The Lord is My Portion

Posted by Matt Postiff October 19, 2013 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Bible Texts 

Have you ever wondered what this verse means?

"The LORD is my portion," says my soul.

That is verse 24 of Lamentations chapter 3, part of one of the most well-known and beloved passages of Scripture that talks about the Lord's compassions being new every morning. Great indeed is the faithfulness of God!

But what does "portion" mean in verse 24? A little word study helps clarify its sense. It is from a Hebrew word "helek" which according to the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament means (1) a share of booty, (2) share of possession, or (3) metaphorically to describe of the relationship between God and man.

Nehemiah 2:20 uses it in sense #2 when responding to the enemies who were trying to stop the work of rebuilding: "The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage (portion) or right or memorial in Jerusalem." The enemies did not have a share of possession in Jerusalem and so had no right to meddle in the work.

Joshua 14:3-4 uses it in a similar sense: "But to the Levites he had given no inheritance among them...And they gave no part to the Levites in the land, except cities to dwell in..." The Levites had no inheritance = portion = possession in the land as the other tribes did.

The most helpful use of the word for purposes of defining it is in Numbers 18:20: "Then the LORD said to Aaron: 'You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.'"

In this single verse, the word is used in both senses #2 and #3. In the first use, the LORD uses the word synonymously with Joshua 14:3-4 about a share of possession in the land. In the second use, the LORD says that He Himself is the portion of the Levites. In this way, the LORD says that His ministers are not to focus themselves on a possession of land, but rather upon their "possession" of God. God is better than any possession they might own, particularly in this transient world. They have a supremely valuable relationship to the LORD. This is something like what we mean when we say "I am His and He is mine."

So when Jeremiah says that the Lord is his portion, He is saying that he has a precious relationship with God. When everything else is taken away, if you are a Christian, then you still have God, and He is all you need.

May God be your ever-satisfying portion!

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