The first time I heard “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” is when Patrick Swayze rescued Baby from the corner. Every time I hear Bill Medley’s smooth voice, I see Johnny looking into Baby’s eyes lip syncing, “I’ve had the time of my life. No, I’ve never felt this way before…” I know every word to the song and every move to the last dance of the season at Kellerman’s.
What in the world does Dirty Dancing have to do with scripture memory? I watched that movie so many times that I know every song on the soundtrack, every dance move, every line. That is the aim of scripture memory: that we might know the commands, the faithfulness, and the heart of God through the memorization of His Word.
Memorizing scripture is not just something we do as kids to earn candy in Sunday School. It is a way of life for the believer. Woven through Psalm 119 is a love for and devotion to God’s Word.
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth, Psalm 119:13.
There are (at least) six benefits for scripture memory found in Psalm 119.
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws, Psalm 119:9. Being steeped in scripture gives us a heart of praise. God designed us to praise Him. He gave us the song book when He inspired the scriptures. His Word is full of passages that elicit praise. As we commit these to memory, we have a repertoire of praise to glorify God.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you, Psalm 119:11. Memorizing scripture guards our heart against sin. As we meditate on God’s law, our hearts begin to discern what is right and wrong (Romans 3:20). We develop wisdom to make choices that honor God. For example, our media choices can be guided through the lens of Philippians 4:8. Knowing that verse will help us avoid sinful behavior when the remote or mouse is in our hand.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word, Psalm 119:28. God’s Word brings comfort, strength, and healing. I am often at a loss for the right words in awkward, painful, or difficult circumstances. God, however, is never at a loss for words! His Word contains just the right thing for every situation we may face. By having His words hidden in our hearts, we will be able to recall His just right words in every situation.
Direct me in the path of your commands for there I find delight, Psalm 119:35. God’s Word acts as a road map for our life. We are continually faced with decisions, big and small. Having a library of scripture in our hearts and minds will act as a compass, guiding us as we make those decisions (Romans 12:2). The result is delight–a sense of well being as we feel God’s pleasure.
I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, Psalm 119:46. Have you ever been tongue tied in the middle of a discussion over a matter of faith? Or afraid to speak up because you didn’t know how to defend the truth? I am too often silenced by my own ignorance. By making the effort to memorize scripture, we strengthen our ability to defend our faith. This will become increasingly important as our culture slips farther away from a biblical worldview.
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me, Psalm 119:133. Scripture memory breaks the chains of sin. When we are caught in a pattern of sin, we can cling to God’s Word, relying on His power to set us free (Romans 6:17-18). As we begin to replace the lies of the enemy with the Truth, the Holy Spirit can lead us to “life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).
When something is important to us, we give a lot of time and energy to it. I loved Dirty Dancing in 1987. I spent a lot of time with the VCR remote in hand, soaking in every detail. As a result, I can’t hear “Hey, Hey Baby” or “Hungry Eyes” without thinking of that summer at Kellerman’s.
God’s Word–there is nothing more precious. Will you commit to taking the time to meditate and memorize it? Seek after it as you would a hidden treasure!
What verse or passage will you commit to memory today? You can start with one of the verses from Psalm 119 that will motivate you to embrace this spiritual discipline.