Memorizing Scripture - Psalm 23
As we approach our upcoming sermon series on Psalm 23, I would like to encourage us to memorize this Psalm together as a church. While the Bible never mentions Scripture memory outright, there are many passages that allude to this practice. In Psalm 1 we learn that blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord and who meditates on it day and night. In Psalm 119 we’re told that storing up God’s word in our hearts is a strategy to fight against sin. I can think of no better way to store up God’s word and meditate upon it than to commit it to memory.
There are various methods of memorizing passages of Scripture, but the one that I’ve found most helpful, and will present here, comes from Andrew Davis’ little book, An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture. Andrew recommends memorizing one verse per day which means that you could have all of Psalm 23 memorized in less than a week! The goal here is not speed (the Christian walk is a marathon, not a sprint) so feel free to amend this method to fit your schedule. For the purpose of this post, I’ll lay out what it would be like to memorize Psalm 23 in six days. Here’s how it works:
- Day One: Read Psalm 23:1 out loud ten times, looking closely at each word on the page. Next, cover up the verse so you can’t see it and recite it out loud ten times without looking. That’s it for day one!
- Day Two: Start by reciting yesterday’s verse (Psalm 23:1) ten times. Try to recite it from memory, but feel free to look if you need a refresh. Now, read Psalm 23:2 out loud ten times, looking closely at each word on the page. Then cover the page and recite it ten times. All done for day two!
- Day Three: Recite yesterday’s verse first (Psalm 23:2), saying it out loud ten times. Then, recite both verses together (Psalm 23:1-2) out loud one time. Next, read the new verse (Psalm 23:3) out loud ten times, looking closely at each word on the page. Now cover the page and recite it ten times. All done for day three!
At this point you should notice a pattern emerging. You start each day by reciting the previous day’s verse first, ten times. Then you recite all the previous verses one time, altogether. Finally, you read and memorize the current day’s verse ten times. Here’s what it should look like by day six:
- Day Six: Start by reciting yesterday’s verse first (Psalm 23:5), saying it out loud ten times. Then, recite all verses together (Psalm 23:1-5). Next, read the new verse (Psalm 23:6) out loud ten times, looking closely at each word on the page. Now cover the page and recite verse 6 from memory ten times.
And that’s it! If done with repetition and regularity, this method really works. Once you’ve completely memorized the passage, Davis recommends reciting the entire Psalm from memory for 100 consecutive days. This is where the work of long-term Scripture memorization is really done.
Here are some tips for making Scripture memory a part of your life:
- Incorporate it into your daily habits of Bible reading and prayer. The method as outlined above doesn’t have to take more than a couple of minutes each day. Consider memorizing before or after your morning quiet time.
- Memorize during family devotions. Each night before putting our little girl to bed, my wife and I read a short Bible story, pray, and sing a hymn together as a family. This is a great time to incorporate Scripture memory, and a great way to get your children actively reciting God’s word.
- Take it with you. The Trails is providing a great memory card to take Psalm 23 with you wherever you go (pick one up on Sunday). Also, consider updating your phone background to the Scripture text as a reminder every time you look at your phone.
- Keep going! Once you’ve recited Psalm 23 for 100 days straight, don’t stop there. Consider memorizing another Psalm, or maybe a longer passage of Scripture like Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, or maybe even commit to memorizing an entire book of the Bible. Using the method in his book, Andrew Davis has memorized over 40 entire books of the Bible (that’s right, books—not chapters)!
- Pray. Finally, ask the Lord for his help as you seek to commit his word to memory, and consider praying through Psalm 23 throughout your day.