The Value of Scripture Memorization
By N. A. Woychuk
Let us give attention to basic reasons for treasuring up the Scriptures.
First, we must memorize Scripture because God commands us to do so.
God spoke to His people on Mount Sinai out of the midst of the fire, and the people responded by saying, “Behold, the Lord our God hath showed us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire: We have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth” (Deut. 5:24).
The people perceived that the great and glorious God expresses Himself in
words that can be understood.
Immediately after that, God said, “And these words which I command thee
this day, shall be in thine heart” (Deut. 6:6).
God explained further that they were to put out the effort necessary to
have His words in their hearts: “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in
your heart and in your soul” (Deut. 11:18).
God specifically commands us to memorize His word so that we can have it
in our hearts. This is His will and
His plan for us. We cannot escape
it. We dare not say to Him, “I
don’t have time,” or “I just cannot memorize.”
The second reason why we must memorize Scripture is because we cannot
really “live” without it. In
Deuteronomy chapter 8, we are told how God deals with His people, how He
disciplines them, humbles them and lifts them up, that “He might make thee
know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out
of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deut. 8:3).
We can exist all right without His word, but without it we cannot
Since we have God’s word printed nicely in a book which we may carry
with us wherever we go, why is it necessary to go through all the effort of
memorizing it? As a matter of fact,
I remember how a distinguished preacher once boasted before a large audience
that he did not memorize Scripture. He
inappropriately compared Scripture to the train schedule, and said with a
self-assured satisfaction, “WHY should I memorize the train schedule when I
have it in my pocket?” We will readily concede that he was wise in not memorizing
the train schedule which is constantly subject to change. Furthermore, we are not told, “The train schedule have I
hid in my heart that I might not sin…”
The travel schedule we may need five minutes or so a week, but the word
of the living God is urgently needed 10,080 minutes a week, and having it in the
mind and heart makes it instantly accessible at all times.
Yes indeed, daily read the word of God, daily meditate
on it, and your spirit will be daily exposed to the heart and mind of God.
Still much more profit is gained from searching
and studying the Scriptures in some methodical way.
Martin Luther compared Bible
study to gathering apples. First shake the whole tree--read the whole Bible through just
as you would read any other book. Then
shake every limb, studying it book after book.
Then shake every branch--give attention to every chapter.
Then shake every twig by careful study of the paragraphs and sentences,
and you will be greatly rewarded if you will then look under every leaf, by
searching the meaning of each and every word.
In studying the word, we seek for truth not eloquence, we search after
profit not subtle arguments, and best of all we yearn to find the Person of
Christ on the sacred pages.
But the most effectual way of assimilating the word of God is by
memorizing it, so that it is not a transient occurrence, like a caller who stays
for an hour or so and continues on his journey; nay, this word of God is invited
to remain in us, to settle down in us, to make its home in the inner soul and
live in the deepest recesses of our being.
Why should I memorize Scripture?
Some years ago, the executive officer of a denomination with headquarters
in Indiana wrote me to ask concerning some details regarding Scripture
memorization. He stated that many
of their people were suggesting memorizing the Scriptures, and then in what
sounded like a distressing predicament, he said that his denomination had not
even developed a rationale for Bible memorization.
He proceeded to ask me if we had a rationale, and would I mind telling
him what it was, both from the Biblical, the educational, and the psychological
points of view.
The letter was somewhat unusual, but basically it was sad.
Here is a large group of presumably Christian people whose leading
officer does not seem to know the value and the basic reasons for memorizing
Scripture. Since then, however, I
have come to believe that perhaps the serious lack of that denomination was not
just an isolated case of the problem.
I prayed and considered the matter, and after a week or two I answered
briefly as follows, “At the risk of being simplistic, I can say that we do
indeed have a rationale for memorizing Scripture, and that it was established by
God Himself many, many years ago. Here
it is: (1) ‘Thy
word’--that’s the Biblical aspect of it.
It is God’s infallible, inerrant word that we are dealing with. (2)
‘Have I hid in my heart’--that’s
the educational or disciplinary part of it.
It takes real effort to store up the word of God in the mind and heart,
but it is exceedingly profitable. (3)
‘That I might not sin against Thee’--that’s
the psychological or spiritual aspect of it.”
I concluded the letter by saying, “‘Thy word’--that’s the best possession;
‘have I hid in my heart’--that’s the best place;
‘that I might not sin against Thee’--that’s the best purpose.”
We memorize the Scriptures because they are the living words from God.
We desire to have in our minds His words so that we may know at every
turn what His will is for our lives.
One reason why many people do not take the word of God seriously is
because they question the veracity of God, as Satan first did in Genesis 3:1:
“Hath God said?”
