In this chapter you will either encounter or reclaim a terrific spiritual discipline. Not because the chapter speaks to it. Rather, because this is a fine place to bring it up.
As you read Proverbs Chapter 10 you might find that several verses leap off the page. Stop, savor them, and then re-read them. You might find yourself not wanting to move past them.
This is where a tool used by our spiritual fore-bearers comes in handy: Scripture memorization. Sure, years ago, you memorized some verses in Vacation Bible School or for Bible verse competitions at church camp. We know it was the Kool-Aid and cookies that made you do it. As children in the 70s and 80s, when an elderly, rose water-scented lady offered us store brand cookies — it was never the Oreos or Chips Ahoy, oh no, the church’s money wasn’t wasted on brand name cookies; the generic Creme-Snerts and Choco-Nubs thawed out from last year “were still fine”– and Kool-Aid laden with red dye #47, we politely memorized Bible verses, sang hokey songs (and did the dances that go with them), and make strange crafts to shove off on our parents. When I was 8 I actually made my dad an ash tray at Vacation Bible School. Maybe the theme that year was “Holy Smokes.” I digress …
Today, instead of surveying this chapter of Proverbs, let’s take a different approach. This will help us in two ways: 1. Chapter 10 is a ball of yarn of principles and truths that would require more than this humble post to unravel and then weave back together. 2. This chapter lends itself to beginning, or revisiting, the practice of memorizing Bible verses. Verses 12, 17, and 19 are prime candidates itching to be invited into your noggin.
Scripture memorization has fallen on hard times. Thanks to the riches of information at our fingertips, there is a poverty of memorization in our society. The Bible does not have a Google function, sorry. There is no short cut to knowing God’s Word. But, we have tool that will help.
When the writer of Proverbs or the Psalms speaks of hiding God’s Word in your heart, or meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2, 119:15, and 119:48), he is referring to committing portions of the Bible to memory and thinking on them day to day. It is through this internalizing of God’s Word that He transforms us (see Colossians 3:19 and Romans 12:2). For some of you this might be new, for some this may be a regular practice. Either way, we have some upcoming chapters full of verses ripe for the mental picking (chapters 17, 25, and 27). So, let’s use the rest of this post to consider some tips for memorizing Bible verses:
1. Read a version of the Bible that makes sense to you. It is hard to memorize a verse if it uses language that seems archaic to you. Notice that I did not say archaic, I said archaic to you. Some folks prefer new translations like the English Standard Version (ESV) or New International Version (NIV). Others find older translations such as the King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), or New American Standard Bible (NASB) more suitable. Personally, I read, study, and memorize from the New King James and ESV. Those fit me well. You should read what works best for you. I will add a warning here, do not switch back and forth from one version to another. Each version is intentionally different in linguistic style. Switching might actually make memorization more difficult for you.
2. Read deliberately, and audibly. When you run across a verse that catches your attention, stop, re-read it, and then read it aloud. Go slow. Repeat it many times. I find that repeating it in my mind, then aloud, and repeating that process several times helps the verse to stick. Experiment. Find a way that works for you.
3. Write it down. Writing a verse in your journal, or on a note card, also aids in committing it to memory. Consider starting a Bible verse journal for 2019. Determine to write out a memory verse each week. By the end of the year you will have memorized 52 verses. Those verses hidden in your mind and heart will be seeds for growth that God will use to bear fruit in your life.
4. A final tip is to find a friend to share verses with. The two of you can discuss new verses and hold each other accountable for staying on track.
For some of you memorization will come easily, like riding a bike. For some it will feel like falling off a bike. Some folks are more wired for memorization than others. Don’t fret if you find it a steep climb. Just keep working at it. It will become easier. It helps to remember that God’s Word is not a series of stagnant sentences that must be beaten into our brains. God’s Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), once it’s planted inside you, it grows. You will also find that when you have several verses implanted in your mind/heart, they begin to connect and shed light on each other. It’s amazing!
So, grab your Bible, a notebook, do some mental jumping jacks, and get to memorizing. Get your brain limbered up because there are some great verses ahead begging to be in your brain. To jump start the process consider chugging some Kool-Aid and munching on a handful of stale cookies. Soon you will find yourself memorizing verses and creating dances to go with them. Old school …