Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Lord Is My Portion (Psalm 119:57-64)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Ken Roth (Guest preacher)

Please turn with me to our sermon text. It's found in the Book of Psalms, Psalm One hundred nineteen. I'm going to going to be reading verses fifty seven through sixty four. However, Verse Fifty Seven is is what I'm going to be focusing on in the sermon. So here now, God's word from the book of Psalm some one hundred nineteen, beginning with verse fifty seven. The Lord is my portion. I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favor with all my heart. Be Gracious to me according to Your promise. When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies. I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. The cords of the wicked ensnare me. I do not forget your law. At midnight, I rise to praise you because of your righteous rules. I'm a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts. The Earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love. Teach me your statutes. This is the word of the Lord. Amen, you may be seated. Well, let's say that the Lord were to appear to you and here were to ask you, what is it that you want. I mean that that gets everybody here of any age right. What is it? What is it that you really want? I mean what is the one thing that you desire above all else? Whatever it is, I will grant it to you. I wouldn't that be an exciting appearance of the Lord. So what is it that that immediately comes to your mind? And perhaps for some of you the first thought might be you mean only one thing, but, Lord, I have so many needs. And here's kind of what we're getting at here. Assuming that the Lord did grant you your desire, would it, whatever it is that you dream of and which occupies so much of your thoughts, if it were really giving to you, and let's be really, really honest about this, if it was given to you, would it really really give you fullness and enduring, lasting satisfaction? We all know the answer. It wouldn't. It would not truly, whatever it is, be able to really fill our hearts and our souls. It might be nice for a while, it might be fun, might be enjoyable for a while, but it won't...

...last. And that's part of the reality of life in this world. And in fact it's this very reality which the book of Ecclesiastes drives home so very well. In ecclesiast these, chapter two, we read this. I'm picking up at Verse Four. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I Made Myself Gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools. I bought male and female slaves. I also had great possessions of herds and and flocks. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, and whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after the wind. Now, with that in mind the fact that nothing in all the earth that that you can dream of can truly fill your soul, can truly give you lasting, in enduring satisfaction, let's go back to where we began. Let's again say the Lord appears to you and he asks you, okay, what is it you want? Whatever it is, I will grant it. Who among US would ever think to reply, Lord, I want you, I want you to be my portion. That's what we have here. Psalm one nineteen, verse fifty seven, that first part of the verse, the Lord is my portion. And you know what, regarding the Lord being our portion in Christ, this is exactly what takes place for all who've put their faith in, their trust in Christ, saving work on the Cross, by His grace, Christ gives us himself. Do you realize that he gives us himself? He gives himself to us as are everlasting, soul satisfying portion, such that we truly can begin to say, and I say begin because it's in heaven where this will truly be realized in all of its glory, or we truly can begin to say, alongside the Psalmness, the Lord, he is my portion. Now, if we're really going to grasp the...

...the sheer wonder and an utter desirability of this the Lord is my portion, we have to understand that this concept, that this is a concept which possesses a deep meaning and importance in in the Old Testament. See, what we have here in verse for Fifty Seven doesn't just come out of nowhere. It comes out of a bigger context of the Old Testament itself and in fact we find its origins back in the book of Joshua and the dividing up of the Promised Land amongst the various tribes of Israel. Regarding the Promised Land, it's not like we might think of our own country and maybe the settling of the Midwest or the West, where some settlers perhaps might decide to go off in a more northerly direction. You know, I'm going to go to Oregon or or or Washington, I'm going to go to California and and so forth. In the book of Joshua, very differently, we find the dividing up of the land, that it was determined by God, and thus there was there was an order to it, a plan, there was a design to it. God divided up the land into geographical regions, with each tribe inheriting a particular geographic region. In other words, each tribe had their own territory or inheritance or portion, there's that word from Verse Fifty Seven. Each tribe had their own portion of the promised land, which really the Promised Land itself is a shadow of heaven it itself. That land wasn't the ultimate. So, for example, to understand this more, let's consider the inheritance or portion of land that the tribe of Judah received, as recorded in Joshua. Fifteen versus one to two. There we read the allotment for the tribe of the people of Judah, according to their clans, reached southward to the boundary of Edom, to the Wilderness of Zin at the furthest south, and their South Band boundary ran from the end of the salt sea, from the bay that faces southward. And then, having described the geographical boundaries, in verse twenty, there it says so importantly, this is the inheritance. It could be translated portion. This is the portion of the tribe of Judah according to their clans. The account here in scripture of assigning specific portions of the land to each of the various tribes continues on through a number of chapters in the book of Joshua, with each tribe receiving their own portion, their own inheritance of the promised land in which they could settle old and call their own. But okay,...

