MEDITATE ON THE WORD DAY & NIGHT3
Charles Haddon Spurgeon comments on "He hath said" in (Heb 13:5-note) with some words to encourage saints to memorize God's word so that "the word of Christ (would) richly dwell within" (Col 3:16-note)
"If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of God's covenant? Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without; will not the trials from above, and the temptations from beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of "He hath said"? Yes; whether for delight in our quietude, or for strength in our conflict, "He hath said" must be our daily resort.
And this may teach us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what "He hath said."
Should you not, besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty, or overthrow a doubt? Since "He hath said" is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you richly, as "A well of water, springing up unto everlasting life." So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life."
Spurgeon comments on Ps 119:9
"Let each person, young or old, who desires to be holy have a holy watchfulness in his heart, and keep the Holy Bible before his open eye. There he will find every turn of the road marked down, every slough and miry place pointed out, with the way to go through unsoiled; and there, too, he will find light for his darkness, comfort for his weariness, and company for his loneliness, so that by its help he will reach the benediction of the first verse of the psalm, which suggested the psalmist’s inquiry, and awakened his desires." (see Spurgeon's note)
James Montgomery Boice wrote that...
if we really want the Bible to become a part of us so that by this means the mind of Christ, which is expressed in the Bible, becomes our mind at least in part, then we must memorize important sections of Scripture. Our educational system does little to stress memorization today, but those who were educated a generation ago will testify that what they memorized then, whether simple verses or more complex passages from Shakespeare or other distinguished writers, have remained with them and have thereby become a part of who they are. As Christians we need to allow the Word of God to become a part of us. To have that happen we must memorize it.
Pat Williams, the general manager of the Orlando Magic, is a very busy man. He is always under pressure. Nevertheless, he spends twenty minutes a day in uninterrupted Bible study and in addition to that spends whatever time is necessary to memorize one verse of the Bible every day. He has memorized a verse a day for years, and he testifies that this is the single most important factor in his spiritual growth (Boice, J. M. Psalms: Grand Rapids, Mich.)
In his book "What Matters Most: Four Absolute Necessities in Following Christ" Pastor Tony Evans emphasizes memorization writing that...
Another way to read the Word is to memorize it. The psalmist said in Psalm 119:11,
“Thy word I have treasured in my heart.”
There’s no greater exercise than to memorize Scripture. If you have never done it before, start with a verse a week. At the end of a year, you’ll have fifty-two verses in your memory bank.
The purpose of memorizing Scripture is not so you can win a contest or a prize. God’s concern is that you have the Word in your heart so that you have it ready to use in any situation.
Why is that important? Because the Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). It’s the Word that the Holy Spirit uses to help you when tough times come. But if you don’t have the Word in your heart and mind, the Holy Spirit has no sword to pull out and wield.
The best example of the value of knowing Scripture is Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). Jesus answered Satan each time, “It is written.” Jesus didn’t open a copy of the Old Testament and show Satan the verse. He simply responded out of what was in His heart.
I can’t tell you how many times God has brought His Word to my mind to show me which way I should go. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He illumines our minds with the Word so that we can see what we ought to do. But we must first be diligent to put the Word into our minds.
In Proverbs 22:17, 18, we read this advice:
“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips.”
The Word cannot come to your lips and go out of your mouth until it is first “within you,” in your mind.
Then the writer says,
“I have taught you today.… Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge?” (Proverbs 22:19,20).
He is saying, “I wrote what you need, but you have to keep it within you.” If you will cooperate with the Spirit by working to memorize Scripture, He can put in your mind what needs to come out of your mouth when you face hard circumstances and difficulties.
You may be saying, “Tony, you don’t know me. I’m not good at memorizing things.” If you can remember your name, address, telephone number, and the names and phone numbers of a few friends, you can memorize Scripture.
For most of us, the real deal is that we don’t feel like doing Bible memory. Suppose you were offered ten thousand dollars for every verse you memorize. You would become the Bible memory champion of the world. That ten thousand dollars would give you brain cells you never knew you had before. Why? The reward would be worth the effort.
The prophet Ezekiel said that when God told him to eat the scroll containing His word to Israel, it was as sweet as honey in Ezekiel’s mouth (Ezek 3:1-15-notes). It was good to the taste. It was worth the effort. You only know whether something’s worth the effort when you put in the effort to find out.
