The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance…
I. THE NAME BY WHICH JEHOVAH IS HERE INDICATED. The Portion of Jacob. So the psalmist says, "My flesh and my heart faileth... but God is my Portion forever" (Psalm 73:26; see also Psalm 16:5). Men had their appointed portions, and no doubt they varied in value. But few were those who could rise above mere external things and look on the invisible God as their real Portion. And yet these were the only ones who had a portion and inheritance in the fullest sense of the words. For only so were they lifted above all temptation to envy, and above all the consequences of terrestrial impairments and losses. True, we have an inheritance of invisible and everlasting things, of which the present visible possessions give the preparatory conditions; but to possess these things we must possess God, must be sure of his interest, his spiritual providence, his sufficiency, for only in him can even spiritual possessions have their beginning and continuance. Nor must we fail to note what may be called the mutual character of this portion and inheritance. Jehovah being the Portion of Jacob, it is equally true that Jehovah's portion is his people (Deuteronomy 32:9). Even the best possessions of a natural man are not mere legal property, not mere intellectual knowledge, but those human beings whom he can call friends. Such a one is rich according to the quality of his friends, those on whom he has claims and who have claims on him. He is rich according to the opportunities he has of getting service from them; richer still according to his opportunities for rendering service, on the principle that it is more blessed to give than to receive. And so God will be our Inheritance just in proportion as we are God's inheritance. We cannot get satisfaction out of God unless he is getting satisfaction out of us. Our faith, our obedience, our devotion, are the conditions of his peculiar and richest bounty.
II. THE CONTRAST OF JACOB'S PORTION WITH THE PORTION OF OTHERS. They inherit a barren land. It may look promising; it may yield the appearance of fruit; but real and abiding fruit there is none. Babylon has taken Bel for its portion, and now the portion and the possessors are alike turned to confusion. Indeed, the portion has vanished into nothingness; for never was it anything but a name, an imposing fiction, a proof both of man's need of a portion and how incompetent he is to make such a portion for himself. But Jehovah always remains a Portion. The typical Jacob, the typical people of God that is, were unable to keep Jehovah as their Portion; they never had any real grasp of him, never more than the merest external acquaintance. But for those who can lay bold of him he is surely a Portion still. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the LORD of hosts is his name.