Portion Control

Psalm 119:57-64

Life a lot like Old Chunky Buffay – pay your money, take your pick, all you can eat of whatever you want. Don’t worry, if you can’t manage to try everything in one go, come back tomorrow; you’ll be hungry again. As long as you watch how much you put on your plate each time, you’ll still fit through the door. It’s called “portion control”. Right amounts of right stuff even at Old Chunky and you can stay pretty healthy. However, there’s one significant difference with life. One choice is different from all the rest – no limits on portion size, no limits to satisfaction. Only limit is: selection. Must control our portion to include only one thing; when we do, will be totally satisfied. Pulling it off requires perseverance, commitment to single purpose.

H (het) is written in light of that tension: even though the road will be hard, the Psalmist vows that he will walk it, no matter the severity of the trials and persecution. Knowing the dangers and difficulties, the true believer vows to endure.

This section of the psalm pertinent especially for the one who is already born again; according to David Dickson, contains “eight properties of a sound believer, eight marks of a new creature. The first whereof is his choosing of God for his portion.” Idea of a “portion” basic to Jewish culture – used to refer specifically to land as the portion or inheritance.

Num. 18:20And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.”

Rest of the tribes would have their portion, their inheritance tied to specific real estate; the Levites would instead have God himself as their portion. God would supply their material needs, through means of course – tithes, particular portions of sacrifice, etc. Later in Bible, concept broadened out, expanded to describe spiritual relationship between God and his people.

Psa 73:26 – “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”; “the Lord is the portion of his people” (Deu 32:9), just as he is their refuge – Psa 142:5 “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” and so their sufficiency. TWOT

So…does God commit to being the “all-sufficient one” for his people, their portion? Or…do God’s people choose him as their portion? Answer:…yes; in reality, is both. “In this section the Psalmist seems to take firm hold upon God himself; appropriating him (57), crying out for him (58), returning to him (59), solacing himself in him (61, 62), associating with his people (63), and sighing for his personal instruction (64).” Spurgeon

For the one who would be a “sound believer”, what then must we do to regularly exercise portion control throughout life? And what can we expect when we do so?

1. What must we do to exercise portion control?

A. obey (57b, 59b, 60b)

keep God’s word – not merely thinking about it, even commending it in others; actual statement, perhaps on more than one occasion, of intention to obey

keep your words = follow your instructions: know them, understand them, apply them, act on them

return to God’s word – already in motion but needing course correction: turning feet back to God’s way and word,

the action side of repentance – change of mind that results in change of behavior / direction

obey on the first request – “delayed obedience is disobedience”; when God is truly our portion, our delight, will do what we know pleases him as soon as we figure it out

B. pray (58a)

Adoration – should be universal component, something always present in some degree, in every prayer; we pray to our Heavenly Father because we love him

Confession – again, motivation is love: have disappointed / offended / provoked Father, desire to be reconciled

Thanksgiving – is one of major encouragements to pray and supplicate: past mercies for which we are thankful

Supplication – in this case, seek the favor of God; often ask for God to show favor to others, meet their needs, provide comfort or direction

this time request is for personal benefit – second half: “be merciful to me“; far better to ask for God’s help than simply take it for granted

whole-heartedly – no divided loyalty or affection here; not a situation of “ok, might as well ask God for help”

nothing less than affirmative answer will satisfy; nothing less than something from God will satisfy; the one petitioning persists in prayer until answer is received

C. weigh (59)

think about choices and priorities – is kind of thought that looks at situation from all sides; sheet of paper, line down center, pros and cons

given circumstances, present knowledge base, is this a choice that is pleasing to God; has this been assigned the right priority in light of God’s word and ways

think about actions and potential outcomes – is it right thing done right way for right reason intended to bring about right result, as best we can tell, given limits of human perspective

D. don’t delay (60a)

covers all the bases: mind, will, body – have to think, process, apply, then act; right obedience requires =>

mind captive to word of God, will that eagerly desires to please God, body committed to obeying God

E. associate (63)

choose companions wisely – purposely seeking out / associating with people with particular worldview: God-fearers

to stay the course, continually delight in God and be satisfied with him, requires encouragement from like-minded “pilgrims”

treat companions well – is a reciprocal relationship: seeking / treasuring their friendship, returning the favor to them

Prov. 18:24A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

2. What can we expect when we exercise portion control?

A. satisfaction (57a)

closely related to Psa. 37:4Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

delight in God will be rewarded by satisfaction with God; greater delight, greater satisfaction

God doesn’t compete, is not into creative marketing in order to build customer base; if we seek satisfaction elsewhere, God doesn’t go crazy trying to persuade to come back

he does promise to meet our needs, fully, without reservation; “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20)

must of course be founded upon true knowledge of God – cannot delight in one whom we do not know and whose ways we don’t recognize

B. blessing (58b)

God has promised blessing to those who seek him – Jer. 29:13You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

every gracious act of God toward his child is a blessing; simple fact that God’s face is “toward us” is continual blessing, ultimately an eternal one

even when we displease God, is still face of compassionate Father we see, not face of stern righteous Judge

C. security (61a)

regardless of threatening words / actions of wicked, rest secure in God’s provision – is God’s word reminds us of our future prospects as well as present privileges

all that man can truly take away is nothing compared to what we have already received from God

important note: security based on God’s word, not his present perceived action – Bible filled with examples of times when God did not appear to be present / concerned / involved / active or, at least, in good way

Job is poster child; don’t forget Jesus – greatest victory world has ever known acted out in what looked like total defeat

key to proper perspective, right understanding of believer’s security: God’s self-revelation in his word

D. thanksgiving (62)

to be able and to desire to thank God for his Law is evidence of great blessing – consider great work of regeneration God has already done before we first offer up genuine thanks

“It seems to be quite a common thing professedly to assent to God when he teaches us by his law; for who would dare to lift up his voice against Him? But still the world is very far from acknowledging that the truth which he has revealed is in all respects reasonable. In the first place, such is the rebellion of our corrupt nature, that every man would have somewhat either altered or taken away. Again, if men had their choice, they would rather be governed by their own will than by the word of God. In short, human reason, as well as human passions, is widely at variance with the Divine law.” Calvin

wake up in middle of the night, what to do? count sheep? no way! think through all you have to thank God for and thank him; even if you don’t go back to sleep, time will be spent profitably

E. teaching (64)

third request in just this psalm for teaching: Psa. 119:12, 26; the kind of request God is pleased to answer

is sort of teaching that goes beyond simple intellectual pursuit / change – would be more aptly described as “training”

two things come to mind:

Matt. 11:29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Rom. 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

When we accept Jesus’ invitation – take his yoke, take him as our portion – will be fully satisfied. He will transform us, he will train us, he will provide blessing upon blessing. But…”The moment that any rival is allowed to usurp the throne of the heart, we open the door to disappointment and unsatisfied desires.” May we not do that! Instead, may God himself be our portion!


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