When you see the Word of God become alive in your life, when you see it bubble forth from your heart, and when you see God honor His Word, then the issue of whether you’re good at Bible memory will disappear. When you find that you can send the devil packing with the Word the way Jesus did, you’ll know it is worth the effort to hide God’s Word in your heart.
Many of us have been telling the devil, “Go away, leave me alone.” But he doesn’t go anywhere, because it’s not our word he is afraid of. He’s only afraid of God’s Word. Many Christians don’t know that Satan can’t hang with the Word. Why can’t he? Because it is the power of God (Ro 1:16-note).
When Satan hears the Word, he hears the voice of God. And he can’t handle that voice. Jesus quoted three verses to Satan, and he was gone. Three strikes and he’s out.
Try using the Word on the devil when he tries to destroy your life, and you will see the power of the Word when applied in the life of a believer. You need to read the Word; that is, study it diligently and memorize it. (Evans, A. T. (1997). What Matters Most : Four Absolute Necessities in Following Christ. Chicago: Moody Press)
RECEPTION AND APPLICATION
While studying in the Holy Lands, a seminary professor of mine met a man who claimed to have memorized the Old Testament--in Hebrew! Needless to say, the astonished professor asked for a demonstration. A few days late they sat together in the man's home. "Where shall we begin?" asked the man. "Psalm 1," replied my professor, who was an avid student of the psalms. Beginning with Psalm 1:1, the man began to recite from memory, while my professor followed along in his Hebrew Bible. For two hours the man continued word for word without a mistake as the professor sat in stunned silence. When the demonstration was over, my professor discovered something even more astonishing about the man--he was an atheist! Here was someone who knew the Scriptures better than most Christians ever will, and yet he didn't even believe in God. (Jack Kuhatschek, Taking The Guesswork Out of Applying The Bible, IVP, 1991, p. 16.)
John Stephen commenting on Ps 119:11
There laid up in the heart the word has effect. When young men only read the letter of the Book, the word of promise and instruction is deprived of much of its power. Neither will the laying of it up in the mere memory avail. The word must be known and prized, and laid up in the heart; it must occupy the affection as well as the understanding; the whole mind requires to be impregnated with the word of God. Revealed things require to be seen. Then the word of God in the heart -- the threatenings, the promises, the excellencies of God's word -- and God himself realized, the young man would be inwardly fortified; the understanding enlightened, conscience quickened -- he would not sin against his God. -- (see Spurgeon's note)
William Cowper comments on Ps 119:11:
There is great difference between Christians and worldlings. The worldling hath his treasures in jewels without him; the Christian hath them within. Neither indeed is there any receptacle wherein to receive and keep the word of consolation but the heart only. If thou have it in thy mouth only, it shall be taken from thee; if thou have it in thy book only, Thou shalt miss it when thou hast most to do with it; but if thou lay it up in thy heart, as Mary did the words of the angel, no enemy shall ever be able to take it from thee, and thou shalt find it's comfortable treasure in time of thy need. Among many excellent virtues of the word of God, this is one: that if we keep it in our heart, it keeps us from sin, which is against God and against ourselves. We may mark it by experience, that the word is first stolen either out of the mind of man, and the remembrance of it is away; or at least out of the affection of man; so that the reverence of it is gone, before a man can be drawn to the committing of a sin. So long as Eve kept by faith the word of the Lord, she resisted Satan; but from the time she doubted of that, which God made most certain by his word, at once she was snared. --
Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836-1879 commenting on Ps 119:11:
"In proportion as the word of the King is present in the heart, "there is power" against sin (Eccl 8:4, cf Ps 37:31). Let us use this means of absolute power more, and more life and more holiness will be ours."
Moses exhortation to Israel just prior to going in to possess their possessions is a timeless exhortation for all God's children to hear and heed:
"For IT ('the words of this law') is not an idle (empty, vain, useless) WORD for you; indeed IT is your LIFE. (read that last phrase again) and by this WORD you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross theJordan to possess." (Dt 32:47).
