Psalm 16:5
The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: you maintain my lot.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBTODWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) The portion.—There is allusion here to the Levitical portion (Numbers 18:20): “I am thy portion and thine inheritance.” The poet, whom we must imagine exiled from his actual inheritance in Canaan, consoles, and more than consoles himself, with the sublime thought that this “better part” could not be taken away from him. Perowne quotes Savonarola’s fine saying, “What must not he possess who possesses the possessor of all!” and St. Paul’s, “All things are yours; for ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s;” which rather recalls Deuteronomy 32:9, where the correlative truth to Numbers 18:20 occurs.

For the figure of the cup, see Psalm 11:6. It had already become a synonym for “condition in life.”

Thou maintainest.—The Hebrew word is peculiar, and causes grammatical difficulties; but the sense is clear. God does not only dispose (cast) the lot of the man in covenant relation to Him—He does that even for unbelievers—but holds it fast in His hand. (See this use of the verb, Amos 1:5; Amos 1:8; Proverbs 5:5.) At the same time Hitzig’s conjecture (tômîd for tômîkh), is very plausible, “Thou art ever my lot.”

Psalms

MAN’S TRUE TREASURE IN GOD

Psalm 16:5 - Psalm 16:6
.

We read, in the law which created the priesthood in Israel, that ‘the Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them. I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel’ {Numbers 18:20}. Now there is an evident allusion to that remarkable provision in this text. The Psalmist feels that in the deepest sense he has no possession amongst the men who have only possessions upon earth, but that God is the treasure which he grasps in a rapture of devotion and self-abandonment. The priest’s duty is his choice. He will ‘walk by faith and not by sight.’

Are not all Christians priests? and is not the very essence and innermost secret of the religious life this-that the heart turns away from earthly things and deliberately accepts God as its supreme good, and its only portion? These first words of my text contain the essence of all true religion.

The connection between the first clause and the others is closer than many readers perceive. The ‘lot’ which ‘Thou maintainest,’ the ‘pleasant places,’ the ‘goodly heritage,’ all carry on the metaphor, and all refer to God as Himself the portion of the heart that chooses and trusts Him. ‘Thou maintainest my lot’-He who is our inheritance also guards our inheritance, and whosoever has taken God for his possession has a possession as sure as God can make it. ‘The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage’-the heritage that is goodly is God Himself. When a man chooses God for his portion, then, and then only, is he satisfied-’satisfied with favour, and full of the goodness of the Lord.’ Let me try to expand and enforce these thoughts, with the hope that we may catch something of their fervour and their glow.

I. The first thought, then, that comes out of the words before us is this: all true religion has its very heart in deliberately choosing God as my supreme good.

‘The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup.’ The two words which are translated in our version ‘portion’ and ‘inheritance’ are substantially synonymous. The latter of them is used continually in reference to the share of each individual, or family, or tribe in the partition of the land of Canaan. There is a distinct allusion, therefore, to that partition in the language of our text; and the two expressions, part or ‘portion,’ and ‘inheritance,’ are substantially identical, and really mean just the same as if the single expression had stood-’The Lord is my Portion.’

I may just notice in passing that these words are evidently alluded to in the New Testament, in the Epistle to the Colossians, where Paul speaks of God ‘having made us meet for our portion of the inheritance of the saints in light.’

And then the ‘portion of my cup’ is a somewhat strange expression. It is found in one of the other Psalms, with the meaning ‘fortune,’ or ‘destiny,’ or ‘sum of circumstances which make up a man’s life.’ There may be, of course, an allusion to the metaphor of a feast here, and God may be set forth as ‘the portion of my cup,’ in the sense of being the refreshment and sustenance of a man’s soul. But I should rather be disposed to consider that there is merely a prolongation of the earlier metaphor, and that the same thought as is contained in the figure of the ‘inheritance’ is expressed here {as in common conversation it is often expressed} by the word ‘cup,’ namely, ‘that which makes up a man’s portion in this life.’ It is used with such a meaning in the well-known words, ‘My cup runneth over,’ and in another shape in ‘The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?’ It is the sum of circumstances which make up a man’s ‘fortune.’ So the double metaphor presents the one thought of God as the true possession of the devout soul.

