This Sunday the senior pastor preached on Psalm 1 and highlighted the importance of Bible memorization. He focused on verse 2 specifically about how a blessing comes from delighting ourselves in the word of God, and that memorization yields fruit that never withers away. He contrasted this with a maple tree that had been planted in his backyard 100 years ago. One day when the pastor was gazing at the tree’s immensity and beauty, he observed a part of its leaves and branches were severely withered in comparison to the rest. Sure enough, the disease quickly spread to other parts of the tree over a short span of a few weeks. After calling the city to investigate, the inspector arrived and got to work. He gave the pastor a sad frown and said, ‘I’m sorry but this tree has to be cut down immediately, we’ll have a crew come in a few days’. Turns out the tree had completely rotted on the inside and was dying.
As I was researching how trees die I found something interesting. The root cause of every trees death is its inability to supply nutrients to itself. Whether disease, insects, drought, tornado, or old age, all these factors destroy the trees ability to feed itself. And a tree that cannot access enough water and sunlight will inevitably die. So there is also a spiritual lesson. Isaiah 61:3 describes Christians as ‘oaks of righteousness’. The tree is also a metaphor of our own lives, and the Bible is the water that nourishes our soul. Without this water, we will rot like that maple tree. We can initially give our life to Christ and become washed by the blood. But we still live in a sinful body and need to constantly submit it to the word of God by his Holy Spirit. Without this constant ‘sanctifying’ effect, we die inwardly from sin. It doesn’t mean we become hell bound, but our lives on earth will certainly feel like hell. Just like that tree. Beautiful on the outside, but quickly decaying on the inside. Funny enough fruits also operate on the same principle – apples, oranges, you name it. You can bite into a pretty apple, and find a horrible taste on the other end. This is also why appearances can be so deceiving.
I could just end here and by saying the lesson of the day is to memorize the scriptures slowly day by day. But I’ve found that too shallow. I’ve preached twice on Psalm 1 and found that there’s always new truths to be discovered in God’s word. Here’s my own personal take on the passage, and it goes back to verse 2-3 again.
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Remember in John 1:1 what Jesus was called? He was called “the word”. Just think about that. Jesus is the living embodiment of our bibles. So then, according to Psalm 1 we are delighting not just in the 10 commandments, the old testament, but also Christ, who is the fulfillment of everything in God’s word! We delight in Christ’s commandments. For example, Christ gave us a new law, to love our enemies and those who hurt us. When we do this, we delight in the law of the Lord.
Now remember in John 4 Jesus has a conversation with a Samaritan woman. The woman is at the well to draw water, and Jesus offers her a different kind of water, ‘living water’ as he calls it. This water has special properties. 1) whoever drinks of it will never be thirsty 2) whoever drinks of it will produce a spring of water that produces eternal life. What a deal! Does this water not look like the water of Psalm 1:3? The water that feeds a tree whose leaves don’t wither? The water that produces delight and constant blessing from God’s word? The water that produces spiritual fruits of love, joy, patience, and kindness?
I would argue that bible memorization is just like drinking from the well of Christ. If you want to know how deep someone’s faith is, just see how much they have the Bible memorized. My best friends are those who love God’s word. The key is not brute memorization, but like Psalm 1:2, proper meditation and application in ones life as well. Friends, God’s word is deep, life giving, and produces great joy. I didn’t say it would be easy to memorize or even learn from. There’s going to be a lot you won’t understand why its there. Here’s a few of my own: who exactly was Melchizedek? Why was Sampson called righteous for doing an act of revenge? What was Paul’s thorn? What’s the point of the genealogies 1 Chronicles 1-12? Who was the dude who ran off naked in Mark 14:51 and why was that recorded?
I jest, but the Bible has a lot of humor in it too, which is great cause you can’t always be serious. But yeah its got tragedy, romance, intrigue, politics, history, philosophy, ethics, Christian living, all wrapped into one. I haven’t even covered the amazing history of how we got our English version in our hands in the first place. How many saints had died and heresies had to be fought is worth a movie itself. As a final tip, start small and memorize one verse a week. During the week, ask God how you can apply it to your life. And the Holy Spirit will begin to feed that life giving water to your soul. Just taste and see.
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