God Our Great Portion!

Posted on September 23, 2020

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By David Ettinger

A “Getting Older” Verse
Since turning 60, I’ve had various physical ailments, and I’m sure plenty still await. And I know my blogging friends older than me are experiencing the same – and more – because they periodically write about their bouts with aging-related infirmities.

Suffice it to say, our mortal flesh is flimsy and feeble, and not designed for eternal duration.

This does not mean, however, we are without hope. As the years pass and our bodies continue to decay, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are blessed beyond measure, and God our Father has been gracious enough to make sure we know this!

He does this in several places throughout His Word, but my favorite is one of the great “getting older” passages, Psalm 73:26: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Let’s briefly explore this uplifting verse.

A Contrast
The word “may” here seems inaccurate. Shouldn’t the text say, “My flesh and my heart WILL fail”? Physically speaking, yes, it should say “will.” Even for those who age wonderfully well, their bodies WILL decay.

The use of the word “may” here serves not as a degree of probability, but as a literary device to illustrate contrast. This is the author Asaph’s way of saying, “Though now you are aging and your body is weakening, by contrast you have an amazing future!”

So, there is no “may” about it: Your flesh and your heart MAY not fail, but WILL fail. This is the price of sin, and no human being is immune from it.

Our “Portion”
However – and it is a magnificent however – that our flesh and hearts WILL fail is not the final word on the matter. When that ultimate “failure” – death – occurs, we as believers in the Lord Jesus have something awaiting us which will wipe away all tears, and heal all wounds. That something is our “portion,” and that portion is almighty God!

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for portion is cheleq, and it (and its derivations) is used numerous times and with varying shades of meaning. In general, cheleq refers to a tract of land, territory, or inheritance.

However, in Psalm 73:26, cheleq is used in the sense of “possession” – as granted to servants by their masters – or as allocations of the sacrificial offerings given to the Levitical priests who serve at the altar.

The idea is one of provision. Servants must eat, and it is their masters who must provide them with their sustenance. The same for the priests, whom God ordained would be sustained from the altar offerings which were not wholly burned up (Leviticus 7:31-32, 34).

In the same way, God has declared that He Himself is our portion, but a far superior portion than that allotted servants and priests. Psalm 73:26 affirms to God’s children that we will be “spiritually sustained” for eternity. The implication is that yes, our bodies in this mortal realm will decay and die, but our spirits will be renewed and reinvigorated by God when we begin our eternal existences.

It was not until the New Testament that the details of this eternal existence – what our bodies will be like – would be revealed (1 Corinthians 15:35-58), but at least Old Testament believers had the assurance that there would be life after death, and that the Lord would be the all-consuming sustainer of that life.

We have this same assurance today. So yes, our bodies are aging and decaying, but each passing day brings us nearer to God our great portion – our sustenance, our cheleq – and all the eternal blessings which go with it.

May this soaring assurance sustain your heart in these challenging days!