Now, how do we possess God? We possess things in one fashion and persons in another. The lowest and most imperfect form of possession is that by which a man simply keeps other people off material good, and asserts the right of disposal of it as he thinks proper. A blind man may have the finest picture that ever was painted; he may call it his, that is to say, nobody else can sell it, but what good is it to him? A lunatic may own a library as big as the Bodleian, but what use is it to him? Does the man who collects the rents of a mountain-side, or the poet or painter to whom its cliffs and heather speak far-reaching thoughts, most truly possess it? The highest form of possession, even of things, is when they minister to our thought, to our emotion, to our moral and intellectual growth. We possess even them really, according as we know them and hold communion with them. But when we get up into the region of persons, we possess them in the measure in which we understand them, and sympathise with them, and love them. Knowledge, intercourse, sympathy, affection-these are the ways by which men can possess men, and spirits, spirits. A disciple who gets the thoughts of a great teacher into his mind, and has his whole being saturated by them, may be said to have made the teacher his own. A friend or a lover owns the heart that he or she loves, and which loves back again; and not otherwise do we possess God.

Such ownership must be, from its very nature, reciprocal. There must be the two sides to it. And so we read in the Bible, with equal frequency: the Lord is the inheritance of His people, and His people are the inheritance of the Lord. He possesses me, and I possess Him-with reverence be it spoken-by the very same tenure; for whoso loves God has Him, and whom He loves He owns. There is deep and blessed mystery involved in this wonderful prerogative, that the loving, believing heart has God for its possession and indwelling Guest; and people are apt to brush such thoughts aside as mystical. But, like all true Christian mysticism, it is intensely practical.

We have God for ours, first, in the measure in which our minds are actively occupied with thoughts of Him. We have no merely mystical or emotional possession of God to preach. There is a real, adequate knowledge of Him in Jesus Christ. We know God, His character, His heart, His relations to us, His thoughts of good concerning us, sufficiently for all intellectual and for all practical purposes.

I wish to ask you a plain question: Do you ever think about Him? There is only one way of getting God for yours, and that is by bringing Him into your life by frequent meditation upon His sweetness, and upon the truths that you know about Him. There is no other way by which a spirit can possess a spirit, that is not cognisable by sense, except only by the way of thinking about him, to begin with. All else follows that. That is how you hold your dear ones when they go to the other side of the world. That is how you hold God, who dwells on the other side of the stars. There is no way to ‘have’ Him, but through the understanding accepting Him, and keeping firm hold of Him. Men and women that from Monday morning to Saturday night never think of His name-how do they possess God? And professing Christians that never remember Him all the day long-what absurd hypocrisy it is for them to say that God is theirs!

Yours, and never in your mind! When your husband, or your wife, or your child, goes away from home for a week, do you forget them as utterly as you forget God? Do you have them in any sense if they never dwell in the ‘study of your imagination,’ and never fill your thoughts with sweetness and with light?

And so again when the heart turns to Him, and when all the faculties of our being, will, hope, and imagination, and all our affections and all our practical powers, when they all touch Him, each in its proper fashion, then and then only can we in any reasonable and true sense be said to possess God.

Thought, communion, sympathy, affection, moral likeness, practical obedience, these are the way-and not by mystical raptures only-by which, in simple prose fact, it is possible for the finite to grasp the infinite, and for a man to be the owner of God.

Now there is another consideration very necessary to be remembered, and that is that this possession of God involves, and is possible only by, a deliberate act of renunciation. The Levite’s example, that is glanced at in my text, is always our law. You must have no part or inheritance amongst the sons of earth if God is to be your inheritance. Or, to put it into plain words, there must be a giving up of the material and the created if there is to be a possession of the divine and the heavenly. There cannot be two supreme, any more than there can be two pole-stars, one in the north and the other in the south, to both of which a man can be steering. You cannot stand with

‘One foot on land, and one on sea,

To one thing constant never.’

If you are to have God as your supreme good, you must empty your heart of earth and worldly things, or your possession of Him will be all words, and imagination, and hypocrisy. Brethren! I wish to bring that message to your consciences to-day.

And what is this renunciation? There must be, first of all, a fixed, deliberate, intelligent conviction lying at the foundation of my life that God is best, and that He and He only is my true delight and desire. Then there must be built upon that intelligent conviction that God is best, the deliberate turning away of the heart from these material treasures. Then there must be the willingness to abandon the outward possession of them, if they come in between us and Him. Just as travellers in old days, that went out looking for treasures in the western hemisphere, were glad to empty their ships of their less precious cargo in order to load them with gold, you must get rid of the trifles, and fling these away if ever they so take up your heart that God has no room there. Or rather, perhaps, if the love of God in any real measure, howsoever imperfectly, once gets into a man’s soul, it will work there to expel and edge out the love and regard for earthly things. Just as when the chemist collects oxygen in a vessel filled with water, as it passes into the jar it drives out the water before it; the love of God, if it come into a man’s heart in any real sense, in the measure in which it comes, will deliver him from the love of the world. But between the two there is warfare so internecine and endless that they cannot co-exist: and here, to-day, it is as true as ever it was that if you want to have God for your portion and your inheritance you must be content to have no inheritance amongst your brethren, nor part amongst the sons of earth.

