Lessons on Scripture Memorization from Psalm 136

Lessons on Scripture Memorization from Psalm 136

I remember the first time my eyes glanced over Psalm 136 and read its words with one thought in mind: What if I memorized this chapter? 

It seemed like a daunting task. Memorizing verses of praise and reflection on God’s mighty acts towards His people seemed like an encouraging place to land a Scripture memory goal - but there were twenty-six verses.  

It wasn’t long before I realized that my excuse - its intimidating length - couldn’t stop me. Each verse in the chapter ended with the phrase, “For his mercy endureth forever.” If I could just memorize that phrase, I’d have half the chapter already memorized. Now I was asking myself, “How could I not give this a try?” 

I soon recruited a group of friends who were in a Bible study with me at the time. Together, we jumped head-first into memorizing Psalm 136 - some finishing the chapter in just 24 hours. We had no intention of completing it that soon, but the elements of accountability and competition had an effect. In the end, if the chapter could be recited to another member of the group successfully after memorization, they’d receive an award given by the rest of the group. It was one of the best challenges that we could have given ourselves. Some of them even contacted me afterward and said what an impact “high-intensity memorization” had on their spiritual lives. Though we understood that such memorization wasn’t sustainable in the long run, the challenge allowed us to fix our thoughts more fully on Scripture. 

Just this past week, I found myself going back to review Psalm 136. I was brought back to the many memories of trying to memorize this chapter in every free moment of my day. As I walked downstairs, as I did the chores, and as I sat in my room, Scripture was before me. The mundane moments of my life were suddenly turned into sacred ones because my mind was hidden deep in the wells of God’s living Word. More than memories that passed through my mind, however, reviewing what I had memorized caused me to meditate on the deeper truths of this chapter. It caused me to realize that Psalm 136 and the discipline of Scripture memorization had a lot in common. What were their similarities? 

1. Memorization Requires Repetition - As the phrase, “For his mercy endureth forever,” is repeated twenty-six times throughout this antiphonal Psalm, Scripture memorization and retention require continuous repetition. In addition to its necessity, the more we repeat the truths of God’s Word, the deeper they sink into our minds and change us. I imagine that the Israelites couldn’t sing twenty-six proclamations of the Lord’s mercy without taking it to heart.  

2. Memorization Recalls God’s Goodness - Throughout the entire chapter, we see the goodness of God proclaimed by His people. First through praise (vs. 1-3), Creation (vs. 4-9), then through their deliverance from Egypt (vs. 10-16), the conquering of enemy kings (vs. 17-22), to redemption and provision (vs. 23-26). The Israelites reflected on God’s goodness as Psalm 77:11-12 instructs us, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” This, too, is the result of those who memorize the words and promises of God hidden in Scripture.  

3. Memorization Results in Praise - As Charles Spurgeon states in his work, The Treasury of David,  

From the striking form of it we should infer that it was a popular hymn among the Lord's ancient people. Most hymns with a solid, simple chorus become favourites with congregations, and this is sure to have been one of the best beloved. It contains nothing but praise. It is tuned to rapture, and can only be fully enjoyed by a devoutly grateful heart.”  

Similarly, memorizing Scripture is an act of revering the words of God, resulting in praise to God Himself. The end result of memorization is also an act of praise, as the people who internalize God’s good promises radiate thanksgiving back to Him. 

This week, will you take up the challenge and memorize the praise-filled words of Psalm 136? Consider inviting a friend or two to join you on the journey. Together, come up with your own personal goal and rewards for the finish line. Don’t let the fact that this chapter is twenty-six verses long keep you from committing it to memory. Besides, you may already have half of it memorized!  

Start hiding this chapter in your heart today! Tap here to download the free collection of Psalm 136 in VerseLocker. 

Psalm 136:26 - “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”  


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