Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
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Psalm 73:26. My flesh and my heart faileth — I find, by sad experience, my own weakness and inability to encounter such temptations, and bear, with becoming patience and resignation, such troubles, as I frequently meet with; yea, I find myself a frail, dying creature, that shall shortly return to the dust. Both my flesh and heart, my body and soul may, and, unless supported by God, will soon fail. But God is the strength of my heart — I have found him so; I do find him so, and hope I ever shall. As if he had said, Though I have no strength in myself, I have it in God, my never- failing refuge, to whom I will trust as long as I live. Hebrew, צור לבבי, tsur lebabi, the rock of my heart, a firm foundation, which will bear my weight, and not sink under it. In the distress supposed, he had put the case of a double failure, a failure of both the flesh and heart; but in the relief, he fixes on a single support; he leaves out the flesh, and the consideration of it; it is enough that God is the strength of his heart. He speaks as one careless of the body; let that fail, it must, there is no remedy; but he is concerned about his soul, to be strengthened in the inner man. And my portion for ever — He will not only support me while I am here, but will make me happy when I go hence, happy to all eternity. The saints choose God for their portion; he is their portion; and it is their happiness that he will be their portion for ever; a portion that will last as long as the immortal soul. Reader, consider this, and make choice of this portion without delay.

73:21-28 God would not suffer his people to be tempted, if his grace were not sufficient, not only to save them from harm, but to make them gainers by it. This temptation, the working of envy and discontent, is very painful. In reflecting upon it, the psalmist owns it was his folly and ignorance thus to vex himself. If good men, at any time, through the surprise and strength of temptation, think, or speak, or act amiss, they will reflect upon it with sorrow and shame. We must ascribe our safety in temptation, and our victory, not to our own wisdom, but to the gracious presence of God with us, and Christ's intercession for us. All who commit themselves to God, shall be guided with the counsel both of his word and of his Spirit, the best counsellors here, and shall be received to his glory in another world; the believing hopes and prospects of which will reconcile us to all dark providences. And the psalmist was hereby quickened to cleave the closer to God. Heaven itself could not make us happy without the presence and love of our God. The world and all its glory vanishes. The body will fail by sickness, age, and death; when the flesh fails, the conduct, courage, and comfort fail. But Christ Jesus, our Lord, offers to be all in all to every poor sinner, who renounces all other portions and confidences. By sin we are all far from God. And a profession Christ, if we go on in sin, will increase our condemnation. May we draw near, and keep near, to our God, by faith and prayer, and find it good to do so. Those that with an upright heart put their trust in God, shall never want matter for thanksgiving to him. Blessed Lord, who hast so graciously promised to become our portion in the next world, prevent us from choosing any other in this.My flesh and my heart faileth - Flesh and heart here seem to refer to the whole man, body and soul; and the idea is, that his powers of body and mind failed; were spent; were exhausted. This seems to have been said in an "ideal" sense, or by anticipation. He does not mean to say that his strength then had actually failed, but he seems to have placed himself by imagination in the situation where his strength "would" be all gone - in sickness, in weakness, in sorrow, on the bed of death. He asks himself now what would be his strength then - what would be the object of chief interest and love - on what he would rely; and he answers without hesitation, and with entire confidence, that he could rely on God, and that He would be his portion forever. Even then, when heart and flesh should fail, when all the powers of mind and body should be exhausted, the love of God would survive, and he would find strength and joy in Him.

But God is the strength of my heart - Margin, as in Hebrew, "rock;" the rock on which my heart relies; that is, my refuge, my defense. See the notes at Psalm 18:2. Compare Psalm 61:2.

And my portion for ever - The source of my happiness. Not wealth, then; not honor; not earthly friends; not fame - will be my reliance and the ground of my hope; but that which I shall regard as most valuable - my supreme joy and rejoicing - will be the fact that God is my friend and portion. With all the doubts which I have had in regard to the rectitude of his government, I am sure that when I come to die, I shall cling to him as my hope, my joy, my all. My last refuge - my sufficient refuge - is God. When people come to die, they have "no other refuge" but God. Nothing that they can accumulate of this world's goods will meet their needs then, for God only can give strength and comfort on the bed of death. Of each and all, however vigorous they may now be, it will be true that "flesh and heart" will "fail;" of each and all it is true that when this shall occur, none but God can be the portion and the strength of the soul.

26. strength—literally, "rock" (Ps 18:2).

portion—(Ps 16:5; La 3:24).

In myself, I confess I am a poor weak creature, and my body and spirit may fail and be ready to faint under such temptations and tribulations as these, and I know I shall shortly return to the dust, out of which I was taken. But though I have no strength in myself; I have it in God, my never-failing refuge, to whom I will trust whilst I live, and who will be my portion to eternity.

My flesh and my heart faileth,.... Either through vehement desires of communion with God deferred, see Psalm 84:2 or through afflictive dispensations of Providence, being smitten and chastened continually, Psalm 73:14, or through inward trials and exercises, by reason of indwelling sin, temptations, and desertions: or rather the words are expressive of the body being emaciated by sickness and diseases; and the heart fainting through fear of death, or rather failing at it, being at the point of death; the heart being, as philosophers say, the first that lives, and the last that dies:

but God is the strength of my heart, or "the rock of my heart" (h); when overwhelmed with distress through outward trouble, or in the lowest condition with respect to spiritual things; when grace is weak, corruptions strong, temptations prevail, and afflictions are many; then does the Lord support and sustain his people, and strengthens them with strength in their souls; and in the moment of death, by showing them that its sting is taken away, and its curse removed; that their souls are going to their Lord, and about to enter into his joy; and that their bodies will rise again glorious and incorruptible:

and my portion for ever; both in life and at death, and to all eternity; this is a very large portion indeed; such who have it inherit all things; yea, it is immense and inconceivable; it is a soul satisfying one, and is safe and secure; it can never be taken away, nor can it be spent; it will last always; see Psalm 142:5.