Men and women! are you ready for that renunciation? Are you prepared to say, ‘I know that the sweetness of Thy presence is the truest sweetness that I can taste; and lo! I give up all besides and my own self’?

‘O God of good, the unfathomed Sea!

Who would not yield himself to Thee?’

And remember, that nothing less than these is Christianity-the conviction that the world is second and not first; that God is best, love is best, truth is best, knowledge of Him is best, likeness to Him is best, the willingness to surrender all if it come in contest with His supreme sweetness. He that turns his back upon earth by reason of the drawing power of the glory that excelleth, is a Christian. The Christianity that only trusts to Christ for deliverance from the punishment of sin, and so makes religion a kind of fire insurance, is a very poor affair. We need the lesson pealed into our ears as much as any generation has ever done, ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’ A man’s real working religion consists in his loving God most and counting His love the sweetest of all things.

II. Now let me turn to the next point that is here, viz. that this possession is as sure as God can make it. ‘Thou maintainest my lot.’ Thou art Thyself both my heritage and the guardian of my heritage. He that possesses God, says the text, by implication, is lifted above all fear and chance of change.

The land, the partition of which amongst the tribes lies at the bottom of the allusive metaphor of my text, was given to them under the sanction of a supernatural defence; and the law of their continuance in it was that they should trust and serve the unseen King. It was He, according to the theocratic theory of the Old Testament, and not chariots and horses, their own arm and their own sword, that kept them safe, though the enemies on the north and the enemies on the south were big enough to swallow up the little kingdom at a mouthful.

And so, says the Psalmist allusively, in a similar manner, the Divine Power surrounds the man who chooses God for his heritage, and nothing shall take that heritage from him.

The lower forms of possession, by which men are called the owners of material goods, are imperfect, because they are all precarious and temporary. Nothing really belongs to a man if it can be taken from him. What we may lose we can scarcely be said to have. They are mine, they were yours, they will be somebody else’s to-morrow. Whilst we have them we do not have them in any deep sense; we cannot retain them, they are not really ours at all. The only thing that is worth calling mine is something that so passes into and saturates the very substance of my soul that, like a piece of cloth dyed in the grain, as long as two threads hold together the tint will be there. That is how God gives us Himself, and nothing can take Him out of a man’s soul. He, in the sweetness of His grace, bestows Himself upon man, and guards His own gift in the heart, which is Himself. He who dwells in God and God in him lives as in the inmost keep and citadel. The noise of battle may roar around the walls, but deep silence and peace are within. The storm may rage upon the coasts, but he who has God for his portion dwells in a quiet inland valley where tempests never come. No outer changes can touch our possession of God. They belong to another region altogether. Other goods may go, but this is held by a different tenure. The life of a Christian is lived in two regions: in the one his life has its roots, and its branches extend to the other. In the one there may be whirling storms and branches may toss and snap, whilst in the other, to which the roots go down, may be peace. Root yourselves in God, making Him your truest treasure, and nothing can rob you of your wealth.

We here in this commercial community see many examples of great fortunes and great businesses melting away like yesterday’s snow. And surely the certain alternations of ‘booms’ and bad times might preach to some of you this lesson: Set not your hearts on that which can pass, but make your treasure that which no man can take from you.

Then, too, there is the other thought. God will help us so that no temptations shall have power to make us rob ourselves of our treasure. None can take it from us but ourselves, but we are so weak and surrounded by temptations so strong that we need Him to aid us if we are not to be beguiled by our own treacherous hearts into parting with our highest good. A handful of feeble Jews were nothing against the gigantic might of Assyria, or against the compacted strength of civilised Egypt; but there they stood, on their rocky mountains, defended, not by their own strength, but by the might of a present God. And so, unfit to cope with the temptations round us as we are, if we cast ourselves upon His power and make Him our supreme delight, nothing shall be able to rob us of that possession and that sweetness.

