God A Portion

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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
Types and Metaphors of the Bible:

“The Lord is the portion of my inheritance,” Ps. 16:5. “But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever,” Ps. 73:26. See Jer. 51:12; Ps. 119:57; 142:5.

PORTION (or inheritance, as the word is read, Gen. 31:14; 1 Kings 12:16; 2 Chr. 10:16,) is a metaphor taken from earthly portions or inheritances, which shall be considered in a fourfold respect, viz.
1. Its nature.
2. Its extent.
3. Its signification.
4. Its usefulness.

And, under these considerations, it affords matter for the ensuing parallel.



Metaphor: A Portion, or inheritance, is a gift.

Parallel: God hath given himself to his people to be their portion for ever, Lam. 3:24.


Metaphor: A Portion, or inheritance, as it includes education, and provision of future maintenance, is the best gift that men can dispose of.

Parallel: God, being comprehensive of all spiritual good, Isa. 49:6, is the best gift that can be received; and when he becomes a Portion to good men, Jer. 7:23, he makes them partakers of his divine nature, 2 Pet. 1:4; gives them his Holy Spirit, Acts 5:32, even the wisdom that is from above.


Metaphor: A Portion, or inheritance, is given to advance the honour and interest of the person on whom it is bestowed.

Parallel: God in giving himself unto his people, advances their honour and interest, and makes them no less than kings and princes; for when he makes them “heirs of God, they then become joint-heirs with Christ,” Rom. 8:17. “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth,” &c. Ps. 45:16. “And hast made us unto our God, kings and priests,” &c., Rev. 5:10.


Metaphor: A Portion, or inheritance, as it is the best for quality, so the extent and proportion of it is usually commensurate to the riches and estate of the donor: a good and great predecessor, father, or benefactor, gives like himself in quantity, as well as quality.

Parallel: God, who is the greatest, the richest, and most liberal Predecessor, Father, or Benefactor, always gives like himself in quantity and proportion “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it,” Ps. 81:10. “Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” John 16:24. “Ask what ye will and it shall be done for you,” &c., John 14:13-14. “Even above what you can ask or think,” Eph 3:20. He doth not only make them to inherit substance, but he fills their treasury, makes all grace to abound towards them, and “withholds no good thing from them that walk uprightly,” 2 Cor. 9:8; Ps. 84:11


Metaphor: Portion, or inheritance, implies or supposes relation: men do not give portions to foreign strangers and enemies, but to relations that are so naturally, or by adoption.

Parallel: God is not the Portion of devils or wicked men, who are enemies and aliens, the proud he knoweth afar off, but he is the Portion of the righteous, such as are his relations by regeneration or adoption, “if children, then heirs,” Rom. 8:16-17; Gal. 3:26, “But when he shall appear, we shall be like him,” 1 John 3:2.


Metaphor: A Portion, or inheritance, signifieth love, and good will to the subject. Men never give portions out of hatred and ill-will.

Parallel: God when he becometh the portion of any man, it is out of love, the greatest love, Deut. 7:7, and good will that ever was expressed. A love that is admired, because unmeasurable: O the height and length, &c. “What manner of love is this!” Eph. 3:20. A love that is great, large, fathomless, without end, Jer. 31:3.


Metaphor: The gift of Portion and inheritance, is bestowed on purpose to fix the subject to whom it is given in a future settlement of happiness and prosperity.

Parallel: So God, in becoming the Portion and inheritance of saints, doth design thereby to fix them in a future settlement of eternal happiness and felicity. “The pure in heart shall see God,” Matt. 5:8, be with him and enjoy him for ever. Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, sorrow and sighing shall flee away, Isa. 35:10; 45:17.


Metaphor: A Portion or inheritance frees from that contempt others are exposed to that have none; they that have no Portion are accounted poor, beggarly, and inconsiderable persons, men of no esteem.