Make more of an effort to read Scripture and memorize important passages. As you saturate your mind with Scripture, you will find your responses are based more on God's truth rather than your emotions. -- John MacArthur
Memorize the Psalms. Many whole psalms as well as portions are worth the effort of memorizing. If you struggle with depression, memorize verses on joy and praise. If you struggle with anxiety, memorize verses on peace, freedom from fear, and trusting God. Jot them on 3 x 5 cards and read them often until you know them. -- Steven Cole, Flagstaff Christian Fellowship
If we are serious about this (meditating on Scripture), we will find the time to meditate. And we will have some sort of regular reading program. Perhaps we’ll read through the Bible in a year. Or perhaps we’ll use one of the many Bible study guides that are available. And certainly we will try to memorize Scripture. This has become something of a lost art today. In an earlier generation, it was commonplace for Christians to emphasize Scripture memory. Today we have more or less relegated that practice to the Awana program. That’s a pity because when we hide the Word of God in our hearts, we are protected from sin and given strength to obey God. I know that many people, men especially, like to say, “I just can’t memorize. I’m too busy. My brain’s too fried. I can barely remember my phone number.” Women seem to do better at this, but we men have a thousand excuses. The truth is, we lack motivation. Suppose that Bill Gates came into the sanctuary with a 50-gallon drum filled with crisp, clean $100 bills. And suppose he offered $100 for each verse anyone memorized by next Sunday. That would change things, wouldn’t it? I’m sure we’ve got men who would figure out a way to memorize 100 verses by next Sunday because they need the money. But God’s Word is more precious than gold or silver. If we delight in the Word, we will find a way to read it, to meditate on it, and even to memorize it. -- Ray Pritchard
Last week I issued a challenge for some brave souls to memorize Psalm 119 this year. That’s a big task because it’s the longest chapter in the Bible. During the week I heard from two people who told me they planned to do it. Both are women, which didn’t surprise me because most of us men just can’t face a challenge like that. “I just can’t do it,” we say. Well, you won’t know whether you can or not until you put down the remote control and pick up your Bible. Then I heard from another woman and later I learned about a group of three men who are meeting each week to memorize Psalm 119. This morning one woman gave me a card and had me check her out on the first three verses.
The most touching message came from one of our teenagers. Here is part of her e-mail to me:
Hello Pastor Ray, I just wanted to let you know that your challenge for people to memorize all of Psalm 119 really spoke to my heart and I have been doing so since last week. When you said that memorizing this would bring people closer to the Lord, I had no idea how much truth was in that statement. Since memorizing is not one of my strong points I have had to rely on the Lord from the start of taking on this challenge. I can honestly say that I have never been so close to the Lord, or have had Him on my mind more than I have this past week. I’m sure many others have thanked you for giving that challenge by now, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you! The Lord is amazing, and it is amazing how far I am in my memorizing journey. I’m three times as far as I am supposed to be at this point. Now that is a miracle! You have kindled my steady flame of passion for the Lord, to a blaze! God Bless!
That young lady has discovered a wonderful secret for spiritual growth. If she stays on course, God is going to do great things in her life this year. -- Pastor Ray Pritchard (See his related sermon How Sweet Are Your Words Learning to Love the Word of God - January 2002)
Begin to Memorize Scripture - This has been the place where my own life has grown in the last few months. When Mark Bubeck was here for the spiritual warfare conference, he challenged us all to begin memorizing Scripture. You may remember that he began his message on Psalm 91 by quoting the entire Psalm from memory—slowly, with deep emotion, bringing out the meaning of every word. I felt deeply challenged by his example and determined then and there that I would begin memorizing Scripture.
I started with Psalm 91. My plan was simple. I photocopied the Psalm and carried it with me on the four-mile walk I take three or four times a week. I found out that if I concentrated, I could easily memorize six to eight verses on the back side of my walk, and sometimes quite a bit more than that. It took me about a week or so to get Psalm 91 down cold. Then I went on to Psalm 90. That took another week. From there I went back to Psalm 1, which I had memorized in the King James Version years ago. Then Psalm 2 and Psalm 3. When I spoke at Camp Nathanael at the end of June, I memorized most of Psalm 73. Then a week or so after that I picked up Psalm 20. I’ve been working on Psalm 34 for the last few days. That makes eight Psalms in a little over two months.
I’m not trying to memorize all the Psalms (although that’s certainly a worthy goal), but I’ve found that the Psalms introduce me to God in a way I’ve never known him before. Besides that, if you read enough of the Psalms, you discover the whole gamut of human emotions—anger, sorrow, fear, despair, frustration, joy, excitement, exultation, and profound worship.
More than once I have found myself waking up in the night bothered by some problem or gripped by some nameless fear. In those moments, as I begin to quote “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1), I discover that God’s Word soothes my soul, chases away my fears, and brings my problems down to their proper size.