And there is just one last point that I would refer to here on this matter of our stable possession of God. It is very beautiful to observe that this psalm, which, in the language of my text, rises to the very height of spiritual and, in a good sense, mystical devotion, recognising God as the One Good for souls, is also one of the psalms which has the clearest utterance of the faith in immortality. Just after the words of my text we read these others, in which the Old Testament confidence in a life beyond the grave reaches its very climax: ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.’

That connection teaches us that the measure in which a man feels his true possession of God here and now, is the measure in which his faith rises triumphant over the darkness of the grave, and grasps, with unfaltering confidence, the conviction of an immortal life. The more we know that God is our portion and our treasure, the more sure, and calmly sure, we shall be that a thing like death cannot touch a thing like that, that the mere physical fact is far too small and insignificant a fact to have any power in such a region as that; that death can no more affect a man’s relation to God, whom he has learned to love and trust, than you can cut thought or feeling with a knife. The two belong to two different regions. Thus we have here the Old Testament faith in immortality shaping itself out of the Old Testament enjoyment of communion with God, with a present God. And you will find the very same process of thought in that seventy-third psalm, which stands in some respects side by side with this one as attaining the height of mystical devotion, joined with a very clear utterance of the faith in immortality: ‘Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee! Thou wilt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.’

So Death himself cannot touch the heritage of the man whose heritage is the Lord. And his ministry is not to rob us of our treasures as he robs men of all treasures besides {for ‘their glory shall not descend after them’}, but to give us instead of the ‘earnest of the inheritance’-the bit of turf by which we take possession of the estate-the broad land in all the amplitude of its sweep, into our perpetual possession. ‘Thou maintainest my lot.’ Neither death nor life ‘shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

III. And then the last thought here is that he who thus elects to find his treasure and delight in God is satisfied with his choice. ‘The lines’-the measuring-cord by which the estate was parted off and determined-’are fallen in pleasant places; yea!’-not as our Bible has it, merely ‘I have a goodly heritage,’ putting emphasis on the fact of possession, but-’the heritage is goodly to me,’ putting emphasis on the fact of subjective satisfaction with it.

I have no time to dwell upon the thoughts that spring from these words. Take them in the barest outline. No man that makes the worse choice of earth instead of God, ever, in the retrospect, said: ‘I have a goodly heritage.’ One of the later Roman Emperors, who was among the best of them, said, when he was dying: ‘I have been everything, and it profits me nothing.’ No creature can satisfy your whole nature. Portions of it may be fed with their appropriate satisfaction, but as long as we feed on the things of earth there will always be part of our being like an unfed tiger in a menagerie, growling for its prey, whilst its fellows are satisfied for the moment. You can no more give your heart rest and blessedness by pitching worldly things into it, than they could fill up Chat Moss, when they made the first Liverpool and Manchester Railway, by throwing in cartloads of earth. The bog swallowed them and was none the nearer being filled.

No man who takes the world for his portion ever said, ‘The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places.’ For the make of your soul as plainly cries out ‘God!’ as a fish’s fins declare that the sea is its element, or a bird’s wings mark it out as meant to soar. Man and God fit each other like the two halves of a tally. You will never get rest nor satisfaction, and you will never be able to look at the past with thankfulness, nor at the present with repose, nor into the future with hope, unless you can say, ‘God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.’ But oh! if you do, then you have a goodly heritage, a heritage of still satisfaction, a heritage which suits, and gratifies, and expands all the powers of a man’s nature, and makes him ever capable of larger and larger possession of a God who ever gives more than we can receive, that the overplus may draw us to further desire, and the further desire may more fully be satisfied.

The one true, pure, abiding joy is to hold fellowship with God and to live in His love. The secret of all our unrest is the going out of our desires after earthly things. They fly forth from our hearts like Noah’s raven, and nowhere amid all the weltering flood can find a resting-place. The secret of satisfied repose is to set our affections thoroughly on God. Then our wearied hearts, like Noah’s dove returning to its rest, will fold their wings and nestle fast by the throne of God. ‘All the happiness of this life,’ said William Law, ‘is but trying to quench thirst out of golden empty cups.’ But if we will take the Lord for ‘the portion of our cup,’ we shall never thirst.

Let me beseech you to choose God in Christ for your supreme good and highest portion; and having chosen, to cleave to your choice. So shall you enter on possession of good that truly shall be yours, even ‘that good part, which shall not be taken away from’ you.

