For the LORD's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
The word "portion" signifies a possession which a man claims as his own, which he highly prizes, and in which he greatly delights. We cannot surf that the English are the people of God, or the French, or the Germans, or the Russians; but we may say that God has a people in England, and in France, and in Germany, and in Russia; and so on. For His real people are no longer known as Jew or Gentile, barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; but those in every nation under heaven are His who worship Him in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. These are His people; He has pleasure in them, and counts them His portion — a possession dear to Him above all others. Of course, we speak of earth. In heaven lie may have what is dearer still: but when He looks down on earth, He sees nothing so precious as those whom He has chosen to be His people, the lot of His inheritance. Let us, then, see on what grounds it is that He so highly values them. These are three: they are dear to Him — as bought by so costly a price; as regenerated by His grace on earth; as hereafter to be glorified in heaven.
I. NOW, WHEN A MAN PAYS A GREAT PRICE FOR ANYTHING, HE MUST HAVE ESTEEMED IT VERY VALUABLE BEFORE HE COULD BE INDUCED TO GIVE SO MUCH FOR IT; and in like manner, we argue very correctly when we say that the fact of God's giving His Son to save the world was a proof how strongly His bowels yearned over manhood, how precious they were in His sight. But this is not the exact feature of the case before us, which we are proposing to consider. We are not speaking of that love of God to the world which led Him to give His Son to save it; but of His love to those who are so purchased and saved. And here also, if we look at the manner of men, we well know that what a man has laboured hard for, and purchased dear, he prizes accordingly; he surveys the acres which, at the expense of much toil, he has made his own, with very different feelings from those of his heir, into whose hands they fall without any care or expense on his part, and who perhaps dissipates what his predecessor had acquired. It is this latter case which illustrates the love that God bears to His people, He loves them because so much has been paid for them; He would not that the souls should perish for which Christ died; His soul would be grieved at the loss of that which the counsels of His wisdom and the treasures of His love had been expended to procure.
II. When a man, at a very high price, has purchased a tract of waste land, which, on account of the scenery, the air, and the capabilities of the soil, HE DESTINES FOR HIS FUTURE RESIDENCE, HE SURVEYS WHAT HAS NOW BECOME HIS PROPERTY WITH MUCH INTEREST. But in its present state he cannot view it with entire satisfaction; he cannot dwell in the morass, nor take up his abode in the one mean hovel that stands on the premises; but he will not let the large sum which he has paid be lost. He therefore causes the whole to be surveyed, lays down a plan of improvement, and fixes on the site of his intended dwelling. After a while the scene is changed, the bog is reclaimed, furze and brushwood, and all unsightly objects are swept away, trees are planted, the grounds are tastefully laid out, and a beautiful mansion is erected. The proprietor now looks at it with other eyes than before, is delighted with the loveliness which he beholds, and gladly fixes his abode there. It is thus that the Lord at first beholds those whom He has purchased by the death of His Son. The mere fact of Christ's having died for them makes no more change in their character than a man's having paid the purchase of a bleak common converts it into a scene of loveliness. No; much has to be done with the soil of the heart, as well as with the soil of the ground; and He who undertakes the work is a skilful operator, and is sure to succeed. But here the parallel ceases; our illustration leaves us — it can help us no further. How man acts upon the inert soil, we can understand; but cannot understand how God acts upon the mind. The process of education comes the nearest to it; for, as we teach children by books, and stimulate them by rewards and punishments, so God deals with His people in a way of instruction and discipline.
III. If, then, the people of God is His portion here below; if such is the excellence of real holiness, that, imperfect as their holiness is, their heavenly Father sees nothing to be compared to it, nothing worthy to be mentioned with it, in the whole compass of our globe — WHAT A PORTION WILL HIS RANSOMED ONES BE TO HIM, WHEN EVERY REMAINDER OF SIN SHALL BE DONE AWAY; when He shall see in them the full resemblance of their elder Brother, His well-beloved Son, and be well pleased with them, even as He is well pleased with Him! And now let me, in conclusion, show you that all the considerations which move God to take us for His portion should be so many arguments to induce us to follow after holiness.
1. In the first place, the price paid for us. Did Christ die to redeem us from this present evil world? and shall we be conformed to the world which crucified Him?
2. Further, consider how excellent true holiness is. If the Lord's people are His portion, it is because they are a holy people. He rejoices over them on account of their holiness. Think, then, what a real dignity and sterling worth there must be in that which God Himself approves.
3. But look beyond the end of your days here below — look to those days which will know no end. Think of the sanctity and blessedness of that state for which God is training you, and be content to be led and disciplined for it in the way that He pleases.
(J. Fawcett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.