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.
Faith sees beyond this world, feels beyond this life, and aims beyond human rewards. Faith sees God as the central cause of the universe and the only Person and purpose worthy of dedicating one’s life to. Faith brings all of life under the Lordship of Christ, and re-interprets the values and perspectives of the world.
The average person lives a brief life on this tiny planet, struggles to survive, to raise his children, to pay his bills, to advance in his career, and then when the sum of his years are near, perhaps he will have a few moments to collect his deepest and most profound thoughts before he is separated by death from all he has known. All the knowledge he has amassed, all the memories and sentiments are then buried with him. Perhaps on his deathbed he may squeeze the hand of those nearest him – perhaps not – and pass on some conveyance of affection, but the very person he touches on that moment will also, very soon, be upon his own death bed. The mere worldly life is an exercise in futility – all is vanity, said the preacher (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
How different the one who has grasped the biblical message of God’s love, who has responded in repentance and faith to the gospel of Jesus Christ. His entire life is turned upside down – or, more correctly, right side up. The dearest thing he possesses is not his worldly things, not his money, his house, his business, or even his family or friends. His portion is none other than God, and having Him is joy enough – God is sufficient.
Psalm 16 is a Messianic psalm. Though written by David against the background of the struggles of his own life, it had a larger meaning, and many verses do not apply to David at all. Peter said that his was about Christ as he spoke on the day of Pentecost, quoting verse 10 this psalm as he preached.
‘…because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay…’
Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.
Verses 5-6 above describe the commitment of Christ to His mission, that He sought no earthly good – no comfort, no entertainment, no possession, no worldly attainment – above the will of God, specifically His mission to redeem humanity from sin. His hands were set to the plow with complete commitment, without looking back. But the attitude of Christ’s heart was not one of disappointment and misery, but of joy and gratitude. He could say that the lines had fallen for him along pleasant places. That verse was a reference to the Hebrew method of dividing the land between the tribes and families. It epitomized the attitude that not only accepts from the Father’s hand whatever falls, but even delights in it, seeing even purpose in hardship and finding joy in sorrow.
I recall once visiting an elderly widow in my church in the hospital, crippled terribly for several years with arthritis, virtually deaf, requiring all to shout. There was nothing attractive about the circumstance, and anyone could have said that they would have preferred to be elsewhere, but there was a glow about this lady that endeared her to all who knew her. This was the way the lines had fallen for her. Others would have complained, but she trusted that in these circumstances there was something glorious to be received from God and shared with others. She lived above the confines of her circumstances and through faith in Christ rose in turn to touch the heart of God and the hearts of others.
The Lord suffered on the cross, descended into hell but rose with captives in his train – though He despised the shame of the cross, for the joy set before Him, of seeing us redeemed, He endured the suffering. Rather than curse His tormentors, on the cross He forgave and blessed them, and is our Savior and Example. If the purpose of our life is to shine into the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16) then we should not curse the darkness but rather rejoice in the privilege of being a light for God.
We are most like Christ when we have this attitude, not complaining against the circumstances in which He has placed us, but letting Him use us there, just as the disciples rejoiced in the privilege of suffering persecution for the sake of Christ (Acts 5:41).
Missionary Martyr Jim Elliott wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Lord, build us up in our faith. Forgive us for our complaints and lead us to rejoice in the mission of life and witness You have entrusted to us. Show us Your sufficiency in all areas of our life. Amen.