And, lastly, remember that if you would have God, you must take Christ. He is the true Joshua, who puts us in possession of the inheritance. He brings God to you-to your knowledge, to your love, to your will. He brings you to God, making it possible for your poor sinful souls to enter His presence by His blood; and for your spirits to possess that divine Guest. ‘He that hath the Son, hath the Father’; and if you trust your souls to Him who died for you, and cling to Him as your delight and your joy, you will find that both the Father and the Son come to you and make their home in you. Through Christ the Son you will receive power to become sons of God, and ‘if children, then heirs, heirs of God,’ because ‘joint heirs with Christ.’Psalm 16:5. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance — Hebrew, חלקי, chelki, of my division, that is, of that portion which God hath mercifully divided, or distributed to me, and which, by his grace, I have chosen for myself. I envy not the vast riches and glory of idolaters, but do heartily rejoice in God as my portion, and desire no better nor any other felicity. God, who hath suffered other nations to walk in their own idolatrous ways, hath granted this favour to me, that I should know, worship, and serve him, the only true God. And as other nations have chosen, and adhere to their false gods, so have I chosen Jehovah, and will cleave to him. And of my cup — The portion that is put into my cup, as the ancient manner was in feasts, in which each had his portion of meat and of wine allotted to him: see Psalm 11:6. Thus while the carnal part of mankind take the world for their chief good, and place their felicity in the enjoyments of it, every truly pious and spiritual person, like David, will say, The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup. This is the portion I make choice of, and will gladly take up with, how poor soever my condition may be in this world. Let me have the love and favour of God, and be accepted of him: let me have the comfort of communion with him, and satisfaction in the communications of his graces and comforts: let me have an interest in his promises, and a title by promise to everlasting life and happiness in the future state, and I have enough, I need no more, I desire no more, to complete my felicity. Thou maintainest my lot — My heritage, in allusion to the land of Canaan, divided by lot. As thou hast given me an excellent lot, having planted me among thy own people, and in that place, which thou hast chosen for thy dwelling, and for the house and ordinances of thy worship, so, I doubt not, thou wilt uphold and preserve me there, in spite of all the malicious designs of mine enemies, that seek to drive me hence. Thus may the true Christian say: Thou, that hast by promise made over thyself to me to be mine, wilt graciously make good what thou hast promised. Thou wilt not leave me nor forsake me, nor put it into the power of mine enemies to rob me of my happiness in communion with thee, while I cleave to thee with full purpose of heart; and while the life I live in the flesh is by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.16:1-11 This psalm begins with expressions of devotion, which may be applied to Christ; but ends with such confidence of a resurrection, as must be applied to Christ, and to him only. - David flees to God's protection, with cheerful, believing confidence. Those who have avowed that the Lord is their Lord, should often put themselves in mind of what they have done, take the comfort of it, and live up to it. He devotes himself to the honour of God, in the service of the saints. Saints on earth we must be, or we shall never be saints in heaven. Those renewed by the grace of God, and devoted to the glory of God, are saints on earth. The saints in the earth are excellent ones, yet some of them so poor, that they needed to have David's goodness extended to them. David declares his resolution to have no fellowship with the works of darkness; he repeats the solemn choice he had made of God for his portion and happiness, takes to himself the comfort of the choice, and gives God the glory of it. This is the language of a devout and pious soul. Most take the world for their chief good, and place their happiness in the enjoyments of it; but how poor soever my condition is in this world, let me have the love and favour of God, and be accepted of him; let me have a title by promise to life and happiness in the future state; and I have enough. Heaven is an inheritance; we must take that for our home, our rest, our everlasting good, and look upon this world to be no more ours, than the country through which is our road to our Father's house. Those that have God for their portion, have a goodly heritage. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, and look no further. Gracious persons, though they still covet more of God, never covet more than God; but, being satisfied of his loving-kindness, are abundantly satisfied with it: they envy not any their carnal mirth and delights. But so ignorant and foolish are we, that if left to ourselves, we shall forsake our own mercies for lying vanities. God having given David counsel by his word and Spirit, his own thoughts taught him in the night season, and engaged him by faith to live to God. Verses 8-11, are quoted by St. Peter in his first sermon, after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Ac 2:25-31; he declared that David in them speaks concerning Christ, and particularly of his resurrection. And Christ being the Head of the body, the church, these verses may be applied to all Christians, guided and animated by the Spirit of Christ; and we may hence learn, that it is our wisdom and duty to set the Lord always before us. And if our eyes are ever toward God, our hearts and tongues may ever rejoice in him. Death destroys the hope of man, but not the hope of a real Christian. Christ's resurrection is an earnest of the believer's resurrection. In this world sorrow is our lot, but in heaven there is joy, a fulness of joy; our pleasures here are for a moment, but those at God's right hand are pleasures for evermore. Through this thy beloved Son, and our dear Saviour, thou wilt show us, O Lord, the path of life; thou wilt justify our souls now, and raise our bodies by thy power at the last day; when earthly sorrow shall end in heavenly joy, pain in everlasting happiness.The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance - In contradistinction from idols. The margin here is, "of my part." The word properly means "lot, portion, part;" and is applicable to the portion of booty or plunder that fell to anyone; or to the portion of land that belonged to anyone in the division of an estate, 2 Kings 9:10, 2 Kings 9:36-37. The meaning here is, that Yahweh was the being whom the psalmist worshipped as God, and that he sought no possession or comfort which did not proceed from him.

