The Lord required the kings of Israel to perform an unusual task—to handwrite their own copy of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Why? He knew there were huge, rarely-discovered benefits to be gained in the personal handwriting of Scripture. Let's look at each of them in turn.
It was humbling. It required learning to read and write. Some people are gifted with beautiful handwriting, but many write with difficulty and are embarrassed by their scribbles. Further, if the king didn’t understand the Scripture he was hand copying, he would have to humble himself to ask one of the priests to explain it.
It required sacrifice. Hand copying Scripture, especially the first five books of the Bible, would take many days, not just a couple. The king would have to be committed. He would have to reschedule his everyday fast-paced life to make time for Scripture handwriting. As a result, he would develop a slower-paced lifestyle that gave him time to pray, meditate and reflect before he acted.
3. Holy Spirit
While hand copying Scripture, the Word of God, the king would come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The king would read of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth in six days, of the inspiring faith of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. He would learn of the crushing slavery of Israel in Egypt and the miraculous deliverance God worked in the Exodus. He would learn the Ten Commandments, the righteous statutes God gave Israel, and the value of the priesthood and tabernacle service to keep men in a right relationship with God.
4. Loving God with All the Mind
Hand copying Scripture engaged more of the brain than reading alone. Think about how it works in your own life. In simple reading, you primarily use the vision and verbal areas of your brain. (And often, we don’t read, we skim and don’t absorb what we read.) When you hand copy Scripture, you put more of your brain to work than in reading only. That’s desirable, for we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
In hand copying Scripture, you use the parts of your brain that control vision, memory, motor skills, and speech. Your eyes read a phrase in the verse. Your memory stores it. Then your hand writes it down. You are likely to mutter the verse under your breath as you copy it. Muttering is one of the meanings of the Hebrew word for meditating. Some people memorize verses without even trying, simply by writing them out.
While this simple but complex process of hand copying Scripture continues, your spirit is meditating in God’s Word. In the slowness of the hand copying, you are giving your heart valuable time to listen to the Holy Spirit—far more time than when reading only—and you are better able to extract the truth from Scripture. Sometimes the best part is hearing God whispering “between the lines.”
5. Healing Through the Word
More can be gained through hand copying Scriptures than memorization and meditation. Copying the Word provides healing. Years ago, I suffered a severe concussion in an industrial accident on an oil rig. (See The Accident That Transformed My Life.)
Due to the head blow and concussion (it “rang my bell”), I experienced headaches, sensitivity to noises, shooting pains, nightmares, and impaired my ability to think clearly and make decisions. A good friend suggested I start hand copying Scripture four hours a day while I was off work as part of my pathway to healing. I believed the Holy Spirit was behind that suggestion, so I began.
It took a while for the healing to be accomplished, but I thank God that He showed me how to draw life, strength, and health from Him while I meditated in His Word through hand copying Scripture. In fact, I kept on copying after my brain had returned to normal.
My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh. —Proverbs 4:20-22
6. Improving Your Mind
Another significant benefit of hand copying Scripture is improving your mind. Hand copying helps train your mind to be quiet and focus on the subject at hand. All of us need the skill of tuning out distracting thoughts. Hand copying Scripture is a powerful tool toward this end. The more you discipline your mind to stay focused on God, the more you enter His peace.
With a quiet mind before the Lord, it is easier to discern His still, small voice, be guided by His wisdom, and be refreshed in His presence. Scripture handwriting dramatically increases your ability to pray without distracting thoughts because it teaches you to bring every thought into captivity (which is at the heart of spiritual warfare, 2 Corinthians 10:5).
Improving your concentration pays excellent dividends in every area of life, not just prayer. It enhances your ability to think clearly and learn new skills, making you more effective at work and in life. It trains you to receive the Holy Spirit's inspiration, which results in greater creativity. Everybody needs the inspiration of God.
A fresh, new idea can be worth millions of dollars in the corporate world, producing favor with your company, a promotion, and a better income. It could make you a better parent, spouse, and worker in your church.
No wonder God says that meditating in His Word causes us to prosper and have good success. (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:1-3)
7. Drawing Closer to God
As we get to know the Word, we move closer to the divine Author. His presence draws near in tangible ways, and that’s, above all, what we want. We desire the Spirit of the Lord “with” us, abiding in and over our lives. His presence is the key to fulfilling our divine destiny, His plan for our lives.
Hand copying Scripture was a commandment for kings, but it’s voluntary for the rest of us until we realize we depend on the benefits. If Scripture handwriting was good enough for kings, shouldn’t it be good enough for us? We must recognize our responsibility to reign as kings in life (Romans 5:17, 21), first over ourselves and then over those whose care is entrusted to us. We, too, need the wisdom of God.
Out of love for God, shouldn’t we be willing to humble ourselves, carve out time for the Word, come under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and engage all our brains in the things of God? There is no greater joy than sitting in the presence of the Lord and receiving His instruction.
You can practice hand copying Scripture either by writing out a book of the Bible or copying all the verses containing a key word. The handwriting I did focused on the New Testament. I first copied every instance of the word love, but a person could copy a whole book, for example, the Gospel of John. Click for a list of all the verses translated from the word agape in the New King James Version of the Bible. Agape Verse List.
Begin every session with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you through His Word. As you hear God speaking through Scripture, it becomes easier to hear Him whispering and impressing us in daily life. We all have a responsibility to reign as a king, whether it’s over our flesh, a household, a business, a corporation, or a nation. We need the ongoing wisdom of God. Seize the time to meditate like a king. It will enrich your life and that of your children.