“You are my portion, O LORD; I have said to keep Your words.” [Psalms 119:57 NKJV]
In Ancient Israel, agricultural lands were the ultimate source of income and wealth of a family, and the patrilineal order assumes the responsibility to conserve the ownership right and validity of tenure of their estates. Upon the death of the patriarchal head, the land is divided into equal parts. Each son is entitled to one portion of the land except for the firstborn (or the preferred first born), who is entitled to a double portion of the inheritance [Deut. 21:17]. Which side of the land belongs to whom was often determined through casting lots.
So, when the psalmist said that the Lord is his portion, he meant that the Lord is the whole of his inheritance, the sum of his possessions, and his ultimate wealth.
To say that God is our portion does not mean that He is just a segment of our lives. God is not a being to whom we allot a fraction of our day – a day that is already swamped with many other concerns. God is not someone we address only in times of turmoil nor only in times of ease.
To declare God as our portion is to know that in Him alone are we sustained. A cliff climber won’t forget even for a second to hold to the only rope that connects him to the top of the cliff.
When the psalmist sang that the LORD is his portion, he meant that the Lord is his most valued treasure.
Indeed, Jesus Christ is the finest of the finest portions [Psalms 16:5-6], but being a Christian does not mean that you will get the best spot in the parking lot. It does not mean that you will place a good job with a good pay, or afford your dream vacation, or get the house and car that you have always wanted. May not the greed in our hearts distort the meaning of the Holy Scriptures. Jesus Himself said that we should guard against covetousness, for our lives is not defined by our possessions [Luke 12:13-15]. Christ is the only treasure worth having. To have Christ as our portion is to receive continually the bountiful grace and mercy that flows from the Father through Him. For because of His sufferings, we have been snatched from the claws of sin and death. He had washed us clean of our iniquities and clothed us with His righteousness. And even now as He sits at the right side of the Father, He intercedes for those that belong to Him that they may not falter nor fall.
In one of his teaching on contentment, C.H. Spurgeon shared:
“I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water, and lifting up her hands, she said, as a blessing, “What?! All this and Christ too?”
What is “all this”, compared to what we deserve?”
Dear reader, may you see that Jesus is all you need; yes, Jesus is all you have!
The psalmist then went on to say “I have said to keep Your words.”
The one thing that had set the Israel apart from all other nations is Yahweh’s Word: His statutes, His promises, His revelations, His judgments [Deut. 27:9-10]. To be the people of God is to be the people of His Word. God’s people are not lawless.
Therefore, if God really is our portion, we will have this resolve within us to obey His commandments [1 John 2:34]. We will take the Scriptures as our wisdom and understanding, our reminder and keeper. It will be our desire to meditate upon God’s truth day and night that we may abide in it. We will be willing to submit ourselves to it and be tested against it.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.Psalm 73:25-26
The LORD is my portion. May your heart be willing to declare it along with your mouth. For those who will fail to see that Christ is the only treasure worth having, and refuse to believe what the Bible reveals about Him, will have a different share – a share in the wrath to come.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
This blog post is based on a sermon preached at Salitran Covenant Bible Church last Lord’s day. You can watch the full sermon (in Tagalog) here.