And my cup - The allusion here is to what we drink; and hence, the term is used in the sense of "lot" or "portion." See the notes at Isaiah 51:17. Compare the notes at Psalm 11:6. The idea here is this: "The cup that I drink - that cheers, refreshes, and sustains me - is the Lord. I find comfort, refreshment, happiness, in him alone; not in the intoxicating bowl; not in sensual joys; but in God - in his being, perfections, friendship."

Thou maintainest my lot - Thou dost defend my portion, or that which is allotted to me. The reference is to what he specifies in the following verse as his inheritance, and he says that that which was so valuable to him was sustained or preserved by God. He was the portion of his soul; he was the source of all his joy; he maintained or preserved all that was dear to his heart.

5-7. God is the chief good, and supplies all need (De 10:9).

portion of mine inheritance and of my cup—may contain an allusion to the daily supply of food, and also to the inheritance of Levi (De 18:1, 2).

maintainest—or, drawest out my lot—enlargest it. Ps 16:7 carries out this idea more fully.

Of mine inheritance, or, of my division, i.e. of that inheritance which God hath mercifully divided or distributed to me, and which I by his grace have chosen for myself. I envy not the vast riches and glory of idolaters, but do heartily rejoice in God as my portion, and desire no better nor no other felicity. God, who hath suffered other nations to walk in their own idolatrous ways, hath granted this favour to me, to know and worship him, the only true God. And as other nations have chosen and do adhere to their false gods, so have I chosen God, and will cleave to him.

And of my cup; the same thing repeated in other words. The portion of my cup, is the portion which is put into my cup, as the ancient manner was in feasts, where each had his portion of meat and of wine allotted to him. See Psalm 11:6. The cup oft denotes a man’s portion or condition, as Matthew 20:22 26:39.

Thou maintainest my lot, i.e. my inheritance divided to me by lot, as the custom then was, Joshua 18:11 Judges 1:3: q.d. As thou hast given me an excellent lot, having planted me among thine own people, and in that place which thou hast chosen for thy dwelling and worship, so, I doubt not, thou wilt uphold and preserve me there, in spite of all the malicious designs of mine enemies that seek to drive me hence. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup,.... This is said by Christ as a priest, and in allusion to the Levitical priests, who had no inheritance in the land of Canaan with their brethren, but the Lord was their part and portion, and their inheritance, Numbers 18:20; and it expresses the strong love and affection Christ had for the Lord as his God, the delight and pleasure he had in him, and the satisfaction he had in the enjoyment of him and communion with him, and that it was his meat and drink to serve him, and to do his will; and though his goodness did not extend to him, yet his goodness and happiness as man lay in him: unless the sense should be,

"the Lord is he who gives me the portion of mine inheritance;''

meaning his church and people, all the elect of God, who are Christ's portion and inheritance, given him by the Father; see Deuteronomy 32:9; And assigns to me my cup, as of blessings, so of sorrows and sufferings, which being measured out, filled up, and put into his hand by his Father, he freely took it, John 18:11;

thou maintainest my lot; that is, either his interest in God himself, as his covenant God, which always continued; or the lot of goods, of grace and glory, put into his hands for his people, which always remains; or rather the saints themselves, who, as they are Christ's portion and inheritance, so they are his lot; in allusion to the land of Canaan, which was divided by lot: these Jehovah took hold of, kept, preserved, and upheld, as the word (s) signifies; so that they shall never totally and finally fall and perish; and this sense is countenanced by what follows.

(s) "sustentas", Musculus, Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth; "sustentans", Montanus, Michaelis; "tenuisti", Cocceius; "tenendo quasi sustentans", Gejerus.

