Scripture Memorization

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11

I have noticed something. I am rarely tempted to sin while I am holding or reading my Bible. The problem is, I don’t hold or read my Bible 24/7, thus I am very vulnerable to temptations for extended periods of time. How can I apply the Word of God during those times? By recalling what I have memorized.

Memorization of Scripture is a discipline. It is something that requires time and effort. It involves mental exercise (just the thought of which makes me tired sometimes). There are many things that can hinder us from learning Scripture if we allow them to do so.

Many would say, some legitimately so, that they cannot memorize Scripture because they have trouble remembering things. May I share with you a story I heard once about this? I think it may encourage you.

The story is told of young boy who lived in a house on a hill. Behind the house, at the bottom of the hill was a small creek. The boy’s father, a good Christian, often instructed his son to memorize portions of the Bible. Unfortunately, the boy had a learning disability that made if very difficult for him to retain information.

One day the boy cried out in frustration, “Dad, it’s no use! I can’t remember these verses. I have tried but it just doesn’t work”.

The man took his son out to the back porch of their house. He pointed to a bucket that was bent, dirty and even had a couple of holes in it. “Son,” he said, “Would you please take that bucket down to the creek, fill it with water and bring it back to me?”

The boy realized that the bucket had holes in it, but he obeyed his father. By the time he made it back up the hill, all the water had leaked out of the bucket. His father had him do it again, and again. Finally, the boy said, “Dad, it’s no use! This bucket has holes in it and won’t hold water.”

The man replied, “Yes, that’s true. But look how clean it is now.”

Even if we can’t remember every jot and tittle of God’s Word, it still has a cleansing effect on us. Let us get into the Word, but more importantly, let the Word get into us.


22 responses to “Scripture Memorization

  1. I dunno. Sounds like the dad was just a-lookin’ for how to get that ol’ bucket cleaned without havin’ to do it hisself!

    Seriously, though. I set as a goal this year to memorize the book of Colossians. It is my favorite book in the Bible. Do ya’ wanna know how far I’ve gotten so far?
    Well…if not skip the next line:

    Zero, zilch, nada, none of it, ain’t even begun yet.

    Why? You nailed it Gordon.
    just the thought of which makes me tired sometimes

    I love the book. But it’s a daunting task to commit it to memory.
    I once started to memorize the book of John. I got through chapter 3 and started going downhill spiritually.
    I thought, “What’s going on here?” The reason was because that was ALL I was doing. I stopped studying the things that would meet my needs. John is a great book. But I should have kept going to the scriptures I needed at the time.

    Memorizing scripture is awesome. But I gotta make sure I stay focused on my relationship with God, not just accomplishing a goal.

  2. What a great story, Gordon! I always loved memorizing verses in Sunday school when I was a kid.

  3. that is a tuff thing to do, Scripture Memorization,

    why is it that we(me) can Memorize somthing that don’t really mean anything , but we have a hard time Memorize, somthing that really good like this here?

    good post Gordon

  4. What an excellent illustration. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Okay so let’s say you can remember the words, even verse for verse most times but can’t commit book, chapter and verse to memory to save your life! ———-> me

  5. I dunno. Sounds like the dad was just a-lookin’ for how to get that ol’ bucket cleaned without havin’ to do it hisself!

    Danny, that thought occurred to me too when I heard that story! Great minds think alike, huh?

    Kelly, I wish more Sunday School classes would teach kids to do that today.

    Janice, I’ve noticed that, too.

    KC, I don’t know what to do about that, and I wish I did because I have exactly the same problem.

  6. Good illustration.

    I guess I have no excuses on this one, because I’m one of those with the “photographic memory” that everyone in school hated me for!

  7. Several of the commenters stole my point here — namely that memorization for the sake of memorization misses the point. I like your illustration, Gordon, because it shows that the goal is a changed life, not just the ability to quote verses.

    As the verse you typed (from memory?? hehe) at the start says, we hide God’s Word in our hearts so we will not sin.

    steve ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. We need to have the “Just Do It” mentality. At the same time, I agree with the others’ admonition that we’re not just doing it to say we’ve done it.

    One thing I’ve seen, as with other areas of spiritual growth, our enemy doesn’t want to see us committing God’s Word to our hearts. He will try to foil us at every turn; sometimes he succeeds too easily.

  9. that story so matches my brain.

