30 Days in the Bible, Day 18: Psalm 119:9-16
With all the access we have to information these days, we don’t often worry about memorizing material we come across. When my children ask my wife a question, she’ll tell them, “You have the knowledge of the universe in your pocket. Look it up!” With smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices, we can find almost anything we want to know pretty quickly.
I believe that technology can be a real blessing for learning the Bible. Having the Bible on my phone makes my devotional reading easier, since I can have it at my fingertips in seconds. However, we can take the ease with which we can access Scripture and use it as an excuse to not get the Word into our hearts and minds. While the Bible on a phone is convenient, it isn’t always there to help us fight temptation or to find a verse to comfort or challenge someone with whom we are talking.
Years ago, when I was a child (yes, a very long time ago indeed!), Bible memory was an important part of our Christian education. As I grew older, I went through the Navigators Topical Memory System (still a very good resource). To this day, I often recite verses in the venerable language of the King James Version that I memorized during those days.
I think several factors have led to the lack of emphasis on Bible memory. First is the gradual elimination of Sunday school and related programs for children in the church. This is where much of my memorization began. Second is the proliferation of Bible versions. When most churches used one version, we heard the Scriptures in the same way everywhere, and it often allowed us to memorize passages almost by osmosis. Third is the way that society in general has placed less emphasis on memorization, including in our education system. All of these create new challenges for getting the Word into our hearts.
The psalmist mentions his own practice of hiding God’s Word in his heart. Jesus used memorized Scriptures to resist the temptations Satan threw at Him. Paul cited the Old Testament constantly in his epistles. Throughout the Bible, we see the results of having the Word not just at our fingertips, but in minds and hearts.
Bible memorization is an important spiritual discipline, one which you will find helpful if you make the effort. Choose a good translation of the Bible, set up a list of verses to memorize, and just get started. I find it helpful to print business-card sized reminders, or write out the verses I’m learning on pocket-sized slips of paper. Whatever tools help you, start to get God’s Word into your heart, and see how it works out into your life.
[NOTE: The Navigators have provided a list of verses from their Topical Memory System on their web site for free. You can find that list here.]