The Lord is My Portion | Psalm 119:57-64

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  • The Lord is My Portion | Psalm 119:57-64
  • The stanza begins with a testimony: “The Lord is my portion.” “Portion” refers to a personal inheritance, acquired possession, or great endowment. It is a real estate term. The Lord used the term to explain why the priestly tribe of Levi would not receive property or possessions in the promised land of Canaan. Numbers 18:20 says, “And the Lord said to Aaron, ‘You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.’” Joshua 13:33 says, “But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance just as he said to them.” 

     We do not know if the author of this psalm was a priest or Levite. But he was a man who was satisfied with the sufficiency of God. He testifies, “The Lord is my portion.” This testimony is not unique. Psalm 73:25-26 says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire beside you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” Jeremiah 10:16 says, “Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance, and the Lord of hosts is his name.” Lamentations 3:24 says, “’The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”

    In a real sense, the previous eight stanzas of this psalm have led up to this testimony: “The Lord is my portion.” The psalmist’s portion was the Lord, not land. God was the source of his supply. He found all that was necessary for life in God. This is the testimony of every devoted follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to hewn glory and excellence.” 

    The Lord is everything you need. Herbert Lockyer wrote: “He is all-sufficient in any circumstance that may arise, having infinite wisdom to direct, infinite grace to sustain, infinite power to protect, and infinite love to care and comfort.” This is the testimony of the psalmist. Is this your testimony? If it is, it will be the testimony of your life and your lips. Here are four marks of a life that is satisfied with God. 

    Spiritual Devotion 

      The spiritual devotion of the psalmist is expressed by his pursuit and prayer. 

      The Pursuit of Holiness. Verse 57 records a testimony and a promise: “The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words.”The Living Bible paraphrases: “Jehovah is mine! And I promise to obey!” You cannot pursue holiness if you seek satisfaction in something outside of God. This is why many are unwilling to make or unable to keep promises to God. We look for satisfaction in the wrong places, people, and things. Pursuing satisfaction from the world results in a life dominated by sin, iniquity, and transgression. 

        • To keep God’s word, find satisfaction in God alone. 
        • True obedience is the result of godly satisfaction. 
        • The Lord must be your portion to keep his word. 

        The order of this verse is significant. Satisfaction in the person of God comes before obedience to the precepts of God. The psalmist did not promise to keep God’s word that the Lord would become his portion. He was not trying to do something for God; he was trying to get something from God. He did not pledge obedience because he sought to acquire grace. The sovereign grace of the all-sufficient God was already his. He promised to keep God’s word from this blessed position of salvation, security, and satisfaction. Pursuing holiness is not a legal requirement for enjoying God’s blessings. John 15:13 says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 

        The Prayer for Help. Verse 58 says, “I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.”We cannot keep the word by sincerity, willpower, or determination. We need God’s help. God is all-sufficient, but we are not. We access God’s help through prayer. 

        A prayer for God’s presence. Verse 58 says, “I entreat your favor with all my heart.” “Favor” is translated “face” over 400 times in the Old Testament. To live in the favor of God is to live face-to-face with God. The psalmist pleaded wholeheartedly for God’s favor on his life, which was the only way he could keep God’s word. And you need divine help to live obediently. Numbers 6:24-26 says, “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

        A prayer for God’s pardon. Verse 58 says, “I entreat your favor with all my heart, be gracious to me according to your promise.” The psalmist prayed for the favorable presence of God to help him be faithful in obedience. He also prayed for the gracious pardon of God to help him when he failed to be obedient. This prayer for grace is not presumptuous. He had no claim on God except for the word. Herbert Lockyer wrote: “God is made our voluntary debtor by his promises.” The psalmist prayed that God would be gracious to him according to his word. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

        Humble Repentance 

          When the Lord is your portion, there will be spiritual devotion and humble repentance. What does it mean to repent?

          Change your mind. Verse 59 says, “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.” The psalmist thought about his ways – his choices, behavior, and habits. 

            • Do you think of your ways? 
            • Do you consider your steps? 
            • Do you examine your life? 

            God allows trials to cause us to think on our ways. When all is well, we may neglect what matters the most. Carrying burdens, enduring suffering, and facing persecution cause us to think on our ways. It was not until the Prodigal Son lost everything in the far country that he came to himself. As the psalmist examined his life, he saw that he was going in the wrong direction. So he made a U-turn in his life. He turned his feet to God’s word. The word of God is sufficient to lead you on the right path. Scripture does not give turn-by-turn GPS directions. It posts signs to help you know you are going in the right direction. 

            Change your ways. Verse 59 says, “When I think of my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.” The penitence of the psalmist changes his mind and guides his feet. Repentance begins with a change of mind. It does not end there. True repentance begins with a change of mind and continues with a change of ways. Repentance is not merely being sorry for your sins. It is being sorry enough to quit. Repentance that does not change your ways is not repentance. It is only regret or remorse. 

            • Regret is when you acknowledge you have done wrong. 
            • Remorse is when you lament over your wrongdoing. 
            • Repentance is when you turn from wrong to right. 