    I can remember the most useless of jusnk but the Word of God I only seem to be able to paraphrase and then I can never tell with much accuracy where the verse is from so I cant check anyway.

    Read, read, read.

    It’ll stick there one day.

    Good post.


  10. It can be an easier discipline, if you improvise with study strategies and study tools. Make type-written flashcards, and since using the old typewriter is too tedious… I KNOW!! Then consider getting a pack of Averyยฎ laser friendly index cards from an office supply store or over the Internet for $18-24. The template is built into MSWord.

  11. Great minds think alike, huh?

    Yeah…and so do ours!

    It seems that a lot of us have a hard time remembering scripture, but most of us have no trouble remembering the “useless” stuff of this planet.

    I think songs come to mind.

    HEY!!! I know. Let’s put scripure into song form. Then we could remember it.

    Alright everyone. Join in:

    Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice.
    Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice.
    Rejoice, rejoice, again I say rejoice.

    Hmmm…looks like someone stole my idea before I had it.

    Perhaps we could do Romans 7 using Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire” tune.
    Woo Hoo!

    OK…the sillies have left me now. I just had to get that out of my system.

  12. Gordon,
    I would like to commit to memory all of Psalm 119.
    I like all of it, but verse 9 has great meaning to it.
    “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.”

  13. Yes, I definitely need to let more of the Word get into me. Thanks for a wonderful reminder…love the photo in your header here. Peaceful.


  14. If we fill our hearts MORE with the Word of God, there will be LESS room for the clutter of the world.

  15. How do you Memorize?

    i read it over and over, or write the verse over, but it don’t stick, how do you Memorize?

  16. Ok, Jel You asked for it. I have tried the other systems as well. They don’t work on someone with an active mind that “checks out” after only a coupla minutes. So…

    This is the “Danny Kaye” method of memorization:

    First, I need a good place for some serious pacing, either back and forth or in a circle. I make sure no one is home or at least that no one can hear me. I begin pacing at a pretty good clip. Then I begin my memorizing by reading a sentence. I try to say the sentence without reading it. If I make a mistake, I start the sentence over. After I have that sentence down, I move on the the next sentence. And then the next, and the next. And if I make a mistake trying to repeat any of the sentences, I have to try repeating it again, going back to the beginning.
    When I was memorizing John, I would often mess up in Chapter 2 or 3 and so would go all the way back to John 1:1 again! I have chapter 1 down!
    After I get toward the end of the whatever I am memorizing, I pretty much have the first half to three quarters down without even thinking.

    When I first became a Christian I took a First Principles class. It was nine weeks long and, among other things, we had to memorize 5 passages a week…and yes, there was a test every week.
    I used the above method to get 100% on every test…including punctuation! Now, almost 20 years later, I could probably still get around 85% just because I had them down so well.

    This may seem like a lot of work. But if you are like me and things just don’t “stick“, you just might give it a shot.

    Oh yeah…don’t tell anyone my secret.

  17. Thanks, your secret is safe with me! :0>

    can’t speak for the others ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Janice, each of us has a differing approach, I am sure. Danny’s is probably as good as any and better than most.

    I have an easier time memorizing Scripture if I am doing it for a particular purpose, (sermon preparation, witnessing, etc.) than if I am just doing so at random.

    I know some though who can read it one time and have it committed to memory. I wonder about those kind of people.

  19. I certianly have fallen behind here.

    I noticed I have memorized much more of the Word by listening to it.

    I load up the bible on my MP3 player and listen at work.

  20. Great post, Gordon. As I get older it gets harder to memorize. But then there’s another delimma…what version of the Bible are you using to memorize.

    We had a new convert at church that read the Bible every day, knew the scriptures and had a fruitful walk, but he beat himself up constantly because he had a hard time memorizing.

    After hearing him eloquently explain a particular chapter of Romans to another christian, I told him not to worry about memorizing…someday someone would make a translation using the words he had used in his explaination!

  21. I’m more up for getting the gist of the meaning of the scripture…rote doesn’t do it for me. Interestingly, when I have poured over scripture and have seen some of what the Lord has in it for me, I find that it is hidden inside, the meaning that is and it pops up at random moments in applications I had never thought of. i’m often surprised at how much I actually have a grasp on and I sometimes even remember where to find it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. What a great object lesson. I’m going to figure out how to do that with my kids.

    Gotta go find me a river….

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