The Commandment of the Lord is Pure
How to memorize the ten commandments
By Zach Dietrich
“I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands.” (Psalm 119:10).
“…for I do not forget your commandments” (Psalm 119:176b).
What is the sixth commandment? How about the third? Which commandment says, “You shall not steal”? Could you list all Ten Commandments? Can you list all ten in order?
I can hear some of you push back. You’re thinking, “I can’t even keep the commandments, and now you expect me to know them? I don’t want to be a legalist.”
Until a few years ago, I don’t ever recall knowing the Ten Commandments. I had no idea that put me – a pastor – in the minority of Christians throughout history. Did you know that until recently, most historic Christian discipleship began with Ten Commandments?
Kevin DeYoung pointed this out in his book, The Ten Commandments. He said, “The church has historically put the Ten Commandments at the center of its teaching ministry, especially for children and new believers. For centuries, catechetical instruction was based on three things: the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments.”
Thankfully, there’s a resurgence within some Christian discipleship to again learn these foundational truths. At Soteria, I’ve even begun to regularly help students, both parents and adults, memorize the Ten Commandments by including them in classes. It’s a blast to see friends see that not only can they memorize quickly, but they can also have fun doing it!
Here are three tips to etch the commandments into our memory.
Learn with hand motions
I learned to hold up three fingers like a W to remember the third commandment. Watch your words. “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.”
A few years ago, someone taught me ten hand motions to remember all ten, and now they are fused in my mind. While the Ten Commandments were written in stone, hand motions were not. There are lots of good teaching tools out there. Google “Ten Commandments hand motions” and you can steal – I mean borrow – the creativity of other teachers.
Learn with music
Songs stick. Especially fun ones. I’ve learned the Ten Commandments using a couple of different songs. Here’s a memorable song available through New City Catechism.
Whatever we learn together, we learn for longer. Songs and scripture learned in community etches more deeply into our memory. Try dedicating moments together at the supper table, with your growth group, or in a class.