In this section the Psalmist seems to take firm hold upon God himself; appropriating him ( Psalms 119:57 ), crying out for him ( Psalms 119:58 ), returning to him ( Psalms 119:59 ), solacing himself in him ( Psalms 119:61-62 ), associating with his people ( Psalms 119:63 ), and sighing for personal experience of his goodness ( Psalms 119:64 ). Note how the first verse of this octave is linked to the last of the former one, of which indeed it is an expanded repetition. "This I had because I kept thy precepts. Thou art my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep thy words."
Verse 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. A broken sentence. The translators have mended it by insertions, but perhaps it had been better to have left it alone, and then it would have appeared as an exclamation, -- "My portion, O Lord!" The poet is lost in wonder while he sees that the great and glorious God is all his own! Well might he be so, for there is no possession like Jehovah himself. The form of the sentence expresses joyous recognition and appropriation, -- "My portion, O Jehovah!" David had often seen the prey divided, and heard the victors shouting over it; here he rejoices as one who seizes his share of the spoil; he chooses the Lord to be his part of the treasure. Like the Levites, he took God to be his portion, and left other matters to those who coveted them. This is a large and lasting heritage, for it includes all, and more than all, and it outlasts all; and yet no man chooses it for himself until God has chosen and renewed him. Who that is truly wise could hesitate for a moment when the infinitely blessed God is set before him to be the object of his choice? David leaped at the opportunity, and grasped the priceless boon. Our author here dares exhibit the title deeds of his portion before the eye of the Lord himself, for he addresses his joyful utterance directly to God whom he boldly calls his own. With much else to choose from, for he was a king, and a man of great resources, Ire deliberately turns from all the treasures of the world, and declares that the Lord, even Jehovah, is his portion.
I have said that I would keep thy words. We cannot always look back with comfort upon what we have said, but in this instance David had spoken wisely and well. He had declared his choice: he preferred the word of God to the wealth of worldlings. It was his firm resolve to keep -- that is, treasure up and observe -- the words of his God, and as he had aforetime solemnly expressed it in the presence of the Lord himself, so here he confesses the binding obligation of his former vow. Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words," and this is a case which he might have quoted as an illustration; for the Psalmist's love to God as his portion led to his keeping the words of God. David took God to be his Prince as well as his Portion. He was confident as to his interest in God, and therefore he was resolute in his obedience to him. Full assurance is a powerful source of holiness. The very words of God are to be stored up; for whether they relate to doctrine, promise, or precept, they are most precious. When the heart is determined to keep these words, and has registered its purpose in the court of heaven, it is prepared for all the temptations and trials that may befall it; for, with God as its heritage, it is always in good case.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
This begins a new division of the Psalm, indicated by the Hebrew letter Cheth, which may be represented in English by hh. -- Albert Barnes.
Verse 57-64. In this section David laboureth to confirm his faith, and to comfort himself in the certainty of his regeneration, by eight properties of a sound believer, or eight marks of a new creature. The first whereof is his choosing of God for his portion. Whence learn,
- Such as God hath chosen and effectually called, they get grace to make God their choice, their delight, and their portion; and such as have chosen God for their portion have an evidence of their regeneration and election also; for here David maketh this a mark of his regeneration: Thou art my portion.
- It is another mark of regeneration, after believing in God, and choosing him for our portion, to resolve to bring forth the fruits of faith in new obedience, as David did: I have said that I would keep thy words.
- As it is usual for God's children, now and then because of sin falling out, to be exercised with a sense of God's displeasure, so it is a mark of a new creature not to lie stupid and senseless under this exercise, but to deal with God earnestly, for restoring the sense of reconciliation, and giving new experience of his mercy, as the Psalmist did; I intreated thy favour with my whole heart; and this is the third evidence of a new creature.
- The penitent believer hath the word of grace and the covenant of God for his assurance to be heard when he seeketh mercy: Be merciful unto me according to thy word.
