Psalm 119: Heth

Do me a favor and please read Psalm 119:57-64

The psalmist declares that BECAUSE God is their “portion” – they seek the mercy of God. Because they have sought his Word, his Law, his face, and his commands they desire God’s relentless grace to flow down upon them. So let me ask: Is God your portion? Maybe we need to ask what IS “portion” and what portion even mean?

Depending on what translation you have most of them simply say “portion” and leave it at that however there are some translations, like the NET Bible, that put it as a “source of security.” So to say that the Lord is your portion means that he is your security, your peace, and your comfort. But this Hebrew word also has to do with inheritance – and while frequently used in the Old Testament towards land it DEFINITELY works for the people of God as well (especially in an Old Testament concept).

Let me see if I can break this down as it makes sense in my head on how portion and inheritance (with land) and how it works(which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make sense in yours):

  • Whose land is everything? The Lord’s and he disperses it as he sees fit (see Genesis 1 and the Creation account)
  • The land given to the 12 tribes of Israel, which was not their land originally, was given to them by God in Joshua 13-21 (they inherited it from Him).
  • The land is the covenant promise of God thus to inherit your portion is to be given what God promised to you as your possession. And what did land do? It comforted you, gave you a promised future, gave you a feeling of security, and promised you that you will have a future (to have nothing was to state that you had no future at all).

In Psalm 73:26 we read, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” So for the people, and in their relationship with God, portion took on a new understanding – but this one became spiritual. If the land provided a future, if the land was your safety, and if it was God who gave it to you – then HE TOO became your portion as He is your safety, your future, your comfort, and your peace. So here, the word has moved from land, safety, inheritance, future, and need…to safety, future, need, and that God is the provider (ie, he’s your portion). It’s what he promised to Aaron and his sons in Numbers 18:20, the psalmist also declares it in Psalm 16:5, and the writer in Lamentations 3:24 finds comfort, in their lament, that God is their everything thus they will hope in him.

So let me ask again: Is God your portion? Is God your everything? Is God your future and your presence – your “prize”? If everything was taken away from you and all that remained in your life was God’s hand on your head, his name on your soul, his word in your heart, and his promise for your eternal life-to-come – would that be more than enough? Because this, ultimately, is where the psalmist is at in their life. They seek to follow, abide, and turn to God day and night. That should all their things be taken away, should the “wicked bind” them with ropes (vs 61), God’s law will still be on their lips. A Law that would give them peace, comfort, and hope.

As an American, and a “privileged” one (I have an intact family, with a good job, home, cars, money, and all my needs provided for), it’s really hard to imagine a life without all my stuff – and yet it’s equally as hard to imagine a life without God. I think it’s the American way of life to declare that even if God were to turn away, at least I have my stuff and that will at least provide me comforts today and tomorrow. But will it? Believers in God affirm that he is our everything and that life isn’t life if he’s not in it. I may be able to take comfort in my stuff but when I die my stuff becomes useless. That which I have on earth cannot go with me to God. We must realize the line, “He who dies with the most stuff…still dies.” And ultimately, the Christian declares that our portion MUST be God because without him WE HAVE NO FUTURE. We HAVE no inheritance. We HAVE no comfort.

We need to go back to the Numbers 18:20 text to fully live into the truth that God is our portion. As God is talking to Aaron, his priest for the people, he’s declaring to him that you won’t have the riches and joys of this earth – instead you will have the riches and joys that are eternal: Him. And why are we coming back to this text? Because this is the promise handed down to Believers of Jesus Christ. Because we must recognize that as inheritance of eternity, as adopted children of God (by the blood of Jesus) (Ephesians 1:5) WE TOO are made into a kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:9) and OUR inheritance is the very same one given to Aaron.

So bring on God as my portion! I may struggle with the things I have on earth but I know they will not last and they will not give me peace and comfort. Only Christ will. Only God has.

3 QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CHEW-ON:

  • What in this psalm speaks to you? Where are you drawn? Why?
  • What are the important things in your life – and how would you live if it all was taken away (not as bad as a “Job” life – but something similar).
  • It seems that when times are hard, life is hard, we have a tendency to turn to God in a negative way (angrily and blaming). Can God still be our portion and yet the focus of our anger?

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