The LORD is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
Psalm 119:57 ESV
Here we arrive at the eighth stanza of Psalm 119, where each of its eight verses begins with the Hebrew letter heth. This first verse begins with two related declarations: The LORD is my portion and I promise to keep your words.
First, the psalmist declares that the LORD is his portion. Two images come readily to mind when thinking of a portion: land and food. A portion of land carries the connotation of having a place to dwell, a refuge from the chaos of the world to call home. A portion of food makes one think of sustenance and satisfaction, of being safe once more from the danger of hunger.
Yet while food and land are certainly great blessings, God Himself is far greater, for He is the Maker and Giver of both. Thus, He is Himself far superior to them. Food will sustain for a moment, and land can always be taken away. But who is mighty enough to take us from God’s hand whenever He has claimed us as His own? Indeed, He is the only sure and steadfast portion. He is the great treasure that cannot be stolen nor eaten by moths. Like Abraham, we are called to seek a better land and country, “that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16). And we are called to not live by bread alone but “by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:5).
Indeed, perhaps that is the connection between the first line and the second, between the LORD is my portion and I promise to keep your words. The psalmist pledges to keep God’s words because they are sustaining, satisfying, and enduring words. He sees that God’s Word is not burdensome but life-giving, for they come from the mouth of the Giver of life. How could they be anything less?
May we likewise promise to keep God’s Word, not out of religious pride as the Pharisees did, but because God is our portion. Indeed, may Peter’s words to Jesus also be our own: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).