Mnemonics for The 10 Commandments

 Learn these memory tips to help you quickly learn The 10 Commandments!

These simple mnemonic devices, or memory aids, will help your students learn The 10 Commandments according to Luther's Small Catechism.  

If your church body numbers the commandments differently (most Reformed churches and Anglican will differ from the numbering presented below), you can still use this method! Just follow the "alternate" memorization pattern.

The 10 Commandments and the Rhyming Method

First you will need to learn the rhyming scheme for the numbers one to ten. Since they rhyme, you will quickly learn the rhyme:
  • One, "bun"
  • Two, "shoe"
  • Three, "tree"
  • Four, "pour"
  • Five, "hive"
  • Six, "sticks"
  • Seven, "heaven"
  • Eight, "gate"
  • Nine, "sign"
  • Ten, "hen"

You may also wish to come up with your own rhyming scheme if you feel a better association would go with the number rhyme. 

Associate the number to the visual item listed below. The numerical list and the associated image rhyme. So, when you hear ‘one’ think ‘bun’. Next associate, in your mind’s eye, the visual symbol corresponding to the number to Commandment you are learning from The 10 Commandments.

For example, 1 = Bun. Now associate in your mind, that is clearly picture in your imagination, a huge false idol wrapped in a huge hot dog bun! This will remind you that the first commandment is "You shall have no other gods."

Rhyming Scheme and Symbols for The 10 Commandments

1 – Bun

Imagine a hot dog bun to a false god in some silly way. "You Shall Have No Other Gods." For instance, you could imagine Zeus popping out of a hot dog bun.

Alternate: None Needed.

2 – Shoe

Imagine a shoe shooting out of your mouth. "You Shall Not Misuse the Name of the LORD..."

Alternate: Imagine an idol associated to a shoe. "You shall not make for yourself an idol."

3 – Tree

Imagine a huge tree growing inside of the church. "Remember the Sabbath day to Keep it Holy."

Alternate: Imagine a tree shooting out of your mouth. "You Shall Not Misuse the Name of the LORD..."

4 – Door

Imagine opening the door and hitting your Mom and Dad by accident! "Honor Your Father and Your Mother."

Alternate: Imagine thousands of doors marching into church. "Remember the Sabbath day..."

5 – Hive (Bees)

Imagine thousands of bees attacking a man. "You Shall Not Murder."

Alternate: Imagine your Mom and Dad running away from a huge storm of stinging bees. "Honor Your Father and Your Mother."

6 – Bricks

Imagine two huge bricks lying in bed. "You Shall Not Commit Adultery."

Alternate: Imagine a thug trying to strike you on the head with a brick. "You Shall Not Murder."

7 - Heaven

Imagine a thief trying to sneak into heaven to steal a bag of gold. "You Shall Not Steal."

Alternate: Imagine clouds (heaven) filling your bedroom. "You Shall Not Commit Adultery."

8 – Skate

Imagine skating around your next door neighbors, telling lies about them. "You Shall Not Bear False Witness..."

Alternate: Imagine a thief in an ice rink skating. "You Shall Not Steal."

9 – Line

Imagine painting a huge black line down your neighbor’s house. "You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbors House."

Alternate: Imaging friends gossiping and you paint a black line across their mouths. "You Shall Not Bear False Witness."

10 – Hen

Imagine you go to the store and greatly covet having a hundred hens. "You Shall Not Covet..."

Alternate: None Needed.

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Memory and the Sacraments 

According to Aristotle, man thinks in terms of visual images, and his memory is prompted or "cued," by signs and symbols. If this is true, visible images, such as the rainbow, would trigger man's memory of God’s covenant and mercy. Luther also comments regarding the value of the physical sign of the Sacrament of Baptism, “Certainly, it should and must be external so that the senses can perceive and grasp it and it thus can be brought into the heart.” As created beings, God has chosen to work through physical means, namely the Sacraments.

