Jehovah is My Portion

February 8, 2015 / No. 3762

Dear Radio Friends,
Are you content in life? Do you have contentment and satisfaction with your situation? If so, what is it that makes you content? Do you look at the things that you have and say, “I’m content because I have more than enough already, or because I’m healthy and happy”? Or, if you are not content, why not? Is your lack of contentment because you see that other people have things or are able to do things that are not available to you? Are you lacking contentment because of difficult circumstances in your life?
I ask those questions at the beginning of our message today because the confession of the psalmist in the verses that we look at today is a confession of contentment. He says in Psalm 16:5 and 6: “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” What stands out here is his contentment and his satisfaction. And they have nothing to do with the external circumstances of his life. Rather, his contentment is founded on this: Jehovah, the Lord, is his God and his portion.
Paul says in Philippians 4:11: “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Contentment and satisfaction come to the Christian when, by faith, he realizes that God, in His grace, has given him a possession that is spiritual and eternal. That is what we hope to see in these verses today.
Last week we began to look at this beautiful psalm, Psalm 16:2-3, and we noticed a few important truths. First, we saw that our good works can add nothing to God. The psalmist, reflecting on a life of godliness to God, says: “My good extendeth not to Thee.” God is the self-sufficient, immutable God who does not need us. And yet, in the second place, we saw that God does, by His grace, enable us to do good works and to live in a way that pleases Him, not because He needs it, but so that we may be a benefit and service to other believers. My goodness extendeth not to Thee, “but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.” With a love and delight for God and His people, we will willingly serve the other members of the body of Christ. And, third, we noticed that the main voice, the main speaker in this psalm, is not David but Christ. In the last verses of the psalm that is very obvious. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Those words are prophetic of the resurrection of Christ. Jesus says these words. And, in connection with verses 2 and 3, we saw His grace. He says to God, when He comes into this world to save His people, “I am not doing this because You, Lord, need this, but I am doing it for the saints in the earth in whom is all my delight.” God does not need us. And yet, in His love and grace, He comes to save and deliver us from sin and to bring us into the joy of covenant life and friendship with Himself.
And, today, we are going to look at verses 5 and 6, in which David expresses the joy and satisfaction of the child of God who is in communion and fellowship with God. In verse 4, the intervening verse, the psalmist tells us that fellowship with God means enmity with the world. They are mutually exclusive. As Jesus says, “Ye cannot serve two masters. You will always hate the one and love the other.” You cannot be the friend of God and the friend of the world. And so David says, “My delight,” verse 3, “is in the people of God. I will not take up into my lips the names of a strange god and I will not participate with the world in hastening after another god” (v. 4). Instead, verse 5: “The Lord [Jehovah] is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup.”
As we look at verses 5 and 6, we see on the foreground the idea of an inheritance. “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance…thou maintainest my lot.” A lot is something that is allotted or distributed to you. “The lines,” that is, the boundary lines on a piece of property, “are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage,” again the idea of an inheritance.
This is a beautiful and a rich biblical picture of what God’s people receive from Him in the gracious gift of salvation. An inheritance is something valuable that is gifted to you from another. It is not something that you deserve or have earned. But it points to the grace, the undeserved grace, of God in salvation.
In the Old Testament, we find this idea of the inheritance to be very prominent. When Israel came into Canaan, they received the inheritance of the Lord. Each family was given a portion or piece of land in Canaan. And they were very jealous to keep that inheritance in their family. In fact, if they had to sell it to pay off their debt, then at the end of the year of Jubilee, it had to be returned to them again. That was significant because Canaan was an earthly picture of heaven, what Hebrews 11 calls “the city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” And the portion that an Israelite received in Canaan was a picture of his belonging to the people of God. It was a promise to him of his place with God in glory. So, when the psalmist speaks of his inheritance here, he has in mind his spiritual and eternal inheritance.
Now David could have been, and of course was, thankful for his earthly inheritance. He would have had a right to a portion of his father’s land. As king, David inherited Judah and Jerusalem, and, indeed, all of Israel, through the conquests of all of Canaan. And also, in a sense, he inherited the whole nation of Israel, the people, over whom he was made king. But David realizes that all these are but a picture of the real treasures that he has that are spiritual and eternal. And so, in the last verse of the psalm, he speaks of “fulness of joy” and “pleasures for evermore” at God’s right hand. Like Abraham, he had his eye fixed on his eternal inheritance.
