You are my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep your words.
A man's portion is that which he deliberately chooses as the chief object of his life, that on which he concentrates" his thought, bestows his energy, lavishes his affection; that which in turn colours him, moulds him. No man need tell us in so many words what is his portion, his life is an eloquent proclamation of that fact. The sensualist who wallows in mire writes this message like the mark of the beast across his brow, "Lust is my portion." The pleasure-seeker, whose one thought is selfish gratification, and who flits from gaiety to gaiety like a short-lived butterfly from flower to flower, announces by his whole bearing, "Enjoyment is my portion." The avaricious man, whether known as a miser or not, as he surveys the golden pile and smiles over his ever-fattening bank account, tells you, heedless of his shrinking soul, that Mammon is his portion. The student, as he betakes himself to some sequestered nook where he can quiz the angel Truth, and secure sweet whispers from her lips, quietly asseverates, "Learning is my portion." It may help us to realize how rich we are in God if I name a feature or two of this portion.
I. IT IS SPIRITUAL. One of the saddest phases of life to-day is the disparagement and denial of the spiritual nature of man. The body is too much in evidence to be denied or disparaged. The mind, too, comes in for a good measure of attention, but our real self, our upper self, our spiritual part, has meagre attention. Some deny the existence of the soul, others treat it just as though it were not; and there can be no doubt that the soul of many is an undiscovered world. Yet, in spite of our bad treatment of it, our spiritual nature will assert itself, — "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God." I am not to be put off with matter. It is no use sending ms to Nature — singing streams, flowery meadows, towering hills, shining stars, beauteous phenomena, shifting scenes of splendour cannot satisfy me. I am not to be put off with mind. It is no use sending me to books. I am a person, and only a person can satisfy me. I am a spirit, and only the spiritual can meet my mighty longings. I am immortal, and only the eternal can be enough for me. And so it comes to pass, the moment a man discovers himself, he feels that no earthly portion can cover the whole of his necessity, can slake the whole of his thirst, and so he looks heavenwards, stretches out his little hands to grasp the hands of the Infinite One, and cries, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee, there is none upon the earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever."
II. IT IS PRESENT. The psalmist was not thinking of a far away patrimony which would be his when the river we call death should be crossed. God was then his treasure — "Thou art my portion." And we have not to think of God as an estate which we have to die to realize in some distant heaven. That kind of feeling has wrought incalculable mischief in numberless Christian lives. There are those who conceive of their portion as wholly yonder, and they doom the present to sheer emptiness. Be not deceived. The whole of our heaven is not there, a good slice of it is hero. Yonder is the tree of life, but the branches hang over the wall, and the grapes are not too high to be sour. Whatever God will be to us in heaven He is to us in large measure on earth. We need not go through the world as paupers, seeing we have such treasure at hand, Our life need not be a wilderness waste, a flowerless garden, a waterless well, a bankrupt bank, a sunless day, since God is ours. Let us appropriate our treasures; let us seek a present heaven; let us believe that we have in God an unspeakable fund of blessing — a present love, higher than the heavens, deeper than the sea, broader than the earth, and closer than the atmosphere; a present joy, keeping the heart young and warm, the face bright, the tongue musical; a present peace, keeping the soul unchafed and the life tranquil amid the strife of unfriendly voices; and a present grace enough for our sorest need, our darkest hour.
III. IT IS PERMANENT. Many portions are precarious, perishable, evanescent. Millionaires have ore this seen their mountain of gold vanish. Grand estates have exchanged hands by a stroke of the pen. A great preacher says, "Nothing really belongs to a man if it can be taken from him. What we may lose we can scarcely be said to have. 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." As the sun gives itself to the flower, nourishing, painting, and perfecting it, so God gives Himself unto the soul that trusts in Him. We may have all that belongs to God in perpetual possession. He and all He has are ours every day alike.
IV. IT IS SATISFYING. Pleasure, does that satisfy? It never did; it never can. Xerxes felt, when surfeited with his indulgences, that something more was wanted, and offered a reward to the man who would invent a new pleasure. Wealth, does that satisfy? Nay, it rather breeds dissatisfaction. Social distinctions and worldly honours, are these satisfying?
Parallel VersesKJV: CHETH. Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.