Psalm 119: Introduction

Welcome! Whether you are here by invitation from the Facebook group, Memorizing Psalm 119, or have been following this blog, I would be honored if you will join with me in attempting to memorize and/or study the longest psalm in the Bible.  If you merely stumbled across this blog by accident, welcome just the same! The same invitation applies.

Whatever brings you here, my intention for the next several months is to both memorize and study Psalm 119. I would love nothing more than to do this in the fellowship of my Christian sisters and brothers.  My hope is to post devotional thoughts or to share what God is teaching me, personally, as I ruminate on this Word.

I am particularly excited about this project.  For a few years now, I have met at different times with friends, and we have prayed for God’s people to truly hunger for His word.  Even before these prayer meetings, I have had a personal wish to memorize this Psalm. Recently, God prompted me to combine the two into one project, and so here we are.

This theme of Psalm 119 is quite simply a passionate love of God and of His Word.  The psalmist uses a synonym for God’s Word in almost every line of the poem, and his powerful desire to walk closely with His God is evident throughout. Considering the focus of my prayer groups, it seems fitting, then, to study or memorize this psalm of passion for the Word of God and it’s Author.

Before we move on, let’s take a quick peek at the psalm itself. Besides being the longest psalm, it is also the longest chapter in the Bible. The author is not explicitly mentioned in this psalm, but many attribute it to David. Personally, I tend to favor Charles Spurgeon’s approach to assigning authorship:

It is Davidic in tone and expression, and it tallies with David’s experience in many interesting points. . .  After long reading an author one gets to know his style, and a measure of discernment is acquired by which his composition is detected even if his name be concealed. . .

This work was originally penned in Hebrew, of course, and it is an acrostic poem. It is broken into 22 stanzas of 8 verses each; one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  All 8 verses within each stanza begin with the corresponding letter, so the first word of each line of the first stanza begins with “aleph,” the first word of each line in the second stanza begins with “bet,” and so on.  You could even say it is the “aleph-bet” of following the Lord!

A little nerdy aside: I actually had to do a little legwork to figure this out. I have always heard that Psalm 119 was an acrostic, but when I would use the Strong’s numbers to look up each first word, I was befuddled to find that they did not start with the same-shaped letter.

Only recently did I realize my error: I was looking at the wrong end of the Hebrew word! Hebrew is written from right to left; quite the opposite from English. So when I was looking at what I thought was the beginning of the word in Hebrew, I was actually looking at the final letter!

If you are interested in additional fun facts about Psalm 119, check out this resource at for more nerdy bliss.

OK, now that you have a basic overview of the Psalm, let’s dive in, meditate on this wonderful Word, and store it up in our hearts…

Living Word, please be with each of us as we begin this venture to meditate on a section of Your Word. As we tuck these tidbits into our hearts,  let us taste and see that You are good.  Protect each brother or sister who embarks on this journey from the evil one’s attempts to counterfeit or destroy Your work.

We ask that You will provide the time, the mental ability, and the steadfastness that we will need to get into Your wonderful word, both to study and for those of us who will try to commit it to heart. As we seek to learn this Psalm, I pray that we will also meditate on the psalmist’s words. May it be that some of his ardor will trickle into our own hearts as well. Protect us from our own pride and may it all be done for the glory of Your Son in whose name we pray,  amen. 

Scripture Memory: Ten Tips for Getting Started

Before I begin with my personal tips and tricks for Scripture memory, I would like to humbly invite you to join with me in an attempt to memorize Psalm 119. Even if you do not feel able to memorize such a large chunk of Scripture at the present season of your life, I invite you to study along with us.

If you would like to participate as part of a group, I have a Facebook group called Memorizing Psalm 119 (link embedded) which has a suggested memorization schedule posted in the “Files” section. I will honor all requests to join the group and will only delete anyone who behaves in a non-Christian manner on the group page.

If you do join  us, note that I will be using the ESV translation, but you can use whichever you are most comfortable with. 🙂

For the next several weeks (beginning on Sunday, October 4, 2015), I will be attempting to hide this word of God in my heart as I study the psalm, and I hope to write weekly devotional thoughts or study notes as I go.  It is my prayer that these posts will be of some encouragement, interest, or benefit to the Body of Christ and that our God will be glorified in it.  This blog will be mainly  devoted to that purpose until we finish, in part to keep me accountable and to help me memorize.

Now for some tips:

  • First: Prayer. Pray for the time,  for the mental ability, and that you will not be distracted or discouraged by the enemy. Should you succeed, pray that you will not become puffed up with pride at your accomplishment but that God will use the memorized portion for His own purposes and glory.
  • Second: You can do it! One key to accomplishing anything is to begin by believing you can. If you fail, so what? You’ve at least tried.  God can use our failures as well as our triumphs; indeed, sometimes He uses our failures even more!
  • Third: Scripture memory can seem daunting at first, especially if you are thinking of tackling a large section. One of the first things to keep in mind is that you are not memorizing a whole passage in one sitting. Just as a 1000-mile journey will only be taken a few miles at a time, any passage you want to commit to memory will be done a few verses at a time. (For this project, it is only eight verses a week.)
  • Fourth:  Write it out. Copy each section word-for-word from your Bible. Be intentional about writing it, copying carefully and thoughtfully. Say it aloud while writing it out. Maybe even write it several times.  If you like, get a special notebook, note card holder, or whatever works for you and designate that as your Scripture memory and study tool.
  • Fifth: Review and more review. Take your notebook/journal/note card holder everywhere you go.  Start by reading the section out loud to yourself;  then try to recite it line by line, checking yourself between each line. When you are confident that you can correctly do one line at a time, try two at a time, then three, and so on. Have a relative or friend check you
  • Sixth: Recite, recite, recite. Follow the above procedure at least once, but preferably two to three times, every day. Always recite the verse(s) out loud. Somehow saying it aloud seems to make it stick.
  • Seventh: Did I say recite? Tell it to yourself in the mirror. Tell it to your spouse or children — or better yet, have them do it with you and check each other! Tell it to your dog, cat, or even a potted plant. The more you recite a section, the deeper it sinks into memory and the easier it is to add to it.
  • Eighth: When you add a new section, keep reciting the previous ones. Just add new sections into your daily recitation using the procedure outlined on the fifth step for each new section. Keep on reciting and reviewing “old” sections!
  • Ninth: Don’t be surprised if the earlier sections come easier than the later ones. You’ve (hopefully!) recited them more often.
  • Tenth:  If you get behind, don’t worry! If you are here to join in the project of memorizing Psalm 119, understand that the project is flexible. The schedule I suggested in the Facebook group is just that: a suggestion and not an absolute.

The goal to hiding God’s Word in our hearts is never to win a race or meet a deadline. The ultimate goal is nicely stated in Psalm 119:11 — “I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

Blessings to you on your Scripture memory journey! May the Lord give you a clear and capable mind, protecting you against the schemes of our enemy.   Feel free to share any tips or trick you have used! I would love to hear them.