shadow of death” or “head with oil!”
There are great reasons to memorize Scripture. Take Psalm 119:11 for example, “I have hidden my word in your heart that I might not sin against you.” Or Romans 12:2 which says “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you dicern what is the will of God.” In other words, memorizing helps us avoid sin and know God’s will! Those are two great reasons. So what kind of priority have you placed upon Scripture memorization in your life?
Since we have been focusing on memorizing Psalm 23 as a congregation on Sunday mornings, I’ve been asking FMCers how they learned to memorize Scripture in the past. Some have mentioned memorizing Scripture with their family members when they were young. Some have mentioned Scripture memorization through children’s songs. Many others have mentioned guidance from their Sunday School teachers. But overall, there have been two common themes. 1) Scripture memorization is hard (some say impossible) and 2) It usually happens in the context of community.
Even if you find it difficult to memorize Psalm 23 with us this winter, I encourage you not to give up. In fact, listen to the Lord’s advice about teaching (and memorizing). “Teach [my words] diligently to your children. Talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise…write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:7,9). Memorization comes by vocal repetition, with visual reminders, in the context of community. That’s how Jewish people used to memorize whole books of the Bible!
If you are struggling to capture all of Psalm 23 in your memory, perhaps try writing the passage down and putting it in your car, bathroom or desk. Keep it in front of you as much as possible. Quiz a friend on a line or two the next time you are together. Recite a line aloud during your mealtime. There can be many tricks to storing God’s word deep within us. But don’t give up! This precious Psalm is worth hiding in your heart. If you’ve forgotten the words, here they are in the English Standard Version.
PSALM 23 (ESV)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.