“I have hidden Your word in my heart so that I might not sin against You.” Literally, I have “treasured it.” So says the Psalmist in 119:11. Jesus constantly quoted Scripture as do Paul and the other New Testament writers. This evidences their practice of memorizing Scripture.
Some of the greatest preachers of all time seem to breathe Scripture, and perhaps such a love for it infuses their sermons with spiritual life. Spurgeon said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.”
So, what are some great passages to start with? Well, Genesis 1:1-5 and John 1:1-5 are a great start. As you memorize these two passages, you will begin to see that John’s text is actually giving a commentary on the Genesis-1 passage.
For me, old-school memorization is the best. Get a passage and write it out on index cards. If you are technologically savvy, you can print them out. I usually do 1-3 words a card. If you review and pray over them as part of your morning devotions, in no time at all, you will find yourself meditating on these passages like never before. They will become beloved parts of your life. You will start seeing beautiful connections in Scripture.
This semester I’m teaching intro classes for both the Old and New Testament. I’m having these classes memorize passages of Scripture. Ezekiel 36:22-36 is the Old Testament one. You may not realize it, but Jesus’s advice to pray “Hallowed be thy name” is in fact a quotation from Ezekiel 36:23. If you line these passages up in Greek, they are virtually identical. Also, Paul quotes from Ezekiel 36 in Romans 2, and one could make the argument that part of his exhortation in Romans is simply spelling out the theological implications of the new covenant promises in Ezekiel 36 and 37 to the racially divided Church in Rome.
In many ways, Ezekiel 36:22-36 is like the Midway Island between the Old Testament and the New. It is connecting original Eden with restored new Jerusalem. This may explain John’s use of Ezekiel 37:9 (alluding to Genesis 2:7 with YHWH breathing into Adam) with Jesus breathing into the disciples in John 20:22. In Greek, all three passages are using the same, rare word.
The New Testament class is memorizing Romans 7:22-8:14. This passage is wonderful in that it is honest about the struggles a Christian will have with the remnants of his original depravity. At the same time, it promises that for such a struggling person, there is no condemnation, and that ultimately complete victory will be theirs in Christ.
May God grant us boundless delight in regular Scripture memory.