This morning I’ve been meditating on a phrase in Psalm 16:7: “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” What does “The Lord is my portion” really mean?
J. Gresham Machen has said that “God is the most obligated of all beings.” Doesn’t that sound so counterintuitive? In our consumer culture such a statement sounds sinful and offensive.
When I queried my Jack Miller Research Library searching for occurrences of “The Lord is my portion,” I found a section written by Jack in an unpublished essay entitled “Faith versus Magic,” in which he makes a similarly startling statement: “If you could say you owned God, the Lord is my portion, you are the richest person of all.” What?
Take a moment and read what Jack Miller had to say about the power of faith when the Lord is my chosen portion.
“And that brings us to the third thing, that faith has power in it. And in the Bible it’s virtually a synonym—used virtually as a synonym—for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the person who has faith has Jesus Christ. If you have faith—well let me back up a little bit and put it to you in another way. In the Bible we’re told that with God all things are possible—we’ll all agree that the Bible teaches that, I think. Now did you ever think of how strange it is that we are told by Jesus that all things are possible to him that believes. Do you realize how staggering that is?
You know, we get into the habit of just reading through the Bible and we’re accustomed to these things, and they have a certain rhythm to them, and we just read right on through them. Do you realize, then, what a staggering thing it is to say of a man’s faith, that all things are possible to him that believeth? Now the only One of whom you can say that is One whose name is Omnipotence, the Almighty God. We might just look at that passage for a moment, Mark 9, Jesus has come down from the Mount of Transfiguration, He reproves, in verse 19, His disciples for not being able to deal with the demon world, they cannot oppose it by faith—their faith is too weak—and then the man comes to Jesus and he says to Jesus in verse 22, “If you can do anything have pity on us and help us.” Then in verse 23 Jesus rebukes him, and Jesus said to him, “If you can!” (that is, “What are you talking about?”), “all things are possible to him who believes.” The question isn’t My power, its availability, but the question is whether you believe, because if you believe My infinite power is available to you.
Now you’re a very superficial person, whether you believe it or not, if you don’t reflect on that—the most amazing thing here—that the person who believes comes into possession of that which is God’s. And, of course, that’s why salvation is ours—through faith we’re united to Jesus Christ and everything He has becomes ours and all that we have becomes His. And that’s why we’re so rich; for you know the grace of the Lord Jesus, brethren, that though He was rich for your sakes He became poor that you, through His poverty, might become rich. And so, we can put it this way, if you owned Montgomery County you’d be pretty wealthy; if you owned Pennsylvania you’d be even richer than the DuPont’s. But if you could say you owned God, the Lord is your portion, you’re the richest of all. So to him that has faith, all things are his because he’s in Christ and Christ is in God.
Therefore, when you turn to the Bible, you find that the most astonishing things happen when people believe. Open your Bible just for an experiment, tomorrow morning, and read—start reading Matthew 8 and just go right through for about four or five chapters—and see how much is said about faith, what it does for people. And then, if your spirits are despondent, if you’re down, pick up the 11th chapter of Hebrews and read it, and then when you get excited about it go through chapter 12 and you’ll see what power there is in faith because it lays hold upon God and His grace.
And so, what it is, in faith you surrender yourself and then a mysterious thing happens, you discover you surrender yourself and you get everything. And if you don’t do this you can struggle forever and ever and ever and you try to get rich with your own little handfuls and it all melts away. So there’s this tremendous power in faith and, as I said, it’s virtually a synonym for the Holy Spirit’s working. It’s simply the man-ward side of that divine working by which God draws sinners to Himself by His sovereign mercy.”
It isn’t altogether startling for me to meditate on the reality that God owns me. Of course He does. He created me and He recreated me. But then to meditate upon “The Lord is my chosen portion” in Psalm 16, that God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, unites me to Jesus Christ in such a way that by faith I own God.
Just typing out and saying these words causes something in me to recoil at the seeming arrogance of it.
Upon further prayerful reflection on Psalm 16, I think a lot of my resistance in claiming “The Lord is my chosen portion” has to do more with my own self-centeredness and desires for self-pleasure whereas Christ is so totally other-centered that He receives great pleasure, gladness, and the fullness of joy in glorifying His Father in Heaven and giving Himself away in love to others.