...and this is extremely significant, so bear with me as I'm kind of developing this background to this idea of portion very significantly for the tribe of Levi. Do you know what they inherited the tribe of Levi, rather than being given a territory, instead, they were given cities, forty eight cities total, priestly cities distributed throughout the promised land. And this, of course, the distribution of those cities around the Promised Land, was done so they could be better available to the Israelites throughout the land. But this raises a huge question. All those tribes got got land, but the Levites only got cities. So so the question is, were they short changed, not getting any real land? You know, I wonder if this had taken place today, the Levites merely getting cities, not land. I almost wonder if we might, if this happened today, if we might end up turning on the evening news to scenes of the Levites picketing Moses. You know, the tent of meeting with signs Yahweh is unfair. We deserve land also in our day and age. That probably the least of what would happen. So were they short changed? To find the answer, consider Joshua Thirteen, verse thirty three. But to the tribe of Levi, Moses gave no inheritance. The Lord, God of Israel, is their inheritance or portion. Do you get that? He gave no land, but the Lord is their portion, he is their inheritance. So that's it, you see, that's the point. They didn't get mere land, they got God, they got Christ, they got the Lord as their portion. And that then takes us to numbers, Chapter Eighteen, verse twenty, where we read and the Lord said to Aaron, you shall have no inheritance in their land. Neither show you have a portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance. That's actually awesome. Now this brings us to the to really the heart issue for understanding the significance of Psalm one hundred nineteen, verse fifty seven, where the psalmists declared the Lord, the Lord is my portion. Again, who got the better deal in the distribution of the land? Was it the the eleven tribes who received actual land, real dirt that they could pick down a bend down and pick up...

...and and and declare this this is mine, this is given to me by the Lord. They got real land in which they could they could build a home and farm, raise sheep pass on down to their descendants from generation to generation. You see what the psalmness is doing here in verse fifty seven, is reaching back to the inheritances, back to the portions which were distributed back in the days of Joshua. And what he's saying is that what he really desires is not some piece of real estate which he knows will never ultimately satisfy the soul. As wonderful as land is. It's a wonderful thing to own land, but but he knows the things of this world. There's a limit to how much they can fill your heart and soul. So rather what he desires, he's very insightful. What he desires is that which truly can fill the heart and soul. The Lord is my portion. You See, only the Lord himself can truly bring lasting, true fullness of heart and soul. Everything else in this created world, God declared it good. Okay, I'm not. I'm not saying that at all. But everything else in this finite world is limited in what it can give, in what it can provide. Everything and anything else will only disappoint and let you down in the end. If that's what you place your ultimate hope and satisfaction in, and we all know this from our own personal experience in life. This is why we spend a lifetime grasping after more and more. This is why we have the credit card debt that we have. This is why so many Christians, to borrow a phrase, I think it's from Dave Ramsey, this is why so many Christians are driving their ties. You see, we try, as James Voice observes, to possess God is to have everything. Do you believe that to possess God is truly to have everything? That is a faith challenging, faith expanding statement. Now Dr Ligoan Duncan, one of my former professors, makes a very interesting and spot on observation regarding verse fifty seven. In this idea of the Lord being our portion, he points out that the greatest gift that...