While the Sacraments are most certainly not only symbols but efficacious means of grace, God in His loving condescension to man’s physicality has given the gift of a physical, visible sacrament that can be grasped by man’s senses. For example, in witnessing another’s baptism, we recall (our memories are "cued" by this outward sign) our own baptism and its meaning. We are told explicitly by Jesus Christ that the Sacrament of His body and blood is to bring us into remembrance of Himself: “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:25).

Circumcision Brings to Remembrance 

In the Old Testament, the Sacrament of circumcision was a sign cut into the flesh that would certainly bring the covenant Hebrew into remembrance. Circumcision was a sign that could not be overlooked and was seen daily – it was a sign that became part of the man receiving it. Through this mark of circumcision, the Hebrew was daily brought to remembrance by a permanent outward symbol that cued his memory of God’s covenant with him.

Ceremonial Laws Bring God into Memory 

The Hebrews used other God-appointed means to prompt their memory of God's word. One such method was for the Hebrew to weave tassels into their clothes. “And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined” (Num.15:39).

Ritual Sacrifice Reminds of God's Covenant Of course the ritual actions of sacrifice and the Hebrew religious festivals, especially the Passover, would prompt their memory of God’s "hesed" to His covenant people. Morris notes, “Throughout his life, from birth to death, the Jew was surrounded by an endless succession of sign and symbol ceaselessly exhorting him ‘to remember.' ”

Memory Looks Forward to the Messiah 

The last mention of remembrance is given in Malachi 4:4-6. In this text, memory both looks back and forward to the coming of the Messiah. “Remember the law of Moses. … Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children …”

Improve Your Memory for Bible Verses, Facts and More!

Be sure to pick up your copy of Memorize the Bible! The Comprehensive Guide to Memorizing Bible Verses, Facts and More! 

This amazing book you will learn how to memorize anything you want from the Bible with powerful and fun memory techniques!
Boost Your Bible Memorization Program with the following Easy 7 Tips on Memory Verses!
Remembrance in the Old Testament

How important is remembrance and not forgetting in Scripture? In the Old Testament, memory for the Israelites was essential as are the Sacraments.

"To remember" occurs in the Old Testament 232 times. This may seem insignificant, but "remembering" occurs in .96% of all verses in the Old Testament. While I will not argue that word occurrence determines the weight of topics in Scripture, the idea of remembrance is an idea the Biblical writers placed emphasis upon and did so frequently.

Forget Not! 

To further illustrate the importance of remembrance, one only needs to look to the antithesis of memory – forgetting. The Hebrews were repeatedly exhorted to "not forget" the Lord or the doctrine of the Torah. The Hebrew word most commonly translated “forget” or “forgot” occurs 102 times or in .41% of all the verses of OT Scripture. Together with “remember,” the topic of “remembrance” occurs in 1.37% of all OT Scripture.

To put these statistics into context, the term for "covenant" in Hebrew occurs 284 times, compromising 1.14% of OT Scripture. “To remember” and “to forget” are important, repetitive themes in OT Scripture.

Psalms Call to Remembrance 

 I would argue that the faithful Hebrew was called to remembrance very frequently – perhaps as frequently as the Psalms were sung, chanted or meditated upon. The Psalmist took special notice of both remembering and not forgetting by his frequent repetition of these words 83 times in the Book of Psalms. “I will delight myself in your statues; I will not forget your word” (Ps. 119:16). I believe it is for this reason, in part, that the Jewish schools developed such a rigorous devotion to "learn by heart" the Scriptures.

Remembrance Begins with God 

 It is of important note that the first act of remembrance in Scripture does not begin with man, but rather with God remembering man, “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided” (Gen. 8:1).

The Rainbow 

In God’s mercy to man after the flood, He did not create an invisible “spiritual” sign, but a physical reminder to man that could be visually grasped of an intangible covenant, “… and I will remember my covenant which is between Me and you. …The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant …”(Gen. 9:15a, 16a).

