For the month of January, our Scripture Memory passage at Harvest Jacksonville is one of great hope… of new beginnings… of promise… Isaiah 43.18-19.
Although I usually prefer to memorize Scripture in the KJV or NKJV, I actually memorized verse 18 years ago in the NIV (1984), so I will stick with that translation for this passage:
18 Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (ESV)
“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NKJV)
While most Bible translators place do not place a comma between “Wonderful” and “Counselor” (ESV, NASB, etc.), some don’t (KJV, NKJV). While it may not seem like a big deal, it does change the number of names from 4 to 5. One needs to remember that the original Hebrew did not have punctuation marks, so the translator is forced into making an interpretive decision. I think that 4 names is correct, partially because it keeps the symmetry of the list, with each name having at least two words.
One thing I like better about the KJV/NKJV rendering is the use of the word “unto.” There is two reasons for this. First, I grew up hearing the familiar, majestic language of the King James Version every Christmas. So there is some nostalgia involved. Second, I cannot seem to get Handel’s Messiah out of my head. I simply cannot imagine the choir singing “For TO us a child is born” instead of “For UNTO us a child is born.”
But in making reference to Handel’s Messiah, I must acknowledge that, Handel having used the King James Version, his song supports the idea of FIVE names: Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Regardless of whether Isaiah was prophesying about a coming Messiah who would be Wonderful and a Counselor OR a Wonderful Counselor, there is not doubt He was talking about our glorious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We are living in an era when, as English speakers, we have a multitude of choices when it comes to translations of the Bible. Throughout the history of my Christian journey, I have used many translations for my daily reading, including the New International Version (NIV), New American Standard (NASB), and English Standard Version (ESV). However, the older I get and the longer I’ve studied the Bible, the more I have grown to prefer the King James Version (KJV) and New King James Version (NKJV). Here’s why…
I have come to believe that they are based upon the best collection of ancient manuscripts, known as the Byzantine family of texts. I acknowledge that this is the minority position among conservative Bible scholars today. Yet the fact remains that the Byzantine family is that which has been preserved and cherished by most Christians for the entire history of the Christian church.
Hear me clearly: If you are using a Bible based upon the Alexandrian family of manuscripts (like the NIV, NASB, ESV or NLT), you have a Bible that presents the Gospel clearly and has all the major doctrines of the Christian faith. I am not KJVO (King James Version only).
That said, I like having a Bible in my hand that does not omit certain verses or phrases or question the legitimacy entire sections of the Scripture.
Singing is a great way to get God’s Word into our hearts. Seeds Family Worship is a great resource for helping us sing God’s Word. I frequently hear our children singing God’s Word as as they play because they have heard songs like this so often:
The title suggests we should memorize the entire Bible. Not a reasonable goal for most of us. But how much of the Bible do we have hidden in our hearts? Few practices in your life will yield as much fruit as memorizing portions of God’s Word. Here are a few ideas for helping you integrate this difficult but vital spiritual discipline:
1. Have a Scripture memory accountability partner. It’s helpful if you are both on the same Scripture memory plan, but even if you are not, it’s beneficial to have someone else spurring you on to success.
2. Find a plan. Don’t put more work on yourself by having to figure out which Scripture you are going to memorize and when your goal will be to get it memorized. Here are two of the most popular plans:
(a) Topical Memory System – The Navigators developed this system several years ago and it has benefitted numerous Christians, especially those new to Scripture memory. The iPhone app for this tool is $2.99
(b) Fighter Verses – This system grew out of the children’s ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It’s also the plan I recently started. The iPhone app for this tool is $1.99
3. Memorize in your primary translation. For example, since the ESV is the primary translation I use, I memorize from the ESV.
4. Write out the verse(s) you are trying to memorize…multiple times. I don’t know if they still do it in school, but back when I was growing up, one of the ways students were punished for bad behavior was to write multiple times on the chalkboard (remember those?) the behavior they would not continue. Example: write 50 times on the chalkboard, “I will not talk in class.” Well, the principle applies to memorizing God’s Word. Just keep writing it out until you have it memorized. It works.
5. Keep good records of what you have memorized and go back regularly and review. If you do not review regularly, you will forget what you have memorized. Back when I was in college I memorized the first chapter of James. I still can remember parts of the chapter, but can no longer recite it from memory verbatim.
What are some ideas you have when it comes to Scripture memory? What has worked for you? How has Scripture memory impacted your life?