I recently lost a database so I am re-running a few older posts as I recover them; this is from last year shortly after Chick Corea passed away.
I was recently watching a video in which Chick Corea, one of the best jazz pianists ever, was explaining the difference between memorizing music and knowing music. This may seem like an exercise in semantics, but the two are very different processes. In the video Chick gave examples of reading a sheet of music then committing that sheet to memory. He described playing the music while using the energy to remember what we saw on the sheet in memory. In other words memorization works, but it requires more energy because of the work of memory.
Chick then went on to explain how knowing a piece of music is different that memorizing. Knowing means that there is no effort in remembering the music because you simply know it. The music has become a part of you and playing it is as effortless as breathing or walking. Think about it for a minute. Do you ever really think about taking steps when walking or do you just walk? While we may think carefully about the words we use to speak, the act of speaking does not require us to think about how to move our mouths to create sound.
Knowing is what the Psalmist is relating in Psalm 119 in the phrase, "I have hidden your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you." (Ps 119:11 NRSV) The Psalmist is describing how the word is known in the heart. There is no effort required to remember the words of God; instead the words of God are a part of the Psalmists experience and heart. They can describe and explain those words, and they are embedded into their person.
I have always struggled with memory verses. The act of memorization is an art lost on me. I would try and give it tremendous effort, but I would usually fail or leave lines out. However, the meanings of passages of scripture live in my heart. I can describe Paul's discussion of taking off the old body and putting on a new one in Second Corinthians. I can describe John's nativity of Jesus being in the beginning and being God in creation. While I can recite portions of those, it is not from memorization but of knowing. In the case of John's prologue, I can even hear the Greek text from working with it and coming to know it. But, even though I know those scriptures, I cannot always put an exact chapter and verse to them. But that is OK because knowing is much more important than memorizing. Knowing leads to comprehension and a bubbling to the fore when needed. Knowing allows us to feel those words when in crisis, hurt, or other need. Knowing allows us to dwell in the presence of the Lord without the effort of memory.