There is something about the King James rendering of the first part of this verse that gets me: My flesh and my heart faileth. The term “may” in all the other major translations leaves us with some mental wiggle space. We see the word “may” as “this might happen, but it might not.” No. My flesh will fail. My heart will fail. I will come to an end.
That’s a super-morbid way to start off, isn’t it?
When you deal with chronic illness, whether it’s migraines, M.E., liver disorders, Fibromyalgia, POTS or anything else, you’re faced with mortality. Your body doesn’t work correctly, no matter how much you want it do. The broken, fallen nature of this world is apparent every time you look in the mirror and see the bags under your eyes. Or when a wave of nausea washes over you. Or when it feels like someone smashed you across the face with a brick.
My flesh and my heart faileth.
And “but’s” really are holy things.
The word “portion” here in this verse is the Hebrew cheleq (khay’-lek), meaning “portion, share, part, territory…tract, parcel (of land)…one’s portion, one’s possession…award from God.”
My flesh and my heart faileth…BUT…God is my possession.
He is my reward.
I find that immensely comforting. All this suffering, it isn’t for naught. There is a prize at the end and it is the Lord Himself.
We don’t necessarily understand the importance of family and inheritance rights during the time when this Psalm was written. The Promised Land was carefully and specifically divided up amongst the various Israelite tribes. Those broad divisions were further broken up along family lines. Even women could inherit land, a radical concept in the ancient world (see Num. 26:33; 27:1-7; 36:1-12; 1 Chr. 7:15; and Josh. 17:1-6). Each person had a place to call his or her own. Everyone would inherit something, whether by blood or by marriage.
According to the Psalmist, the Infinite and Majestic Creator puts Himself in the position of being an inheritance. When all is said and done, when the heart ceases beating and the brain stops waving; when the spirit exits the body, those who walk in relationship with God will not lose anything. Instead, we gain everything.
In his commentary on this passage, Matthew Henry writes:
All is well if God be mine.
Comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (NKJV)
To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.
This post also appeared on the Far East Broadcasting Company Gospel Blog on June 2, 2014.