...the Lord gives really and truly is himself. In other words, if you're trusting in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, then as a result, and this is the part we're all familiar with, if you're trusting in Christ, as a result you've received the full forgiveness of every single one of your sins and you've also been justified. There's a good Lutheran doctrine for you and and reform. You've been justified. What justified means is you've been made right with God. God is no longer scowling down upon you because of your sin. He's now smiling on you. We've received the forgiveness for every one of our sins. We've been justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ, and that's where we tend to leave it, isn't it? The benefits of Christ, but hold on to your seats, because this can be startling. Please realize having all of your sins forgiven through Christ and having the perfect obedience of Christ credited to you, neither one of these absolutely necessary benefits of Christ's work constitutes the highest gift that God gives us. Rather, the highest and the greatest gift that God gives to us in Christ is himself. It's himself. Think about it. We receive forgiveness so that we might not be condemned and so that God's wrath against us might be turned away. And we receive justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, so that we might be pardoned of all of our sins, so we might be declared righteous in God's sight. But even our forgiveness, even justification is not the ultimate blessing of of the work of Christ. The whole goal of Christ's work is so that we might be reconciled to God, and yet more than mere reconciliation. Listen Up, because this is this is truly glorious. We are saved by the work of Christ, so God again, to repeat it, so God can give us the greatest gift of all, which is himself. Verse Fifty Seven. The Lord is my portion now in this discussion. There's a chance that perhaps I've left some of you behind. Perhaps you're still thinking, yeah, but but those other tribes, they got land, don't you understand? They got something concrete, terra firma, something solid, something real, something they...

...can use, something that can benefit them every day of life. Isn't it better to have good things now? In fact, isn't it better to have, to use the phrase, our best life now? Wouldn't it be be better to hold in our hands that winning laud'll ticket were several hundred million? Would that be better? When you like that ticket? In answer to these very real questions, these very real struggles, please realize there's nothing new in in these sorts of questions. In Psalm seventy three. The psalmness struggled over the prosperity the wicked, and maybe you have. He struggled over the fact that the wicked were prospering. He writes Psalm Seventy three, verses three and four. I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked, for they have no pangs until death. Their bodies are fat and sleek, they're not in trouble as others are. They're not stricken like the rest of mankind. But then the psalmnists after confessing to God. I envy the wicked. Look at what they've got. Then he continues a little later, versus sixteen, seventeen eighteen. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God. Then I discerned their end. Truly, you set them in slippery places, you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept the way utterly by terrors. Now the words what might look to us at first glance even a longer observation. They're the ones prospering, they're the ones happy in life. They're the ones that have it all. In the end, in the end, in a moment, they will be destroyed. What good? Think about this for a moment. What good are riches and prosperity and even health if your fate is to be swept away in the end to the eternal fires of God's judgment? For what does it Prophet Jesus asked, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? In fact, this is part of what makes hell hell. Hell is comprised of a deep, deep, empty, empty ache, ache, anguish, never ever even for an instant peace fullness, only and everlasting thirst and and ae that never can be quenched. So, with...

...this in mind, consider again the statement the Lord is my portion. Thomas Boston suggests that we imagine taking all the good things that we value in life. And if you're like me, there's a lot of good things that I value in life. I'm grateful to God for them. They are gifts from him. Okay, I'm not saying let's go out sell everything, start a monastery where you know, clothes, like John the Baptist and so forth. No, but but like Thomas Boston, suggests. We need to get these things into perspective. So let's imagine that we take all the good things which we value in life and we place them on one side of a scale or a balance, and then place all the Excellencies of Christ on the other side. Do you know what would happen? Christ would outweigh all of those things which you value, what you're pursuing in life. He would. He would outweigh them his excellencies, by magnitudes. Another illustration he suggests imagining all of those things that you value as being like stars up in the night sky. Beautiful Stars, beautiful night sky in many places, here in Arizona at least, as you look up at those stars in a night sky, you behold their beauty, bright and sparkling there in the dark sky. But when the sun rises in the morning, every single star totally completely disappears because the sun is magnitudes brighter than every single one of those night stars. So also when we compare the brilliance and the glory and the fullness of Christ to everything that we can grasp after in life, absolutely everything else pails in comparison. The Lord is my portion consider Moses to try and illustrate this little more. Consider Moses, when he asked the preincarnate Christ, show me Your glory. That was a fabulous request on the part of Moses, wasn't it? Show me Your glory. And the Lord responded by placing Moses in the the safety of that gap, amongst those rocks, those boulders, and and he placed them there to shield him from the sheer, resplendent glory. And the Lord then passed before Moses, proclaiming the Lord, the Lord a God, Merciful and Gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin. You See, the...