            Regret made the Prodigal Son come to himself. Remorse made the Prodigal Son lament that he was starving while his father’s servants had food to spare. Repentance made the Prodigal Son get up and go home to his father. 

            Change your attitude. Verse 60 says, “I hasten and do not delay to keep your attitudes.” This verse teaches that repentance will not only change your mind and ways; it will also change your attitude toward the word of God. In verse 59, the psalmist acknowledged a time when he went in the wrong direction. Now he is determined to keep the commandments of God. His attitude toward time clearly shows this firm commitment to personal obedience: “I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.” In both positive and negative terms, the psalmist makes it clear that he was determined to obey God. He knew that delayed obedience was disobedience. Disobedience is always a waste of time. Get in a hurry to keep God’s word. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Speed in repentance and speed in obedience are two excellent things. We are too often in haste to sin; O that we may be in greater hurry to obey.” 

            Steadfast Confidence

              Why should you put your confidence in God? 

              God is worthy of your trust. Verse 61 says, “Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law.” Up to this point, the psalmist described his affliction as verbal and emotional abuse. His description becomes more graphic: “The cords of the wicked ensnare me.” It is a metaphor for the trap of the hunter. He speaks as one hunted, captured, and ensnared by malicious schemes and wicked deeds. He was trapped, bound, and robbed by his enemies. Yet he maintained his godly confidence. Amidst the traps, he did not forget God’s word. The cords of the wicked ensnared his flesh, not his faith. Despite his enemies, he was determined to remember God’s word. Psalm 119:110 says, “The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray away from your precepts. With confidence in God, the psalmist was determined to trust and obey. 

                A pilot had trouble landing his plane. The control tower gave him instructions. “But there is a pole there,” he objected. The answer came back, “You take care of the instructions; we will take care of the obstructions. Likewise, the word of God is our instructions. Your job is to obey God’s commands. God will take care of the obstructions. 

                God is worthy of your praise. Psalm 119 repeatedly affirms the essential connection between worship and the word. Verse 7 says, “I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.” Verse 12 says, “Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes.” Now verse 62 says, “At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules.” God people do not love to praise the Lord but hate to study the word of God. They do not find scripture enjoyable, but worship is boring. Godly people have a devotion to the word of God that moves them to praise the Lord. The more they pray, the more they desire to know God better. The psalmist was a passionate worshiper who deemed praise more refreshing than sleep. 

                • When he praised the Lord: “At midnight I rise to praise you.”
                • Why he praised the Lord: Because of your righteous rules.” 

                Some find it too much of an inconvenience to praise the Lord on Sunday morning. In a dark, lonely, fearful, restless, and inconvenient time, the psalmist got out of bed to praise God. This late-night praise break reminds us that God is worthy of praise in every season and situation. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God.” “Continually” means “through it all.” We should praise God through it all because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. 

                Godly Fellowship 

                   Satisfaction with God is characterized by holy fellowship with God and others.

                  Fellowship with others. Verse 63 says, “I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts.” Godly people need fellowship. You cannot make this journey by yourself. You need godly friends, companions, and partners. Satisfaction with God is hindered if it is not reinforced by godly fellowship. 1 Timothy 3:15 calls the church “a pillar and buttress of the truth.” The pillar and buttress hold up the building. If the pillar falls and the foundation gives, the structure will not stand. The church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. Truth cannot stand in our lives without the stabilizing power of the body-life of the church. 

                    Verse 63 says, “I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts.” Consider the inverse of this statement: “I am not a companion of anyone who does not fear you or does not keep your precepts.” Association brings assimilation. The psalmist determined to avoid anyone who was not committed to the word. This is not an excuse to disconnect from lost people. It warns us that it is easier for someone to pull you down than for you to pull them up.

                    Be careful not to allow relationships with ungodly people to soften your biblical convictions and commitments. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” Godly people attract godly people. This is the basis of spiritual unity. Race, class, and gender issues cannot divide a church that is united in the fear of God. Who are the people in your life who encourage you to obey the word of God?

                    Fellowship with God. Verse 64 says, “The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love.” “Steadfast love” affirms God’s love is unchanging, unconditional, and unending. God does not change his mind about us, when we change our minds about him. God’s love is loyal. The psalmist did not just see the loyal love of God at work in his own life. He said, “The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love.” This is the perspective of the soul that is satisfied with God. 

                    Isaiah 6:3 says angels sing: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”This is proper angel talk. Angels view God primarily in terms of his holiness. From that perspective, angels declare the whole earth is full of his glory. But angels cannot sing the song of the psalmist. When the angels rebelled against God, the Lord banished them from heaven. He never did anything to redeem them. When humanity rebelled, the loyal love of God sent his only begotten Son into the world to die on the cross to pay for our sins. We have a song that angels cannot sing: “The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love.” When your sins are forgiven, you see the love of God everywhere you look!

                     Verse 64 says, “The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!” Notice how the psalmist ends this stanza. The Lord was his portion. He was totally satisfied with God. The final evidence that he was satisfied with God was that he was not satisfied with himself. That God was his all-in-all is seen in his recognition that he was not all he should be. If the Lord is your portion, your prayer will be, “Teach me your statutes.”  


                    H.B. Charles Jr.

                    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.