January 3, 2010

Jumpstart for 2010: Memorize the Word!

Happy New Year!

I abandoned the concept of "new year's resolutions" several years ago. I decided if I needed to make a change, I should make it immediately. The new year is a good time for personal review and reflection, and I continue to celebrate those things at this time.

I have, however, taken on a new year's challenge that will last for approximately sixteen days. Each day, I am committing to memory one verse of Psalm 91. By the middle of this month, I will have memorized the entire song.

Here it is:

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

As I was growing up in church, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School, scripture memorization was a big part of the Christian Education program for young people. We had a terrific Christian Ed. director, my father, who sought out age appropriate curricula for young people and brought these ideas into our church. I don't hear as much today about scripture memorization, but it's a good idea for everyone, for people of all ages.

There are more manuscript copies of the New Testament than of any other document from the ancient Western tradition. Scripture is as historically reliable as Plato, Aristotle, and Pliny. If you believe them, you can believe the New Testament. It is worth knowing and it is worth memorizing. There are fewer manuscript copies of the Old Testament, but those that exist are well-documented and reliable.

As I work my way through memorizing this song, I am spending snippets of time in reflection of God's goodness, graciousness, and love. Although I have only memorized a few verses at this early point in the month, the phrases and concepts of Psalm 91 return to me in quiet moments and in times of uncertainty. God's thoughts are drilling deeply into my consciousness. Memorizing the word--it's a good way to jump start 2010.


Christopher said...

You could not be more correct concerning Scripture memorization. As this discipline has died out in most circles, so has the age old discipline of Biblical Meditation.

deborah evans said...

Thanks for your comments!

I have wondered why Scripture memorization has faded away from many churches. Have we become too mentally lazy to memorize anything, do teachers and ed directors think memorization is too "low tech" to attract young people, or do we secretly fear the conviction the Holy Spirit may bring upon us as we pour the Word deeply into our hearts and minds?

I hope this little meditation will encourage more people to find a portion of scripture and memorize it.