The Bible is a miracle book! It
came supernaturally through divine revelation (1Cor. 2:10).
God moved upon certain men called prophets and apostles in a special way,
and made His will and His words known unto them.
They wrote them down, “Not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but
which the Holy Spirit teacheth” (1 Cor 2:13).
Paul denies the notion that they put down God’s thoughts in their own
words, or in words suggested by human learning.
Peter confirms this fact when he said, “Holy men of God spake as they
were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21).
The Bible came to us from God.
The Bible is superior to all other writings.
Its excellence is infinitely superior, just as “the heavens are higher
than the earth” (Isa. 55:9). The
inspired writers themselves marvelled at its immeasureable greatness, “O Lord,
how great are Thy works! and Thy thoughts are very deep” (Ps. 92:5).
“Like a telescope, the Bible reaches beyond the stars and penetrates
the heights of heaven and the depths of hell.
Like a microscope, it discovers the minutest details of God’s plan and
purpose as well as the hidden secrets of the human heart” (L.S.
Therefore, as the very word of God, it works effectually when it is
personally received and appropriated as the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13).
The famous surgeon, Dr. Howard A.
Kelly, of Johns Hopkins fame, a staunch defender of the Bible as God’s
infallible word, described the practical reality of God’s word thus, “The
Bible appeals to me strongly as a physician, because it is such excellent
medicine; it has never failed to cure a single patient if only he took his
prescription honestly. It is in the
spiritual therapeutics just what we so long for in all our bodily ailments, a
Word Is Indispensable
God wants us to realize that His word is not only important
but that it is absolutely indispensable
in every sphere of life (Deut. 8:3).
God intends that the believer should live by the word daily and
momentarily. His hidden life is to
be sustained by it; his activities are to be guided by it.
In every circumstance the quickening word of God will be his comfort and
his consolation. Weighed down by
sorrow, losses and disillusionment with friends, Job found his solace and
sustenance in the word of God, of which he said, “I have esteemed the words of
His mouth more than my necessary food” (23:12).
God’s word is essential to keep
us from failure (Josh. 1:8). God’s
revelation is not just to be treated with high regard but it must be continually
in our hearts and upon our lips all through the day and through the night
seasons as well. The man whose
“delight is in the law of the Lord,” so that he “meditates” in it day
and night, “shall be like a tree”--growing and flourishing--“and
whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Ps. 1:2-3).
“Men,” said Calvin,
“never act skillfully, except insofar as they allow themselves to be ruled by
the word of God.”
God’s word is essential to keep
us from error (Matt. 22:29). The
Sadducees erred, Christ said, for two reasons: (1) They did not know the
Scriptures. (2) They seriously
underestimated the power of God. They
argued and philosophized brilliantly about the problems of life in heaven but
they were wrong because they did not perceive the meaning of the Old Testament
God’s word is essential to keep
us from sin (Ps. 119:11). The
discovering word is to be treasured up in our hearts so as to become a source of
power and life from within. Elsewhere
the Psalmist said, “The law of his God is in his heart, none of his steps
shall slide” (37:31). Every day
we have need of letting God’s word probe the deepest recesses of our being to
discover the hidden evil within, to search out every flaw and to restrain every
tendency to do wrong. “By them is
Thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Ps. 19:11). God’s word in the mind and the heart continually is the
most effective guard there is for our motives as well as our actions.
God’s word is essential to keep
us from stunted growth (1 Pet. 2:2). Where
there is no heart longing for the divine milk, there is at once spiritual
decline, which results in stunted spiritual growth.
The word, like milk, is nourishing food, and it is delightful to the
taste; by it we grow, and in it we taste the graciousness of God.
We live in a day when Bibles are accessible on every hand, but there is
throughout the whole earth, as Amos prophesied, “a famine of hearing the words
of the Lord” (8:11). Man does not seem to hear the blessed word of God addressing
itself to the depths of his life; he pursues his own way, restless, wandering
from sea to sea, craving some new thing, some new thrill, oblivious to the voice
from Heaven. How exceedingly
needful it is for man to accept the authority of God’s law, and submit to the
sovereign sway of the Holy Spirit in his life!
This is the invitation and pleading of God in that dramatic call of the
prophet Jeremiah, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!”
Used by permission from You Need To
Memorize Scripture, by N.A. Woychuk.
Scripture Memory Fellowship International can help you with a well-proved
system of memorization, with courses for all ages, beginning with infancy.
The enrollment fee for the courses is $13.00 for the preschool and $10.00
for the others. For information
Memory Fellowship International
P.O. Box 411551
St. Louis, MO 63141