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. the portion &c.] Lit. the portion of my share and my cup: i.e. my allotted portion and cup. The word rendered share denotes a portion assigned, whether of land or property or food. The A.V., portion of mine inheritance, implies that Jehovah is compared to the share allotted him in the distribution of the land, a view supported by 5 b, 6; but my cup suggests rather the idea of a portion of food: Jehovah is all that he needs to satisfy hunger and thirst. Comp. Psalm 42:2; John 6:35; and contrast Psalm 11:6.

Thou maintainest my lot] Lit. thou holdest fast my lot. My welfare is in Thy hand; no man can rob me of it. But the form of the word rendered maintainest is anomalous; and context and parallelism seem to require a further statement of what God is for the Psalmist rather than what He does for him. Hence some critics render, Thou art the possession of my lot.

The language used here reminds us of the Levites, who had no portion or inheritance, but Jehovah was their portion (Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 18:1). Israel was a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6); and spiritually, Jehovah was the portion of Israel (Jeremiah 10:16), and of individual Israelites (Psalm 73:26; Psalm 119:57; Psalm 142:5; Lamentations 3:24).

5, 6. Jehovah is the Psalmist’s portion.Verse 5. - The Lord is the Portion of mine inheritance. God had said to Aaron, when he gave him no special inheritance in Canaan, "I am thy Part and thine Inherit-ante among the children of Israel" (Numbers 18:20). David claims the same privilege. God is his "Portion," and he needs no other. And of my cup. A man's "cup" is, in Scripture, his lot or condition in life (Psalm 11:6; Psalm 23:5) - that which is given him to drink. David will have God only for his cup. Thou maintainest my lot; i.e. thou makest it firm and sure (comp. Psalm 30:6, "In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved"). The distich which contains the question and that containing the general answer are now followed by three tristichs, which work the answer out in detail. The description is continued in independent clauses, which, however, have logically the value of relative clauses. The perff. have the signification of abstract presents, for they are the expression of tried qualities, of the habitual mode of action, of that which the man, who is the subject of the question, never did and what consequently it is not his wont to do. רגל means to go about, whether in order to spie out (which is its usual meaning), or to gossip and slander (here, and the Piel in 2 Samuel 19:28; cf. רכל, רכיל). Instead בּלשׁנו we have על־לּשׁנו (with Dag. in the second ל, in order that it may be read with emphasis and not slurred over),

(Note: Vid., the rule for this orthophonic Dag. in the Luther. Zeitschrift, 1863, S. 413.)

because a word lies upon the tongue ere it is uttered, the speaker brings it up as it were from within on to his tongue or lips, Psalm 16:4; Psalm 50:16; Ezekiel 36:3. The assonance of לרעהוּ רעה is well conceived. To do evil to him who is bound to us by the ties of kindred and friendship, is a sin which will bring its own punishment. קרוב is also the parallel word to רע in Exodus 32:27. Both are here intended to refer not merely to persons of the same nation; for whatever is sinful in itself and under any circumstances whatever, is also sinful in relation to every man according to the morality of the Old Testament. The assertion of Hupfeld and others that נשׂא in conjunction with חרפּה means efferre equals effari, is opposed by its combination with על and its use elsewhere in the phrase נשׁא חרפה "to bear reproach" (Psalm 69:8). It means (since נשׁא is just as much tollere as ferre) to bring reproach on any one, or load any one with reproach. Reproach is a burden which is more easily put on than cast off; audacter calumniare, semper aliquid haeret.

In Psalm 15:4 the interpretation "he is little in his own eyes, despised," of which Hupfeld, rejecting it, says that Hitzig has picked it up out of the dust, is to be retained. Even the Targ., Saad., Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, Urbino (in his Grammar, אהל מועד) take נבזה בעיניו together, even though explaining it differently, and it is accordingly accented by Baer נמאס נבזה בּע יניו (Mahpach, Asla Legarme, Rebia magnum).

(Note: The usual accentuation בּעיניו נמאס נבזה forcibly separates בעיניו from נבזה to which according to its position it belongs. And Heidenheim's accentuation נבזה בעיניו נמאס is to be rejected on accentuological grounds, because of two like distinctives the second has always a less distinctive value than the first. We are consequently only left to the one given above. The MSS vary.)