...glory of the Lord is the glory impart in large part, the glory of Christ, inward being bursting forth in blinding magnificence. The Glory of Christ is the glory of His love, His mercy, His grace, his goodness. It's the glory of his Justice, his wrath, His Holiness, his wisdom, his truth, his tenderness, his compassion, His Majesty. Can you maybe at least get a hint then, that everything else that we value, that we seek our happiness in, it's not that we throw it away. But to gain perspective, it pales in comparison to the glory, that Resplendent Glory of Jesus Christ. And thus there there is nothing more wonderful in life than to be able to really say, to stand alongside the somnist here and say the Lord, Yahweh is my portion. Yeah, way is my portion, consider also the Lord being our portion. In light of Psalm one hundred eighteen, verse one, there to Psalmnas calls us, Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. His steadfast love endures forever. This verse then begins with a call for us to do something very special. Were called to give thanks to the Lord. But why? Why give thanks to the Lord? Why should our hearts be filled with gratitude? Well, the answer is at least twofold. At least twofold. First, were to give thanks, as a psalm that says here, because the Lord, the Lord, really is good. And second, were to give thanks because his goodness experienced by his people, is experienced by his people in the fact that his steadfast love last a few weeks, okay, years, okay. Well, we'll stretch it a little bit. The Lord Steadfast love lasts a few years. Right now. That's that's our problem, isn't it? The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. It endures forever. We live in a world where people fall in love and they fall out of love, people fail in enduring in their commitment, enduring in...

...their love, where we're a culture of divorce, where a culture where we expect divorce as an illustration and in our fallen state we are unreliable, we let each other down. But note carefully that we're told in Psalm one hundred eighteen and else where in scripture, we're told that Christ's love for us is a very special kind of love. It's a love which is steadfast, it's a love which endures forever, and I absolutely love the way that Dr Duncan describes this special divine love. He calls it the love which will never let us go, the love which will never let us go. He writes the Psalmness is celebrating the fact that God remains steadfast and immovable in his love for us, despite our undeserving despite our wanderings and despite our failings and are stumbling. This is the steadfast love of God to Israel, that despite Israel's failings, God kept his promises to her. Think about that. The whole story of the Old Testament repeated failure, repeated apostasy, repeated idolatry, and yet God kept his steadfast love for Israel, continuing to build the case that we should desire the Lord to be our portion. Consider we're created in the very image of God and thus we are made to know God intimately. That is how we were made at in our deepest being. We're made to love him, to know him, to enjoy him and consider further, all good things come from God and are found in God. So let's think about our situation here in this world. Due to our sin, due to our sin, due to our rebellion, due to our lack of trust, we're alienated from God. That's the human condition. We're alienated from God. In fact, we're under his wrath and judgment. But when we embrace Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, as I've said earlier, all of our sins are forgiven. We're restored back to God such that he becomes our God and we become his people. And you have to understand something very, very important about God and our lives. Set Augustine, or Ustin, if you prefer, Saint Augustine so famously said. Lord, you have made us for yourself, and...