Now, when we come to the New Testament, we see this idea of inheritance again. But it is not applied to Canaan, or an earthly inheritance, rather it is the eternal and spiritual inheritance of salvation and the kingdom of heaven. For example, in Matthew 5:3, Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Or, again, in Ephesians 1:11: “In whom [that is, in Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance.” And then in verse 14 we read that the Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, giving the idea that we have a part of our inheritance already. Then, verse 18 speaks of the “riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” So, in Christ we have an amazing and a rich inheritance.
Then, if we turn to I Peter 1:3, 4, we read that we are born again “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” So, our inheritance is eternal and spiritual.
Now, going back to Psalm 16, we ask, What is that inheritance? What does David say? He says the most astounding thing. He does not say that Canaan is his inheritance, nor Jerusalem, nor even heaven or salvation or his resurrection body, of which he speaks later in the psalm. But this: “The Lord [Jehovah[ is the portion of mine inheritance.” He means that the substance and essence of his inheritance is God Himself. He means that God is given to him. And notice, he does not say, “I belong to God,” though that is true. But God belongs to me. He is my portion and my inheritance. In salvation, God Himself comes and gives Himself to His people. What a beautiful and rich idea!
Now, what does that mean? It means, first of all, that salvation is a relationship, that salvation is God taking us into the relationship of covenant with Himself. Covenant is the biblical idea for relationship. So, the Bible describes the relationship of God with His people in terms of marriage, which is the closest and most intimate friendship, or in terms of the family, where God is our heavenly Father and we are His dear children. Those are the ideas that David has in mind here. The Lord is my portion. He gives Himself to me. In the Song of Solomon: “My beloved is mine, and I am his, and his banner over me is love.” God is mine. He is my Father. He is my Savior. He is my Redeemer. He is my all. The Lord is my portion. There is tenderness there, relationship, in those words. He is not a father who is distant from his children, a father who is never home and instead sends gifts to his children to try to show his love to them. And the children think, “I don’t want the gifts, father. I want you.” God is not that kind of a father. He enters into family-relationship with His people.
And that is the importance in the text of the name “Lord,” in capital letters, or “Jehovah,” in the original Hebrew. That is the name of God’s covenant love and faithfulness to His people.
The psalmist rejoices in this. “The Lord, Jehovah, is my portion and my inheritance!” Is that true for you? Do you believe that, as a Christian? It is quite staggering for us to think about, is it not? God Himself is mine. And yet, that is His promise in His Word to me as one of His children. He is not going to give me just things to show me His love. He is going to give me Himself. A young man asks the hand of his girl friend in marriage and she says, “Yes.” And he rejoices. She’s mine. She is giving herself to me. And in salvation, that is what Jehovah has done to His people—He has given Himself to them.
How does He do that to me as a Christian? How does God become my portion? He does that first in Jesus Christ. What does Jesus do? Paul says in Galatians 2: He loved me and gave Himself for me. In that statement, Paul has in view His giving, sacrificial death on the cross—His dying as my substitute to bear the wrath of God against my sin. This is how God gives Himself for me. He becomes my Savior. And the death of Jesus Christ for me gives me the legal right to every spiritual and eternal blessing in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus secured my inheritance for me. David has that in mind as he writes here. Peter says in Acts 2 that, as David wrote this psalm, he knew the promise of God that of his flesh God “would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.” And that is why David wrote this psalm. God gave David a great inheritance by giving him Jesus Christ from his loins to be his Savior and his Lord.
Second, God becomes my portion in this life by giving me the Holy Spirit. This is a beautiful idea because it means that my inheritance is not something that I have to wait to enjoy, but rather, it is something that I possess already and enjoy already in this present world. The Holy Spirit is called in Scripture “the earnest of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14). By giving us the Holy Spirit, God gives to us already in this life the experience of some of the heavenly joys that we will have in the future—freedom from sin, for example. He changes our sinful inclinations and desires so that, with the Spirit, we are fruitful Christians. We have love and joy and peace and patience and long-suffering and so on—things not natural to our experience as sinners.