- The searching in what condition we are in, and examination of our ways according to the word, and renewing of repentance, with an endeavour of amendment, is a fourth mark of a new creature: I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
- When we do see our sin we are naturally slow to amend our doings; but the sooner we turn us to the way of God's obedience, we speed the better, and the more speedy the reforming of our life be, the more sound mark is it of a new creature: I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
- Enduring of persecution and spoiling of our goods, for adhering to God's word, without forsaking of his cause, is a fifth mark of a new creature: The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
- As it is the lot of God's children who resolve to be godly, to suffer persecution, and to be forced either to lose their temporal goods or else to lose a good cause and a good conscience; so it is the wisdom of the godly to remember what the Lord's word requireth of us and speaketh unto us, and this shall comfort our conscience more than the loss of things temporal can trouble our minds: The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
- A sixth mark of a new creature is, to be so far from fretting under hard exercise as to thank God in secret cheerfully for his gracious word, and for all the passages of his providence, where none seeth us, and where there is no hazard of ostentation: At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
- A seventh mark of a renewed creature is, to associate ourselves and keep communion with such as are truly gracious, and do fear God indeed, as we are able to discern them: I am a companion of all them that fear thee.
- The fear of God is evidenced by believing and obeying the doctrine and direction of the Scripture, and no other ways: I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
- The eighth mark of a new creature is, not to rest in any measure of renovation, but earnestly to deal with God for the increase of saving knowledge, and fruitful obedience of it; for, Teach me thy statutes, is the prayer of the man of God, in whom all the former marks are found.
- As the whole of the creatures are witnesses of God's bounty to man, and partakers of that bounty themselves, so are they pawns of God's pleasure to bestow upon his servants greater gifts than these, even the increase of sanctification, in further illumination of mind and reformation of life: for this the Psalmist useth for an argument to be more and more sanctified: The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes. David Dickson.
Verse 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. The sincerity of this claim may be gathered, because he speaks by way of address to God. He doth not say barely, "He is my portion"; but challengeth God to his face:
Thou art my portion, O LORD. Elsewhere it is said, "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul" ( Lamentations 3:24 ). There he doth not speak it by way of address to God, but he adds, "saith my soul"; but here to God himself, who knows the secrets of the heart. To speak thus of God to God, argues our sincerity, when to God's face we avow our trust and choice; as Peter, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee" ( John 21:17 ). Thomas Manton.
Verse 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. Luther counsels every Christian to answer all temptations with this short saying, "Christianus sum," I am a Christian; and I would counsel every Christian to answer all temptations with this short saying, "The Lord is my portion." O Christian, when Satan or the world shall tempt thee with honours, answer, "The Lord is my portion"; when they shall tempt thee with riches, answer, "The Lord is my portion"; when they shall tempt thee with preferments, answer, "The Lord is my portion"; and when they shall tempt thee with the favours of great ones, answer, "The Lord is my portion"; yea, and when this persecuting world shall threaten thee with the loss of thy estate, answer, "The Lord is my portion": and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of thy liberty, answer, "The Lord is my portion"; and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of friends, answer, "The Lord is my portion"; and when they shall threaten thee with the loss of life, answer, "The Lord is my portion." O, sir, if Satan should come to thee with an apple, as once he did to Eve, tell him that "the Lord is your portion"; or with a grape, as once he did to Noah, tell him that "the Lord is your portion"; or with a change of raiment, as once he did to Gehazi, tell him that "the Lord is your portion"; or with a wedge of gold, as once he did to Achan, tell him that "the Lord is your portion"; or with a bag of money, as once he did to Judas, tell him that "the Lord is your portion"; or with a crown, a kingdom, as once he did to Moses, tell him that "the Lord is your portion." Thomas Brooks.
Verse 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. God is all sufficient; get him for your "portion", and you have all; then you have infinite wisdom to direct you, infinite knowledge to teach you, infinite mercy to pity, and save you, infinite love to care and comfort you, and infinite power to protect and keep you. If God be yours, all his attributes are yours; all his creatures, all his works of providence, shall do you good, as you have need of them. He is an eternal, full, satisfactory portion. He is an ever living, ever loving, ever present friend; and without him you are a cursed creature in every condition, and all things will work against you. John Mason, --1694.