While the text states that the rainbow is to "remind" God, the sign of this covenant is meant for our benefit as God “… will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them” (Dt.4:31). God’s remembrance is assured, although at times it may feel, according to difficult circumstances, that the Lord has forgotten His covenant people as is found in various places in Scripture. But it is in faith that we have this assurance, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you” (Is.49:15).

The Word of God Written on the Heart 

Why was there such an emphasis on remembrance? For the Hebrew, it was not an act of "parroting" Scripture, but in remembrance of the works of the Lord for His people in history so they would not slip into apostasy. In remembrance of the Words and works of God, the faith was passed onto the next generation, “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Dt. 4:9).

Improve Your Memory for Bible Verses, Facts and More!

Be sure to pick up your copy of Memorize the Bible! The Comprehensive Guide to Memorizing Bible Verses, Facts and More! 

This amazing book you will learn how to memorize anything you want from the Bible with powerful and fun memory techniques!
Martin Luther and the Art of Memory

While Luther himself may not have employed the artificial memory or recommended it to his students, he was certainly aware of it and used many of the time tested methods popularized in various treatises of memory through the ages.

Luther's Knowledge of the Art of Memory

Luther’s familiarity with the ‘art of memory’ can be proven by his familiarity with Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria, a first century book on rhetoric that included a prominent section on artificial memory. Luther cites Quintilian’s work in several of his writings, most prominent are Against Latomus and The Bondage of the Will.

It is in The Bondage of the Will that Luther shows himself familiar with Quintilian’s rules for memory, “Suppose Quintilian, proposing to write about oratory, were to say: “In my judgment, that stupid and superfluous stuff about choice of subject, arrangement of material, style, memorization [emphasis mine], delivery, ought to be omitted…”

Martin Luther's Amazing Memory

Luther himself was noted to have a tremendous memory as evidenced by his knowledge of Scripture and the classics. In the Preface of Luther’s commentary on Genesis we read, “Luther had an astonishingly retentive memory, as his Biblical quotations show. He had also read around in the classics and knew some classical works almost by heart.”

By Luther’s own account, he states that he had much of Scripture memorized, “I had then already read and taught the sacred Scriptures most diligently privately and publicly for seven years, so that I knew them nearly all by memory.”

Good Memory Necessary for Preachers

In discussing the necessary qualities of a preacher, Luther declares, “The person who wishes to preach needs to have a good voice, good eloquence, a good memory [emphasis mine] and other natural gifts; whoever does not have these should properly keep still and let somebody else speak.”

Luther on Memory Work

Luther also follows the Jewish and Medieval practice of having students cite their memory work individually after having learned it in a group setting, “This order should be followed: The schoolmaster shall have the whole division come up for recitation, asking each pupil in turn to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments.”

Luther continues on and advises the memorization of a few easy Psalms for students, “Furthermore the teachers should ask the pupils to memorize a number of easy Psalms that contain in themselves a summary of the Christian life and speak about the fear of God, faith and good works…”


  • Arand, Charles P., That I May Be His Own. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2000.
  • Luther, Martin: Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan (Hrsg.) ; Oswald, Hilton C. (Hrsg.) ; Lehmann, Helmut T. (Hrsg.): Luther's Works, Vol. 32 : Career of the Reformer II. Philadelphia : Fortress Press, 1999.
  • ________.Luther's Works, Vol. 33 : Career of the Reformer III.
  • ________.Luther's Works, Vol. 1 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5.
  • ________.Luther's Works, Vol. 34 : Career of the Reformer IV.
  • ________.Luther's Works, Vol. 36 : Word and Sacrament II.
  • ________.Luther's Works, Vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II.

Improve Your Memory for Bible Verses, Facts and More!

Be sure to pick up your copy of Memorize the Bible! The Comprehensive Guide to Memorizing Bible Verses, Facts and More! 

This amazing book you will learn how to memorize anything you want from the Bible with powerful and fun memory techniques!