That is the beginning of heaven, is it not? That is our inheritance. And by the Holy Spirit God also changes my life and my perspective so that I am not grounded in time and the things of this earth, but rather, I live by faith and as a creature of hope, with my eyes on God and glory. He creates in me a heart that seeks after the things above. That is your experience as a believer of the heavenly and the eternal and spiritual inheritance. And that is created in you by the Holy Spirit, who is the earnest of our inheritance.
And then, third, I would say this, that as our portion God gives us all things. Our inheritance includes everything in heaven and in earth. Now, that does not mean that everything comes into our possession. But it does mean that the sovereign Lord over all things, who has given Himself to me, rules all things and directs them for my profit as His child. The Lord, who is our inheritance, is the God of sovereign providence, and He works everything in history for His people. In II Corinthians 4:15 Paul says, “For all things are for you sakes.” Or, in Romans 8: “All things work together for good to them who love God.”
And that means, too, in the fourth place, that our inheritance is secure. In Psalm 16: “thou maintainest my lot.” Sometimes a tenant has to take care of the property in which he lives. Or sometimes someone who has an inheritance has it in trust, which means that it is in the care of somebody else. But our inheritance is secure in the hand of God Himself. We have an inheritance incorruptible, that fades not away. And we are kept by the power of God through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time (I Pet. 1:4, 5). God Himself, who is eternal and who binds Himself to His people in Jesus Christ and who, because of His eternal, unchanging love in election, will keep and preserve us and our inheritance to eternity. The security of our salvation rests not in ourselves or in something that we have done, but in the God who has saved us, who has given us the Holy Spirit, who has given us His Son, and who is faithful and whose promises in grace are eternal and unfailing. The Lord is the portion of my inheritance. Thou maintainest my lot.
Well, as a child of God, if you know and confess that, it will produce in you contentment, contentment in your life. And that really is what David is expressing in verse 6 when he says: “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” He looks at what God has given him and he says, “I couldn’t wish for anything else. There is nothing better.” He is satisfied in God with his spiritual and eternal inheritance.
And that is contentment. To say, “I’m happy, whatever my situation, whatever the Lord has given, or whatever the Lord has kept back from me. This is a Christian grace. It is not tied to our earthly lot, but it is given by the Holy Spirit, who causes us to see and enjoy and long for things spiritual. Contentment is not something based on possessions or pleasure or clothing or health or your relationships in marriage or your job or how much money or wealth you might have. But, as Paul puts it, “In whatsoever state I am, I have learned therewith to be content.” Contentment is to receive what you have from the Lord, to be thankful for it, to be glad and to rejoice. Habakkuk says, “Though the fig tree shall not blossom, though there be no herd in the stall, yet will I rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Contentment is realizing that my peace is not tied to an earthly portion but to my heavenly inheritance, to the fact that God Jehovah Himself has given Himself to me. That ought to lift my heart in praise and gratitude to God. If you struggle with contentment as a Christian, this is what you must remember.
David expresses that in two other words in verse 5 when he says that God is his portion and his cup. He gives us here the imagery of a sumptuous feast. Imagine sitting down at a king’s table like Joseph’s brothers did in Egypt, and a portion of food is given to each, a sumptuous feast. And the wine is poured out in abundance. As a guest you feel honored and you eat and you drink and you are full. That is how the Lord is described here to us—as our portion and our cup—who satisfies us to overflowing so that we are grateful and thankful and so content.
That means that we can let go of earthly things. Martin Luther wrote: “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still.” Can you say that? If you can, that is contentment.
And so, in conclusion, I want to encourage you as a child of God to make the Lord your portion, to find your pleasure and your fullness in Him. Nothing else in life can satisfy. We find our fullness in God by looking at ourselves and our emptiness, by sorrowing over sin, by repenting of our worldlimindedness, by not making a god and an idol of the things of this world, by coming in faith to Jesus Christ, in whom are found all the riches of salvation. Then we find our delight in the Word of God. We find our delight (v. 3), in the people of God. And in that we find contentment. You see, contentment is not only negative so that you say, “I’ve learned not to covet. I’ve learned not to want things that I don’t have.” And you have a fatalistic perspective on your life: “I can’t change it anyway.” No, contentment is finding your fullness and your satisfaction in the Lord.
May God give to you to be able to say with David the psalmist, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup. Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”
Let us pray.
Father, give us to know Thy covenant love and communion and to find our fullness in Thee. We pray it for Jesus’ sake, Amen.