Parallel: So saints, in having God to be their Portion, are delivered from that reproach and contempt the holy Scriptures cast upon others, viz., on the ungodly of the earth, who because they have no part nor Portion in God, are called poor, blind, and miserable, Rev. 3:17, whereas the saints are called honourable, and excellent ones, “Jabez was more honourable than his brethren,” 1 Chr. 4:9; Ps. 16:3; Mal. 3:17, they are men of name, princes, God’s treasure, his beloved ones, his jewels.


Metaphor: A great Portion or inheritance doth not only free from contempt, but procures many friends, (as Solomon speaks,) the rich hath many friends.

Parallel: So the saints having God to be theirs, are not only freed from the greatest contempt, and made honorable ones, but thereby come to have many friends; all the angels of heaven are in perfect bonds of peace and true friendship with them, Ps. 91:11; 34:7, as well as all saints on earth, who bless and pray for them, Heb. 1:14, nay, many times God makes their very enemies to be at peace with them, Prov. 16:7.


Metaphor: A great Portion or inheritance, makes a man to value himself accordingly, he will not join in affinity with any who are not suitable to him, or are much below him.

Parallel: So God being a saint’s Portion, it makes him value himself upon the best and most worthy grounds in the world. (1.) Because he is rich. (2.) Inconceivably rich. (3.) Really rich; other men, great men of the world are but seemingly rich. (4.) His riches and Portion make him really honourable, truly noble and renowned in the sight of God, angels, and saints. (5.) Because God hath made him so rich and illustrious, 1 John 3:2. (6.) Because he cannot be made poor by men nor devils; his riches are durable, Prov. 8:21.


Metaphor: A great Portion frees a man from fear of want, and so elevates his mind to a more noble and high degree of living than those that have none.

Parallel: So when a saint comes to know that God is his Portion, how doth it free him from fear of want? others have cause to fear they shall beg at harvest and have nothing, when he knows what mines of treasures are laid up for him against that day. “The Lord is my Shepherd, therefore I shall not want,” Ps. 23:1. “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation,” Hab. 3:18; “The Lord is my Portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him, Lam. 3:24.


Metaphor: A man that hath the greatest Portion and inheritance, will not be persuaded to change estates with other men.

Parallel: So a saint knowing God is his Portion, will not change his estate with kings, and mighty potentates of the earth, who are ungodly; “I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness,” Psa. 84:10. Moses contemned the glory of Pharaoh’s court, by seeing him who is invisible to be his Portion, Heb. 11:24-26.


Metaphor: An earthly man that has a large Portion, esteems highly of it, as appears by the young man in the Gospel; and as Christ saith, “Where your treasure is, there will your hearts he also.”

Parallel: So he that hath God to be his Portion, esteems highly of him; He loves the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength, Psa. 18:1. I will love the Lord as long as I live. “Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee?” Psa. 73:25; God runs continually in his mind.


Metaphor: A great Portion or Inheritance, makes way for entrance into or alliance with a great and noble family.

Parallel: A saint having God to his Portion, viz., having obtained an interest in God through Christ, comes thereby to have a right to all the sealing ordinances, and the union and privileges of God’s elect, Eph. 1:3, and 2:19.


Metaphor: A great Portion or Inheritance, makes a man able to do more good than multitudes of others can, he can help those he loves; and oftentimes enemies receive advantage by him.

Parallel: So a saint having interest in God, he is made capable of helping and doing much good to others, Heb. 13:3. (1.) By his prayers; for the ears of God are open to his cries, they are his delight. What good did Israel receive by Moses’s prayer? &c. (2.) By good counsel, Acts 11:23. (3.) By comforting others that are cast down with the same comfort wherewith they themselves are comforted of God, 2 Cor. 1:4. (4.) By helping against Satan, by showing his devices, 2Co 2:11, &c. (5.) And by their holy example and conversation, James 5:16. The wicked also receive great advantage by them; they are the light of the world, the salt of the earth; how was Laban blest for Jacob’s sake, Gen. 30:27; and the house of Potiphar for Joseph’s sake? Gen. 39:3. And what said the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Isaiah’s time, Except the Lord of hosts had left us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah, Isa. 1:9.