...our hearts are restless until they find the rest in you. Were made for God, and we will be restless, always wandering, always striving, until we find our rest in God, in Christ. Then we regain the deepest need of our hearts, of our souls, of our being and intimate personal covenant relationship with God himself. For in Christ, were told by the Apostle Paul, for in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Have you considered that before? In Christ the fullness of God dwells. After all, he is God, right, that's an embracing Christ by faith, knowing him deeply, should be our greatest treasure, our greatest portion, and this is because Christ, through Christ, God gives us himself, and thus our restless hearts and souls and minds finally find their rest, their portion, their fullness in him. Think about it. No matter what you attain on Earth, matter what you attain on Earth, and and all of you young people here this morning, you have your you've heard this before. You have your life ahead of you and you probably have goals and aspirations, and that's awesome. God wants us to aspire, to achieve for his glory, to live for his glory. But you also have to understand something. No matter what you may attain on Earth, it will never truly fill, it will never fully satisfy your heart and your soul. It was never meant to fully fill, fully satisfy. You can you can marry the most wonderful, beautiful person imaginable, and yet your heart won't find its fullness in them. During the honeymoon stage you may think you found it. You know. You can attain riches and have all that. Riches can buy multiple homes, fabulous home spread throughout the world, possessions that the the finest foods. You can attain fame, power, sex. You can have the greatest body muscles, sexy, beautiful. It's a trap. You won't find your rest, whatever you can think of in this world. It's not God and it won't be able to to really give you your rest. It will never truly be able to satisfy. Why? Because everything in this world is finite, it's it's limited.

It can only give so much and then there's nothing more it can give. There's an end, there's a limit. But then the Lord. Consider this. The Lord is our portion. He's infinite. He's without limit, whether it be is love or goodness, or joy or grace or provision, even his very person. He truly is without limit in all of his qualities and being in person. Please understand only the infinite Lord can fill your restless heart and soul. This then brings us to the rest of of our verse. Here I've only done the first half of Verse Fifty Seven. The Lord is my portion. The second part is, I promise to keep your words. I promise to keep your words. How, when I read that, my question is, how can the psalmnist dare to make such a promise? I'm going to keep your word, I'm going to keep your commandments. How can you dare to make that kind of promise to God? It's because really realizing, coming to grips with the fact that the Lord, he's our portion, goes a long way in enabling us to resist temptation to sin. Because what is temptation to sin? What is it but seeking to find our happiness, our joy, our pleasure, a high in something apart from God. And if we begin to realize the God is our true portion, we can begin to say no when temptation strikes. And so what I'm going to do now is clothes with a quote from Thomas Brooks, which I believe shows us the way to endure temptation and just keeps and thus keep God's word, through realizing the Lord is our portion. The Very Wise Puritan Pastor Thomas Brooks writes this little bit lengthy. Hang in there. I would counsel every Christian to answer all temptations with this short saying. The Lord is my portion. It's awesome temptation hits Internet, whatever, porn whatever. The Lord is my portion is how you answer that temptation. He goes, he says, Oh Christian, when Satan or the world shall tempt you with honors, answer the Lord is my portion. When they shall tempt you with riches. Answer the Lord is my portion. When they shall tempt you with a promotion. Answer the...

Lord is my portion when they shall tempt you with the favors of great ones. Answer the Lord is my portion. Yea. And when this persecuting world shall threaten you with the loss of all you have, answer the Lord is my portion, and when they shall threaten you with the loss of your freedom, answer the Lord is my portion, and when they shall threaten you with the loss of friends, answer the Lord is my portion, and when they shall threaten you with the loss of life, answer the Lord is my portion. Oh, sir, if Satan shall come to you with an apple, as once he did to eve, tell him the Lord is my portion, or with a grape, as he once did to Noah. Tell him that the Lord is your portion, or with expensive clothing, as once he did to Gohazi. Tell him that the Lord is your portion, or with a wedge of gold, as once he did to Aken. Tell him that the Lord is your portion, or a bag of money, as he once did the Judas. Tell him what the Lord is your portion, or with a princely crown, as he once did to Moses. Tell him the Lord is your portion. Let's pray.

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