I am reading a book right now called Giving up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture, by Brian H. Cosby. In a section of this book Cosby lays out the importance of meditation and memorization of God’s Word. It’s an excellent and insightful little section, and thought I would share.
“Robert Dabney, the nineteenth century Southern Presbyterian and theologian, noted that the Christian should meditate on “the ascertained perfections of God, until the soul is suffused with sacred affections.” Two of the most intimate and soul-satisfying disciples of the Christian life are Scripture meditation and memorization. They are also some of the hardest, which is why they have all but disappeared across the evangelical landscape.
The Psalmist writes, blessed is the man whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). The word for “law” may be used broadly to encompass all of God’s Word. Our delight should be in God’s holy Word to such a degree that we should meditate on it – day and night! Meditation is an avenue of using God’s Word as a means of Grace. The Psalmist goes on to describe how that grace is applied: “He is like a tree well planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (v. 3).
Meditating on God’s Word is a way that we enter into intimate communion with Him and rest in His promises. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4). It is in God’s Word that we encounter the sovereign Lord, the works of God in creation and providence, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. May [we] say with David, “On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate” (Psalm 145:5)!
Closely associated with meditation is Scripture memorization. Memory works like a muscle in your brain, which builds strength and makes you able to retain more, the more you exercise it in memorization. Many Christians don’t attempt memorizing Scripture, and hide behind natural excuses such as, “My brain doesn’t work like that,” or, “Why memorize a verse when I could just look it up?”
In John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character, Christian, finds himself battling the evil dragon Apollyon. The description is worth quoting here:
“While Apollyon lifted himself up to deliver his last blow and to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his sword and grabbed it, saying, “Rejoice against me, O my enemy: when I fall, I shall rise back up.” With that, Christian gave Apollyon a deadly thrust, which made the fiend fall back as one who had received a mortal wound.”
What is particularly striking about this story is that Christian grabs his “sword” and then speaks God’s Word, using it as both a defensive and an offensive weapon. In Ephesians 6, Paul describes the armor of God and ends with a description of the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). The reason this is striking is that the Greek word for “word” here is the more unusual rhema, which is the spoken word. In order to speak this word during battle, Christian had to first know the word in his heart.
It’s quite amazing the number of songs we know by heart. It’s even more amazing the number of songs youth know by heart! Yet we succumb to Satan’s lie that it’s of no great benefit to us to know God’s Word by heart. The Psalmist writes, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). In an age of rampant teen pregnancies, suicides through the roof, and pornographic addictions, we still have the pride to say that hiding God’s Word in our hearts is of no real benefit.
Our only hope must come from the gospel of Jesus, who three times answered the enticements of Satan in the wilderness by quoting God’s Word. While we remain unfaithful to God in knowing, meditating, memorizing, and delighting in His Word, Jesus was perfectly faithful on our behalf. The good news of Jesus Christ has great application for the entertainment-saturated teenager.” (pp40-42)
Earlier this week, Ryan K. pointed out the importance of taking time for meditation on God’s Word’s. I would like to encourage you (and me!) to memorize God’s Word also. It’s something that we often forget the importance of doing. Let us follow the example Jesus gave, and the many before and after Him. Let us be in the Word every day, mediating on it and memorizing it. It is so endlessly rich and full of blessings!