Man, as a dependent being, must be possessed of some portion. He cannot live upon himself. It must, however, be not only good, but his own good—something that he may lay claim to as his own. It must also be a large portion, because the powers and capacities to be filled are large. If he has not a satisfying portion, he is a wretched empty creature. But where and how shall he find this portion? "There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord! lift up the light of Your countenance upon us." And then the goodness of the Lord, in having offered Himself as the portion of an unworthy sinner! So that we can now lay claim to Him, as having wholly and fully made Himself over to us, and having engaged to employ His perfections for our happiness! "I will be your God." Surely every good is centered in the chief good—the fountain of all blessings, temporal, spiritual, eternal. What, then, is the folly, madness, and guilt, of the sinner, in choosing his "portion in this life:" as if there were no God on the earth, no way of access to Him, or no happiness to be found in Him? That such madness should be found in the heart of man, is a most affecting illustration of his departure from God. But that God's own "people should commit these two evils—forsaking the fountain of living waters, and hewing out for themselves broken cisterns"—this is the fearful astonishment of heaven itself.
But we cannot know and enjoy God as our portion, except as He has manifested Himself in His dear Son. And in the knowledge and enjoyment of Him, can we envy those who "in their lifetime receive their good things," and therefore have nothing more to expect? Never, indeed, does the poverty of the worldling's portion appear more striking, than when contrasted with the enjoyment of the child of God, "Soul"—said the rich fool, "you have much goods laid up for many years." But God said, "This night your soul shall be required of you." Augustine's prayer was, "Lord, give me Yourself!" And thus the believer exults, "Whom have I in heaven but You? and there is none upon earth that I desire but You. Return unto your rest, O my soul. The Lord Himself is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup. You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord, who has given me counsel."
Elsewhere the believer makes this confession to himself, "The Lord is my portion—says my soul." Here, as if to prove his sincerity, he "lifts up his face unto God." "You are my portion, O Lord." And surely the whole world cannot weigh against the comfort of this Christian confidence. For it is as impossible, that His own people should ever be impoverished, as that His own perfections should molder away. But a portion implies, not a source of ordinary pleasure, but of rest and satisfaction, such as leaves nothing else to be desired. Thus the Lord can never be enjoyed, even by His own children—except as a portion—not only above all, but in the place of all. Other objects indeed may be subordinately loved: but of none but Himself must we say, "He is altogether lovely.""In all things He must have the preeminence"—one with the Father in our affections, as in His own subsistence. The moment that any rival is allowed to usurp the throne of the heart, we open the door to disappointment and unsatisfied desires.
But if we take the Lord as our portion, we must take Him as our king. I have said—this is my deliberate resolution—that I would keep Your words. Here is the Christian complete—taking the Lord as his portion, and His word as his rule. And what energy for holy devotedness flows from the enjoyment of this our heavenly portion! Thus delighting ourselves in the Lord, He gives us our heart's desire; and every desire identifies itself with His service. All that we are and all that we have, are His; cheerfully surrendered as His right, and willingly employed in his work. Thus do we evidence our interest in His salvation; for "Christ became the author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey Him."
Reader! inquire—was my choice of this Divine portion considerate, free, unreserved? Am I resolved that it shall be steadfast and abiding? that death itself shall not separate me from the enjoyment of it? Am I ready to receive a Sovereign as well as a Savior? Oh! let me have a whole Christ for my portion! Oh! let Him have a whole heart for His possession. Oh! let me call nothing mine but Him.
'The heart touched with the loadstone of Divine love: trembling with godly fear, yet still looking towards God by fixed believing—points at the love of election. He who loves may be sure he was loved first. He who chooses God in Christ for his delight and portion, may conclude confidently, that God has chosen him to enjoy Him, and be happy in Him forever.' (Leighton)
"You are my portion, O LORD." A broken expression. The translators have mended it by insertions, but perhaps it had been better to have left it alone, and then it would have appeared as n exclamation—"My portion, O Lord!" The poet's lost in wonder while he sees that the great and glorious God is all his own! Well might he be so, for there is no possession like Jehovah himself. The form of the sentence expresses joyous recognition and appropriation—"My portion, O Jehovah!" David had often seen the prey divided, and heard the victor shouting over it; here he rejoices as one who seizes his share of the spoil; he chooses the Lord to be his part of the treasure. Like the Levites, he took God to be his portion, and left other matters to those who coveted them. This is a large and lasting heritage, for it includes all, and more than all, and it outlasts all; and yet no man chooses it for himself until God has chosen and renewed him. Who that is truly wise could hesitate for a moment when the infinitely blessed God is set before him to be the object of his choice? David leaped at the opportunity, and grasped the priceless blessing. Our author here dares exhibit the title-deeds of his portion before the eye of the Lord himself, for he addresses his joyful utterance directly to God, whom he boldly calls his own. With much else to choose from, for he was a king, and a man of great resources, he deliberately turns from all the treasures of the world, and declares that the Lord, even Jehovah, is his portion.
"I have said that I would keep your words." We cannot always look back with comfort upon what we have said, but in this instance David had spoken wisely and well. He had declared his choice; he preferred the word of God to the wealth of worldlings. It was his firm resolve to keep—that is, treasure up and observe—the words of his God; and as he had aforetime solemnly expressed it in the presence of the Lord himself, so here he confesses the binding obligation of his former vow. Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words," and this is a case which he might have quoted as an illustration; for the Psalmist's love to God as his portion led to his keeping the words of God. David took God to be his Prince as well as his Portion. He was confident as to his interest in God, and therefore he was resolute in his obedience to him. Full assurance is a powerful source of holiness. The very words of God are to be stored up; for whether they relate to doctrine, promise, or precept, they are most precious. When the heart is determined to keep these words, and has registered its purpose in the court of Heaven, it is prepared for all the temptations and trials that may befall it; for, with God as its heritage, it is always in good case.