(h) "rupes cordis mei", Montanus, Musculus, Piscator, Cocceius, "petra cordis mei", Tigurine version, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my {o} portion for ever.

(o) He teaches us to deny ourselves, to have God our whole sufficiency, and only contentment.

26. God is the strength of my heart] Lit., the rock of my heart. Though bodily and mental powers fail, God is his sure refuge in every danger (Psalm 62:2; Psalm 62:6-7), the possession which cannot be taken from him (Psalm 16:5; Psalm 142:5). Never, now that he has come to his right mind, will he look for any other refuge (Isaiah 44:8), or envy those “whose portion in life is of the world” (Psalm 17:14).

Verse 26. - My flesh and my heart faileth. The meaning is, "Though my flesh and my heart fail utterly, though my whole corporeal and animal nature fade away and come to nothing, yet something in the nature of a heart - the true 'I,' consciousness, will remain, and will be upheld by God." God is the Strength of my heart, and my Portion forever. "A strong assertion of personal immortality" (Cook). "This is the mysticism of faith; we are on the verge of St. Paul's conception of the πνεῦμα, the organ of life in God" (Cheyne). Psalm 73:26But he does not thus deeply degrade himself: after God has once taken him by the right hand and rescued him from the danger of falling (Psalm 73:2), he clings all the more firmly to Him, and will not suffer his perpetual fellowship with Him to be again broken through by such seizures which estrange him from God. confidently does he yield up himself to the divine guidance, though he may not see through the mystery of the plan (עצה) of this guidance. He knows that afterwards (אחר with Mugrash: adverb as in Psalm 68:26), i.e., after this dark way of faith, God will כבוד receive him, i.e., take him to Himself, and take him from all suffering (לקח as in Psalm 49:16, and of Enoch, Genesis 5:24). The comparison of Zechariah 2:12 [8] is misleading; there אחר is rightly accented as a preposition: after glory hath He sent me forth (vid., Kצhler), and here as an adverb; for although the adverbial sense of אחר would more readily lead one to look for the arrangement of the words ואחר תקחני כבוד, still "to receive after glory" (cf. the reverse Isaiah 58:8) is an awkward thought. כבוד, which as an adjective "glorious" (Hofmann) is alien to the language, is either accusative of the goal (Hupfeld), or, which yields a form of expression that is more like the style of the Old Testament, accusative of the manner (Luther, "with honour"). In אחר the poet comprehends in one summary view what he looks for at the goal of the present divine guidance. The future is dark to him, but lighted up by the one hope that the end of his earthly existence will be a glorious solution of the riddle. Here, as elsewhere, it is faith which breaks through not only the darkness of this present life, but also the night of Hades. At that time there was as yet no divine utterance concerning any heavenly triumph of the church, militant in the present world, but to faith the Jahve-Name had already a transparent depth which penetrated beyond Hades into an eternal life. The heaven of blessedness and glory also is nothing without God; but he who can in love call God his, possesses heaven upon earth, and he who cannot in love call God his, would possess not heaven, but hell, in the midst of heaven. In this sense the poet says in Psalm 73:25 : whom have I in heaven? i.e., who there without Thee would be the object of my desire, the stilling of my longing? without Thee heaven with all its glory is a vast waste and void, which makes me indifferent to everything, and with Thee, i.e., possessing Thee, I have no delight in the earth, because to call Thee mine infinitely surpasses every possession and every desire of earth. If we take בּארץ still more exactly as parallel to בּשּׁמים, without making it dependent upon חפצתּי: and possessing Thee I have no desire upon the earth, then the sense remains essentially the same; but if we allow בארץ to be governed by חפצתי in accordance with the general usage of the language, we arrive at this meaning by the most natural way. Heaven and earth, together with angels and men, afford him no satisfaction - his only friend, his sole desire and love, is God. The love for God which David expresses in Psalm 16:2 in the brief utterance, "Thou art my Lord, Thou art my highest good," is here expanded with incomparable mystical profoundness and beauty. Luther's version shows his master-hand. The church follows it in its "Herzlich lieb hab' ich dich" when it sings -

"The whole wide world delights me not,

For heaven and earth, Lord, care Inot,

If I may but have Thee;"

and following it, goes on in perfect harmony with the text of our Psalm -

"Yea, though my heart be like to break,

Thou art my trust that nought can shake;"

(Note: Miss Winkworth's translation.)

or with Paul Gerhard, [in his Passion-hymn "Ein Lmmlein geht und trgt die Schuld der Welt und ihrer Kinder,"

"Light of my heart, that shalt Thou be;

And when my heart in pieces breaks,

Thou shalt my heart remain."

For the hypothetical perfect כּלה expresses something in spite of which he upon whom it may come calls God his God: licet defecerit. Though his outward and inward man perish, nevertheless God remains ever the rock of his heart as the firm ground upon which he, with his ego, remains standing when everything else totters; He remains his portion, i.e., the possession that cannot be taken from him, if he loses all, even his spirit-life pertaining to the body, - and God remains to him this portion לעולם, he survives with the life which he has in God the death of the old life. The poet supposes an extreme case, - one, that is, it is true, impossible, but yet conceivable, - that his outward and inward being should sink away; even then with the merus actus of his ego he will continue to cling to God. In the midst of the natural life of perishableness and of sin, a new, individual life which is resigned to God has begun within him, and in this he has the pledge that he cannot perish, so truly as God, with whom it is closely united, cannot perish. It is just this that is also the nerve of the proof of the resurrection of the dead which Jesus advances in opposition to the Sadducees (Matthew 22:32).

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