There’s a lot of talk these days about self evaluation and life inventory. And that can be a good thing. Psalm 119:59 speaks of taking time to consider where we are at and where we are going. However, a lot of the talk today centers around self: making time for yourself and giving yourself room. But what is the meaning in Psalm 119?
To find the answer, we go back to the beginning of this “stanza” (remember, this Psalm is a giant acrostic with 22 sections of 8 verses each). This section begins by saying—
“The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your word.” (v. 57)
The focus for us is on the first line: “the Lord is my portion.” So simple, yet so profound. In many ways, the Psalmist sets forth this phrase as his thesis, then provides a series of six proofs or examples of how that is demonstrated.
But we may be wondering—what does it mean for the Lord to be our “portion?” The Hebrew word means “portion, share, track…of land” (1). In an agricultural setting, the land you owned was of highest importance. It was your sustenance, your livelihood, your inheritance—it was everything. That is the view we should have of our relationship with the Lord. When the Psalmist calls God his “portion,” he is basically saying that his relationship with the Lord is the most important and valuable part of his life. Everything else flows from this priority.
As I said a moment ago, the rest of this stanza provides proof of what the Psalmist says. In verse 58, he says that he has set his “heart” on seeking God’s “favor.” His relationship with the Lord also affects his behavior (v. 59), his faithfulness (61), his thoughts (62), his friendships (63), and his worldview (64). There’s a lot we could dig into with each of these, but notice the scope of what they cover. The Psalmist’s relationship with God doesn’t just affect the mental parts of who he is. It doesn’t just impact his physical actions. Every aspect of his life is directed, informed, and empowered by his relationship with the Lord.
That should make us pause and consider—do we have that same attitude? Or have we unconsciously slipped into the mindset of “crazy Angels” and “This is How We Roll?” Or to drop the country music references, do we act a certain way at church then live totally different throughout the rest of the week? Can we honestly say that we are choosing God as our highest priority and letting that relationship effect every part of who we are?
And that is what the self-evaluation of Psalm 119:59 is all about. The Psalmist says, “I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies.” He looked at his life and measured it by the standard of Scripture. When he saw part of his life swerving from the right path, he course-corrected and realigned himself with the Lord. We should follow the same example. Regardless of how far we may have consciously or unconsciously swerved, we need to come back to center. We must keep our relationship with the Lord as our highest priority. As we do that and commit to walking in the Spirit, the rest of life will be impacted. That’s one of the conclusions we draw from 2 Corinthians 11:3 when Paul urges believers to hold fast to “the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” We sometimes make the Christian life more complicated than what it needs to be. We should seek to bring God’s Word to bear on every part of life, but we will more naturally and accurately do so if we have committed to a focused relationship with the Lord. In other words, if we have truly made Jesus our “portion.”
1 “H2506 – ḥēleq – Strongs Hebrew Lexicon (NASB95).” Blue Letter Bible, 2022. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h2506/nasb95/wlc/0-1/.