Why do we memorize Scripture? Why is it important to do so? What kind of difference can it make in our lives?
I memorize Scripture so that I can meditate on it. For me, repetition reinforces. In the repetition of the words of a verse, the words are pressed into my mind and into my thoughts. I have to work hard at memorizing. It takes time. I have to do it every day. I have to work on it throughout the day. Meditating on it, thinking about it, examining it over and over during the day or during the week, helps me to keep God close or rather, it keeps me close to God.
I am told that I don’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. I eat bread by placing it in my mouth, chewing on it, and then swallowing it. I eat the word of God by placing it in my mind through memorization, by chewing on it in the process of repeating it over and over, and then swallowing it by meditating on it. Meditation is absorbing the word of God into my being.
Why is it important? I tend to forget. My mind can only hold so many things in its front room consciousness at a time. For almost everything else in my life I have a process for writing it down or entering it into some kind of device. All these things help me recall what I am supposed to do or where I am supposed to be. They are organizers of my life. I am not built to carry all that information around in the quick access area of my brain. So of the very few things that I can carry in my ready access area, what is most important? The word of God or my shopping list? The precious promises of my Creator or my calendar of events? The very word of truth or the current ERA of the Red Sox? I memorize to remember. Though I have God’s word at ready access during the day on my electronic devices and though I still carry around my Bible in my satchel, I want a ready word in my mind, close to the surface, available for recall at any time. When I memorize the Word, I don’t have to turn on my phone or my iPad. I don’t even have to reach into my satchel and open my Bible. It is there, ready for me to recall. It’s ready for me, and through repetition I am more and more ready for it to change me.
None of us are perfect. We will still struggle with sin every day. I can only say that one of the benefits of memorization for me is that I am more aware of the struggle and more prepared for the fight against it when I memorize. Though all Scripture is breathed out by God and is good for my soul, I can do battle with particular issues in my life when I memorize God’s particular instructions or promises on those issues. I am not unarmed against temptations when I memorize Scripture. In a sense, it keeps the voice of God speaking in my ear. I hear His voice instead of my own. I hear His voice instead of the voice of the world. I hear Him speaking to me and not satan. I hear Him calling to me and not my flesh. I hear Him singing to me sweet words of comfort or strength, and I am revived and comforted.
How do I hope to be strengthened and encouraged by memorizing Psalm 19? The very purpose of the Psalm is to let me know that God reveals himself to me. He is revealed to me in the glory of His created world. My attention is drawn to the fact that God created the heavens above me, the sky above me proclaims it. They speak all the time, whether during the day or night. Every human being can look upon the creation and hear it speaking that God is glorious. Every human being can look upon the creation and know that a powerful God brought it into being.
But more than just this general knowledge about God that is revealed in his creation, Psalm 19 tells me that God makes him self known in his word. He speaks a specific word into my life through Scripture. There is no possibility of me misunderstanding him if I truly understand what Scripture says. He revives me, He makes me wise, He causes me to rejoice, He brings sight to my eyes. All this happens through His word.
To His Glory,