God exalts him who is קטן בּעיניו, 1 Samuel 15:17. David, when he brought up the ark of his God, could not sufficiently degrade himself (נקל), and appeared שׁפל בּעניו, 2 Samuel 6:22. This lowliness, which David also confesses in Psalm 131:1-3, is noted here and throughout the whole of the Old Testament, e.g., Isaiah 57:15, as a condition of being well-pleasing before God; just as it is in reality the chief of all virtues. On the other hand, it is mostly translated either, according to the usual accentuation, with which the Beth of בעיניו is dageshed: the reprobate is despised in his eyes (Rashi, Hupf.), or in accordance with the above accentuation: despised in his eyes is the reprobate (Maurer, Hengst., Olsh., Luzzatto); but this would say but little, and be badly expressed. For the placing together of two participles without an article, and moreover of similar meaning, with the design of the one being taken as subject and the other as predicate, is to be repudiated simply on the ground of style; and the difference among expositors shows how equivocal the expression is.

On the other hand, when we translate it: "despicable is he in his own eyes, worthy to be despised" (Ges. 134, 1), we can appeal to Psalm 14:1, where השׁהיתוּ is intensified just in the same way by התעיבוּ, as נבזה is here by נמאס; cf. also Genesis 30:31; Job 31:23; Isaiah 43:4. The antithesis of Psalm 15:4 to Psalm 15:4 is also thus fully met: he himself seems to himself unworthy of any respect, whereas he constantly shows respect to others; and the standard by which he judges is the fear of God. His own fear of Jahve is manifest from the self-denying strictness with which he performs his vows. This sense of נשׁבּע להרע is entirely misapprehended when it is rendered: he swears to his neighbour (רע equals רע), which ought to be לרענוּ, or: he swears to the wicked (and keeps to what he has thus solemnly promised), which ought to be לרע; for to what purpose would be the omission of the elision of the article, which is extremely rarely (Psalm 36:6) not attended to in the classic style of the period before the Exile? The words have reference to Leviticus 5:4 : if any one swear, thoughtlessly pronouncing להרע או להיטיב, to do evil or to do good, etc. The subject spoken of is oaths which are forgotten, and the forgetting of which must be atoned for by an asham, whether the nature of the oath be something unpleasant and injurious, or agreeable and profitable, to the person making the vow. The retrospective reference of להרע to the subject is self-evident; for to injure another is indeed a sin, the vowing and performance of which, not its omission, would require to be expiated. On להרע equals להרע vid., Ges. 67, rem. 6. The hypothetical antecedent (cf. e.g., 2 Kings 5:13) is followed by ולא ימר is an apodosis. The verb המיר is native to the law of vows, which, if any one has vowed an animal in sacrifice, forbids both changing it for its money value (החליף) and exchanging it for another, be it טוב ברע או־רע בּטוב, Leviticus 27:10, Leviticus 27:33. The psalmist of course does not use these words in the technical sense in which they are used in the Law. Swearing includes making a vow, and לא ימר disavows not merely any exchanging of that which was solemnly promised, but also any alteration of that which was sworn: he does not misuse the name of God in anywise, לשּׁוא.

In Psalm 15:5 the psalmist also has a passage of the Tra before his mind, viz., Leviticus 25:37, cf. Exodus 22:24; Deuteronomy 23:20; Ezekiel 18:8. נתן בּנשׁך signifies to give a thing away in order to take usury (נשׁך( yrusu ekat ot r from נשׁך to bite, δάκνειν) for it. The receiver or demander of interest is משּׁיך, the one who pays interest נשׁוּך, the interest itself נשׁך. The trait of character described in Psalm 15:5 also recalls the language of the Mosaic law: שׁחד לא לקח, the prohibition Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; and על־נקי, the curse Deuteronomy 27:25 : on account of the innocent, i.e., against him, to condemn him. Whether it be as a loan or as a gift, he gives without conditions, and if he attain the dignity of a judge he is proof against bribery, especially with reference to the destruction of the innocent. And now instead of closing in conformity with the description of character already given: such a man shall dwell, etc., the concluding sentence takes a different form, moulded in accordance with the spiritual meaning of the opening question: he who doeth these things shall never be moved (ימּוט fut. Niph.), he stands fast, being upheld by Jahve, hidden in His fellowship; nothing from without, no misfortune, can cause his overthrow.

Links
Psalm 16:5 Interlinear
Psalm 16:5 Parallel Texts


Psalm 16:5 NIV
Psalm 16:5 NLT
Psalm 16:5 ESV
Psalm 16:5 NASB
Psalm 16:5 KJV

Psalm 16:5 Bible Apps
Psalm 16:5 Parallel
Psalm 16:5 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 16:5 Chinese Bible
Psalm 16:5 French Bible
Psalm 16:5 German Bible

Bible Hub
Psalm 16:4
Top of Page
Top of Page