God, the Portion of His People!
William Nicholson, 1862
"The Lord is the portion of my inheritance!" Psalm 16:5.
See also Psalm 73:26; 119:57; 142:5; Jeremiah 51:19.
This passage describes the wealth and happiness of believers; and in that respect, their infinitely superior state to that of the wicked.
Portion, or Inheritance, as the word is read, Genesis 31:14; 1 Kings 12:16; is a Metaphor taken from earthly portions, or inheritance, which may be considered as follows:
1. Its Nature.
2. Its Extent.
3. Its Qualities.
4. Its Usefulness.
Under these considerations, it affords matter for the following Parallel.
I. A Portion or Inheritance, is a Gift.
So God has given himself to be their Portion forever, Lam. 3:24. When he becomes their portion, he makes them partakers of the Divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4; and gives them his Holy Spirit, Acts 5:32.
II. A portion or inheritance promotes the honor and interest of the receiver; it raises his dignity, and frees from contempt.
God, as the portion of his people, promotes their honor and interest, for he makes them kings, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ! Romans 8:17; Psalm 45:16; Revelation 5:10. They are free from that contempt which the Scriptures cast upon the ungodly, Revelation 3:18, as poor, blind, etc. But the saints are called honorable, etc. 1 Chronicles 4:9; Psalm 16:3; Mal. 3:17. They are God's special people, his treasure, his jewels, etc. Hence their dignity.
III. Portion or inheritance implies Relation.Men do not give portions to foreigners, strangers, or enemies, but to natural or adopted relations.
God is not the portion of the wicked, enemies, aliens, the proud, etc.; but of the righteous, his real children. Romans 8:16,17; Galatians 3:26; see Deuteronomy 7:7.
IV. A portion or inheritance procures many friends.Solomon says, "the rich have many friends!"
So the saints have many friends. All the angels of Heaven are in peace and friendship with them, Psalm 91:7, 12; 34:11; Hebrews 1:14. All the saints of God are their friends. Nay, often God makes their enemies to be at peace with them. Proverbs 16:7.
V. A great portion makes a man properly to value himself, and not to ally himself with anyone unsuitable, and beneath him in station.
So the saint has the best reason for valuing himself. Because, through God's grace, he is rich — inconceivably rich — really rich. The great ones of the world are but outwardly and temporarily rich — his riches and portion make him really honorable, truly noble in the sight of God, angels and men — God has made him so rich and illustrious, 1 John 3:2 — he cannot be made poor by men or Satan — his riches are durable! Proverbs 8:21.
VI. A rich portion secures a man from the fear of need, and gives him many good things to enjoy.
So a Christian with God as his portion, is supplied and upheld by his providence and grace, and raised above the fear of need. "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." Psalm 23:1. Hab. 3:17; Lam. 3:24.
Behold the believer's portion:
Divine Life to quicken him.
Supernatural Light to direct him.
Infallible Wisdom to counsel him.
All Power to aid and defend him.
Spiritual joy to cheer and encourage him.
Heavenly bread to feed and sustain him.
Glorious robes of righteousness to clothe him.
Excellent graces and virtues to adorn him.
God Himself to guard and protect him!
A saint lives upon God, in whom all fullness dwells!
VII. A man possessing the greatest portion and inheritance, highly esteems it, and will not exchange it with an inferior portion.
So the believer highly values his portion, he loves the Lord with his heart, "Whom have I in Heaven but you? And earth has nothing 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. He would not change his estate with kings, etc., who are ungodly, Psalm 84:10. Moses despised the glory of Pharaoh's court, Hebrews 11:24-26. The Christian will not part with his spiritual estate for all the glories and splendors of earth! He will not be like Esau, who sold his birthright, etc.
VIII. A portion or inheritance may enable a man to do more good than those destitute of his means. He can assist those whom he esteems, etc., and sometimes even his enemies are profited by him.
So the Christian having a saving interest in God, is capable of doing much good to others. Hebrews 13:1-3.
(1.) By his prayers, for "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cries."
(2.) By good counsel, Acts 11:23.
(3.) By imparting comfort, 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.
(4.) By caution.
(5.) By holy example.
(6.) By distributing to the necessities of the saints.
And the wicked too are profited; saints are the Light of the world — the salt of the earth. Hence Laban was blessed for Jacob's sake, Genesis 30:27; and the house of Potiphar for Joseph's sake, Genesis 39:3. See Isaiah 1:9.
Lastly, How Superior is this spiritual portion to all the portions of the world, which are corruptible and unsatisfying!
God is an immortal, immense, infinite portion, and therefore satisfying. Who can compute the value of this portion? "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless!" Psalm 84:11. "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you!" Psalm 63:3 .
Other portions are withheld until the future, for this and that child, brother, friend, etc., and they have no benefit of it at present. But God is a present portion, a present help, a present support, present riches, present honor. "You are my portion in the land of the living!" Psalm 142:5.
Earthly portions have much evil frequently mixed with them; they are a bitter-sweet; they have many snares. See 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; James 5:1, etc. But God is a pure unmixed portion;
there is nothing in him but goodness;
light — and no darkness;
joy — and no sadness;
life — and no death, etc.
Earthly portions are common to men, to the vilest of men, etc. But God is a special portion; he gives himself only to his own people. They only can say, "This God is our God," etc. The wicked can never say so.
Other portions are but for a time--they pass away, or are lost. Riches make themselves wings, and fly away. But God is a never-failing portion; not only a portion now, but a portion hereafter . . .
our present and yet a future portion,
our portion while we live,
our portion when we die
our portion to all eternity!
1. Behold with gratitude, the wonderful condescension of God in giving himself to be the portion of his people.
2. What a contrast between the godly and the ungodly! The godly are exceedingly rich in the midst of poverty, and the ungodly are miserably poor in the midst of riches, as in the case of Lazarus, and the rich man, Luke 16.
3. Hence the reason of good men in all ages despising the world; they see glory beyond it — their portion is in Heaven. "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us!" Romans 8:18.
4. Let the lost sinner seek after this portion. He has been lost by sin. Obtain then God's favor through Christ.
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26
"You are my portion, O LORD!" Psalm 119:57