Meditations on Psalm 119:57-58
The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words. I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
Have you ever made an empty promise? Life can be full of discouragement. Especially when we see a reflection of ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word. There in God’s Holy Word we find the depth and the reality of our sinfulness. So, is a promise to keep God’s Word even something worth saying? Well on the one hand, we know that we fall short. Always. So it may seem at first glance that every promise made to God is flat out hypocrisy, deceit, and meaningless. But, the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace, and we are sanctified by grace. So there are two things at work in a promise to keep God’s Word, and the psalmist here reveals both.
First, God requires that we be obedient to His Word. This is indeed how we know that we love Him and have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:6; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 5:3). So He has given us a command that He knows we cannot keep. He expects us to promise to keep His Word and to keep that promise. But we must know that any promise we can keep is based on the immutable promise that God has already made (Hebrews 6:17-18). God is not a God who lies. His character and nature never change. And this is why the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord is our portion. He is our everything. If we are going to be able to keep a promise according to His command, we need Him to be gracious to us according to His promise! God Himself will sanctify us (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:10; Ezekiel 36:26-27).
But there is a second part here. The Psalmist doesn’t lay down and ask God to simply do what He said He would! No, the psalmist is active in His pursuit of godliness and obedience. He is entreating the Lord’s favor with all of his heart. He is as the New Testament says, “making every effort” (2 Peter 1:5), and “working out his own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). This is the kind of pursuit that reveals God has given you a new heart. As Martin Luther said “We are saved by faith not works, but saving faith works.” The evidence that God’s promise of sanctification is for you is that you are being transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2). You are bearing fruit. The person who sees this evidence of God’s Spirit in their life can surely say “The Lord is my portion, I promise to keep your word.”
We can have confidence in our promise to God, not because we can do anything apart from Him, but rather because He has given us life, and a new heart, and new affections, He will continue to sanctify us (Philippians 1:6). We will indeed grow in godliness and obedience, keeping His Word. The Lord is our portion! May we keep His Word!
Pastor Dave Aubrey