Psalm 119:11 in the NASB reads: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”
What exactly does this mean? That we are to memorize His written Word?
I find that this verse actually means something somewhat different from what pastors teach us – for more reference, let us turn to John.
The first verse of John reads (in a ton of versions), “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
I think you might have an idea of what I’m getting at.
Let’s back up a little bit. I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the subject of the Law’s New Testament correlation – and that goes for Psalms, Proverbs, and other OT books.
For example, in Proverbs 21:9, we read a very sound statement about being married to a quarrelsome wife. Long story short – it’s not pleasant. Anyways, it’s really good advice stating (paraphrased) that it’s better to be holed up on the corner of your roof with no humans to talk to at all than share a mansion with a wife that picks fights.
Pretty good advice by anyone’s reckoning. And in that advice, we find the literal meaning of the passage.
Sometimes we translate the meaning of a verse over to something else in our lives. Take, for example, the thought that hanging around fight-picking friends is worse than having no one to call friend at all. That thought is a (very) loose application of my little paraphrase into other aspects of life, and could be considered a derived meaning of the passage.
But what if there’s another extent we can (and should) take the Law, the Prophets, and other Old Testament books to? A more spiritual extent, perhaps, that takes into account that every word in the Old Testament actually foreshadows Jesus, be that prophecy or not. Even what looks like good advice (and is) has a hidden meaning of sorts.
Proverbs 21:9 is just one verse in the Old Testament, and there’s so many more that can be applied to not only other aspects of life, but our walk with Christ.
Let’s review another proverb – how about Proverbs 25:16?
Yes, I think it’s gross too. But just for fun, I picked the Message version. (I checked and made sure it was at least 75% accurate in comparison to other versions. 😉 )
“When you’re given a box of candy, don’t gulp it all down; eat too much chocolate and you’ll make yourself sick.”
Look, this is awesome advice when taken literally. I know this from past experience when I was about six… But let’s not get on that subject.
But it can also be applied to bagillions of other things – after all, you don’t want too much of a good thing. (Hint: a derived meaning)
What about a spiritual meaning? How about this: to taste of enjoyment in life is not a bad thing. God never forbid having fun. But to pursue that thing can become (and is) idolatry. And depending on what that thing is, you might not need to know that sweetness at all!
Anyways, I’ve been thinking a lot on the topic of New Testament correlations, and those are just a couple examples.
Back to Psalms 119:11.
If someone is memorizing Scripture, would that not be hiding His Word in their brain?
Now, if one spends a lot of time in the Bible and praying in their prayer language or otherwise, it will penetrate their heart and begin to touch them.
But – and I could be wrong – I don’t personally believe God’s planning to take our bodies into a back room on the Day of Judgment and do an autopsy on our brains to see how much we’ve memorized in this life.
He’s going to see if we truly hid and treasured His Word in our hearts.
Before we get any further in this discussion, let’s clarify one thing: I’m not discouraging Bible memorization. In fact, I have been doing more of it myself lately. I’m encouraging you to understand a different perspective on a Bible verse many relate to memorization.
Back to hiding His Word in our hearts: If we dare to read John 1:1, we will find that God is the Word. He didn’t just give us His Word in the Bible. He is the Word in every conceivable way. The Bible is His love letter to us, and we do need to treasure it. What would possess us not to!
But the main idea here is that we need to hide Jesus in our hearts – our brains, too, but especially our hearts.
How can we do this, you ask?
The idea of Jesus being treasured in our hearts bears a striking resemblance to the idea of the Holy Spirit He left with us.
And I’m just getting started!
I’m sure you’re starting to get the idea.
Conclusion: Memorization of the written Word is a powerful tool, and in one aspect (a literal one), is what is meant by Psalms 119:11. But treasuring the Word – Christ – in our hearts, by way of the Holy Spirit, is a deeper (spiritual) meaning than what we’ve been taught, but equally as true.