Verse 57. Thou art my portion, O LORD. If there was a moment in the life of David in which one might feel inclined to envy him, it would not be in that flush of youthful victory, when Goliath lay prostrate at his feet, nor in that hour of even greater triumph, when the damsels of Israel sang his praise in the dance, saying, "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands"; it would not be on that royal day, when his undisputed claim to the throne of Israel was acknowledged on every side and by every tribe; but it would be in that moment when, with a loving and trustful heart, he looked up to God and said, "Thou art my portion." In a later Psalm (142), which bears with it as its title, "A prayer of David, when he was in the cave," we have the very same expression: "I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living." It adds immeasurably to such an expression, if we believe it to have been uttered at a time when every other possession and inheritance was taken from him, and the Lord alone was his portion. --Barton Bouchier.
Verse 57. -- He is an exceedingly covetous fellow to whom God is not sufficient; and he is an exceeding fool to whom the world is sufficient. For God is all inexhaustible treasury of all riches, sufficing innumerable men; while the world has mere trifles and fascinations to offer, and leads the soul into deep and sorrowful poverty. --Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 57. -- They who are without an ample patrimony in this life, may make to themselves a portion in heavenly blessedness. --Solomon Gessler.
Verse 57. -- I have said that I would keep thy words. This he brings in by way of proving that which he said in the former words. Many will say with David, that God is their portion; but here is the point: how do they prove it? If God were their portion, they would love him; if they loved him they would love his word; if they loved his word they would live by it and make it the rule of their life. --William Cowper.
Verse 57. -- I have said that I would keep thy words. He was resolved to keep his commandments, lay up his promises, observe his ordinances, profess and retain a belief in his doctrines. --John, Gill.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Outlines Upon Keywords of the Psalm, By Pastor C. A. Davis.
Verse 57-64. -- The believer's portion. The Lord is the believer's portion ( Psalms 119:57 ); heartily sought ( Psalms 119:58-60 ); remaining though all else be taken away ( Psalms 119:61 ); causing joy even at midnight ( Psalms 119:62 ), and the selection of congenial company (Ps 119:63-64).
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 57. --
- The infinite possession: "Thou art my portion, O LORD." Notice --
(a) A clear distinction made by the Psalmist between his
portion and that of the ungodly here and hereafter:
See Psalms 48:2 .
(b) positive claim: "Thou art my portion, O LORD." This
"portion" is boundless, abiding, appropriate, satisfying,
elevating, all of grace.
- The appropriate resolution: "I have said that I would keep thy words."
- Notice the preface: "I have said."
(b) The link between the portion possessed and the
(c) The work of keeping God's words. Keep him who is the
Word -- Christ Jesus. Keep the word of the gospel --
doctrines, precepts, promises (kept in the heart to comfort
the believer). This blessed subject suggests a solemn
contrast. See the portion of that servant who did not keep
his Lord's word: Matthew 24:48-51 . See "Spurgeon's Sermons,"
No. 1372: "God our Portion, and his Word our Treasure."
Verse 57. (first clause). -- The believer's portion.
- Show the validity of his claim: "my."
(a) A gift by covenant: Hebrews 8:10-13 .
(b) Involved in joint heirship with Christ: Romans 8:17 .
(c) Confirmed by the experience of faith.
- Survey the superlative value of his possession: "The Lord."
(a) Absolutely good.
(b) Infinitely precious.
(c) Inexhaustibly full.
(d) Everlastingly sure.
- Suggest a method of deriving the greatest present advantage from it.
- Meditate much upon God, under the conviction that he is
- Meditate much upon God, under the conviction that he is
(b) Carry all cares to him, and cast every burden on him.
(c) Refer every temptation to the word of his law, and
every doubt to the word of his promise.
(d) Draw largely upon his riches to meet every need as it
arises. --John Field, of Sevenoaks, 1882.
Verse 57-58. -- The believer's estate, profession, and petition.