Memorizing scripture has been a conviction of my heart from the Holy Spirit lately.
I don’t know about you, but these last few days since the brutal attack on Israel by Hamas on the morning of October 7, 2023, my heart has been heavy. The stories of what is happening in Israel are nothing short of horrific evil. I’ve tried to not spend too much time focused on the news and reports and much more time in prayer for the people caught in a living nightmare.
Since waking up that Saturday morning and seeing the news of the attacks the terrorists are waging against Israel, I’ve felt this conviction about memorizing Scripture. I’ve found myself going about my day, completing chores and tasks and then reminded again that the land of Jesus, the Promised Land, has become a war zone. A modern one; with bombs and rockets, guns and ammunition. And men who’ve ripped families apart.
And the Lord keeps echoing back to me this idea we see in Psalm 119, the idea of seeking the Lord and storing His Word in our hearts.
And when the Lord repeats himself, we’re wise to pay attention.
Here’s what Psalm 119 says about storing His Word in our hearts.
“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”Psalm 119:10-16 ESV
(Emphasis in bold added by Liz)
For context (which is always important), Psalm 119 is a long psalm, in fact it’s the longest one of all. The writer is unknown – some say David, but others say it was likely written long after David; after the Jews returned to Jerusalem following the 70 year exile in Babylon.
Of the 176 verses in Psalm 119, almost all point back to Scripture. The psalm is written in an acrostic pattern and has 22 different sections (one for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet), each section containing eight verses.
The section that verses 10 – 16 (listed above) come from is the section under “Bet” (“Beth” in English) representing the Hebrew letter “B.”
Over and over again (in all 22 sections) we see the writer of this psalm, through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, point the reader (or hearer) back to the importance of Scripture, of the delight he has in keeping God’s laws (statutes) and how much he (the writer) hates sinful ways.
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”Psalm 119:103 ESV
Again and again, as news of the atrocities happening in Israel have made their way to our side of the world through social media posts and news outlets, I have felt the Lord echoing the importance of remembering what His Word says.
I’ve long lamented my poor memorization skills. I really think I was better at it when I was younger. Maybe I was? Maybe you were too? Perhaps we had less stored in our personal super computers (brains) at the time?
There are some things I’m good at remembering. If I drive somewhere once, I can get back there again. Even if I’m a passenger in a car, I can likely get myself back to a place I’ve been driven. I watch for little details, storing them away in my brain for recall when I’ll need them later.
I even remember a few of the dances from my time as a cheerleader in college, 20+ years ago. My childhood home telephone number. Got it. My previous mailing addresses. Got ’em. All this useless information, tucked away in the recesses of my mind.
Often I’ve wondered, why is scripture memorization so hard for me? Is it a lack of effort? Maybe. A struggle to really focus? Perhaps. The multitude of other things fighting for my attention? Probably.
Maybe you’ve struggled with memorizing Scripture too? I feel like I hear this from lots of different women. Women who love Jesus. Women who intentionally and diligently study God’s Word, many of them daily.
So why is it so hard?
I think it’s so hard, because it’s so valuable. I think memorizing Scripture is a place the enemy fights us and we don’t even realize we’re in a battle. Satan knows the scriptures and he doesn’t want us to know them. He wants to disarm us by keeping us from being equipped with God’s holy and lasting words.
And this thought has taken form in my mind this week, what if I were abducted? What if I were taken off the street like so many people have been in Israel these past several days? Would I have God’s Word stored in my heart? In my mind, could I recall His promises? In the silence of my heart could I cry out words from the pages of scripture? Could I repeat those words, whispering in the ears of others held hostage with me? Could I give them comfort and share the peace that surpasses all understanding if I couldn’t look up the reference? If I didn’t have my Bible and my reading glasses on me? If I couldn’t click open an app on my phone?
Like the psalmist says, storing up the Word in our hearts helps to keep us from sinning. It also gives us opportunity to comfort others and ourselves, repeating God’s breathed-out-words. When we have His Holy Spirit within us, He is closer than our breath. And we can breathe out Scripture, life giving words, but it has to be there, planted with deep roots in our minds and hearts.
There are lots of ways to begin the process of memorizing scripture. There are apps you can use. I’ve been trying out the Bible Memory app which has you memorize the first letter of each word in a verse to help with memory recall.
If you don’t want to be on your phone (and I don’t blame you) there are lots of written tools you can try. Years ago I even created a small notebook that’s still available on Amazon called Remember the Word that helps you to remember a verse by choosing one each week and repeatedly writing it again and again.
No matter what process works for you, Bible memorization is something we as Christians need to be making an effort at. A solid, disciplined effort. It is a place of spiritual warfare and we need to be armed with the Word of God.
I hope you’ll join me in praying for Israel. Pray for peace within the region. Pray for the wounded and the those being held hostage. Pray that their hearts will be turned to Jesus and they will receive salvation, that only He can give.
And I hope that if you aren’t already, you will join me in a concerted effort to memorize passages of Scripture.
If you don’t know where to start, you could start with my favorite verse. You’ll find it in the Book of Jeremiah, in the Old Testament. It comes just after a frequently quoted verse (Jeremiah 29:11).
It is my favorite verse because it is a promise the Lord graciously fulfills again and again in my life.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
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