You are my portion, Lord;(Ps. 119:57-64 NIV)
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
When the land was divided up at the time of Joshua the Levites were given no portion of land and it was said that the Lord was their portion. Earlier when we were looking at Psalm 16, we saw that David was on the run from Saul. As a member of the tribe of Judah he had a claim to some land, but he was a fugitive and he could say:
LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.(Ps. 16:5-6 NIV)
He truly knew that the Lord was his portion because at that time the Lord was all he had. The writer of Ecclesiastes has as his theme, that we should accept the lot in life that God has given us. The apostle Paul gives similar advice to the younger Timothy
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.(1 Tim. 6:6-11 NIV)
It is hard for us to accept the Lord as our portion when we have competing agendas in life. The Psalmist saw that the most important thing in life is to put the Lord first. If other things didn’t work out, it didn’t trouble him,= because his priorities had been set by the word of God.
Seeking the face of God is to seek to have God turn His face towards us and do us good. The Psalmist has sought the Lord’s blessing with all his heart. Though the Psalmist has endeavoured to put his whole heart into seeking the Lord he still has to acknowledge that blessing should come not because of his zeal but because of the graciousness of the Lord.
The Psalmist has considered his ways in the light of God’s word allowing God to probe his heart through the light of the word.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.(Ps. 139:23-24 NIV)
Search me O God and know my heart today:
To turn our steps towards the Lord’s word is to repent of the way that we were going and do an about turn into the way of the Lord. The Psalmist is gripped with a sense of urgency and wants to hasten towards obedience. Sometimes we make the excuse that we are already well through the journey. But now is the time to hasten and pursue the Lord with all our heart.
There are many wicked people who try to set traps for us to fall. In the Psalmist’s case the wicked had been mocking him, and he says ‘even if they tie me with ropes I will still follow God’s word’. We have a similar way of expressing this idea, ‘wild horses couldn’t drag me from it.’
The Psalmist pledges to arise at midnight to give God thanks for His righteous word. We need to be careful that we don’t see this as a literal pattern for us to follow. We are all different, some will stay up late at night, some will rise early in the morning. Don’t be forced into doing what someone else finds it easy to do with regard to their time. If you get up at 5 in the morning and then are no use the rest of the day, you really have chosen the wrong time. My father had an early start in the mornings. He would rise to be able to leave home at 3.45am. He used to kneel down to pray before he left home. My youngest brother used to get out of bed and go down and kneel with my father, and then he would go back to bed. That was something he could manage.
The Psalmist has an affinity to all who keep the word of God. It is much like the importance of the church being the family of God that we looked at on Sunday.
I have just started reading a book today where the whole book is a letter that a dying father is writing to his only son. By the time the son is old enough to be given the letter his father will have gone to be with the Lord. The father, whose time is short, describes all the beauties that he sees around him, and takes time to notice the little things in nature and in other people that go into making our lives as rich as they are. The Psalmist expresses the same sentiment as he describes the whole earth as being filled with the Father’s love. Next time you watch a nature programme and you see perhaps marine life with all their different shapes and colours, remind yourself that even in the depths of the ocean that have not been observed until recent times, the marine world is filled with God’s love.
LeisureWilliam Henry Davies
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
O Lord our God, how excellent is Your name in all the earth. Your works are all around us to witness and we thank You that in Your word You have given us many great and precious promises. Give us time to pause and rejoice in the beauty of creation and all Your many temporal blessings, but mostly, help us to ‘stand and stare’ at the riches of Your love revealed in the revelation of salvation. Teach us Your way for Christ our saviour’s sake, in whose name we pray. Amen.