If you need to be moved from one place emotionally to another: (1) Identify a Psalm that relates to your experience. (2) Systematically memorize it over a period of time. (3) As you do so, experience the movement of the Psalm and be transported by the Spirit in conjunction with the Word.
Psalms are poetry. This means that they are truth to be experienced. The idea with poetry is not that we simply learn objective truth. Rather, poetry, particularly in the case of the Word of God, transports us through an experience.
You might respond, “Well, when I read Psalms, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.”
We cannot experience poetry with a quick read. Rather, we need to hear the Words – – to reflect on them – – to prayerfully take in delight at pondering the images. There is no better way to accomplish this than through memorization.
Below are two pages from my moleskin that picture how I went about memorizing Psalm 65 this summer. While you wouldn’t be able to read my writing even if it was larger, you can see that my basic approach was to mediate on the Psalm by saying it over and over again.
If you were to turn to the next page, you would see notes that I made while memorizing the Psalm – – ways that the Psalm moved me.
I appreciated this Psalm initially, but nowhere near the degree to which I savor it now.
Why Psalm 65?
I chose Psalm 65 initially because of verse 6, “The one who established the mountains being girded with might.” I was staying in the Lauterbrunnen valley (see below) at the time, arguably the most beautiful valley in Europe. My goal was for the poetry of the Word of God to interpret the beauty for me so that I could move from the place of initial awe to one of worship.
What I discovered by memorizing the Psalm – – was that this is a Psalm about joy and happiness. Indeed, the place where it moves the prayerful “meditator” is to one of celebration.
One of my favorite things to do in the Lauterbrunnen Valley was watch this cog wheel train wind its way up the side of the mountain. It was as though I was watching a life-toy train. What a joy to meditate on the truth that the Triune God established these mountains, being girded with might (Psalm 65:6).
Which is the right Psalm for you to begin memorizing? There are only 150 to chose from. So it shouldn’t take that long to identify one.