Metaphor: A great Portion or inheritance furnisheth a man with whatsoever is good and desirable here below, yea, with the best of every sort, whether for necessity, or to make life comfortable; a man lives upon his Portion, and reaps whatsoever good, profit, or pleasure it is capable to afford him.

Parallel: So a Saint having God to be his Portion, is furnished with whatsoever is truly good and desirable, viz., (1.) Heavenly or divine life to quicken him; He is our life. The man who hath not received the Spirit, lies dead in sins and trespasses. (2.) Light to direct them. (3.) Wisdom to counsel them. (4.) Power to aid and assist them. (5.) Spiritual joy to cheer them. (6.) Heavenly bread to feed them. (7.) Glorious robes to clothe them. (8.) Excellent grace to adorn them. (9.) The angels to guard and protect them, &c. A Saint lives upon God; he receives so much of that spiritual good, profit, and delight here from his Portion, that he is able to take in all that good God sees necessary for him.



Metaphor: The best of Portions and inheritances in this world, are earthly and corruptible.

Disparity: God is a Portion immortal and incorruptible, he is the same, and changes not; called often, the eternal and immortal God, and so an immortal good.


Metaphor: Other Portions are laid up in reversion for this and that child, friend or brother, and they have no benefit of it at present.

Disparity: God is a present Portion, present help, a present support, present riches, present honour; “Thou art my Portion in the land of the living,” 1 Sam. 1:5.


Metaphor: Other Portions, though great, yet not infinite, immense, and unsearchable, the worth of the greatest earthly Portion may be computed or reckoned up.

Disparity: God is an immense, infinite, and incomprehensible Portion, none is able to account or compute how rich a Saint is; what are all nations of the world to him? even less than nothing, and vanity.


Metaphor: Other Portions may be great, and yet not all-sufficient, they cannot supply the possessor with whatsoever good thing he needeth.

Disparity: But God is an all-sufficient Portion, in him is a sufficiency of all good things a Saint can need; “No good will he withhold from him that walketh uprightly,” Psa. 84:11.


Metaphor: Other Portions and riches here may be good, and yet there is no necessity of them. Men may be happy without them; worldly riches are not absolutely necessary.

Disparity: But God is a Portion that is absolutely necessary; he that hath all other good things and not God, no interest in him, is miserable, and shall be damned.


Metaphor: All other Portions have their mixtures, they are, as one observes, a bitter sweet: many snares and evils attend a man that has a great Portion of worldly things.

Disparity: But God is a pure unmixed Portion, there is nothing in him but goodness; light, and no darkness; joy, and no sadness; life, and no death; and this they will find when they come to the full possession and enjoyment of him.


Metaphor: Other Portions are common to men, to the vilest of men; in every nation riches are often given without distinction, saints and sinners have them alike.

Disparity: But God is a peculiar Portion; he gives himself only to his own people, to his own elect; “He is, (saith David) the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever:” “this God is our God,” Psa. 73:26; 48:14; Lam. 3:24. “The Lord, (saith a gracious soul), is my Portion;” there is not a wicked man in the world can say so.


Metaphor: Another Portion is not universal, it doth not comprehend all good things; it may lie in gold, in silver, in land, houses, but not comprehend all portions, or all good things whatsoever.

Disparity: But God is an universal Portion; whatsoever is good it is to be had in him, whether for profit or delight, he comprehends all portions; all things that are desirable; so he that hath God hath all, nothing is good without him, nothing can be evil that falls upon a saint that hath him; God is good in every thing, and he is good of himself alone, when every thing else is gone; “having nothing, yet possessing all things,” 2 Cor. 6:10.


Metaphor: Other Portions may be taken away by thieves, wasted or consumed by fire.

Disparity: God is a Portion that none can rob the soul of, no fire can destroy the soul’s inheritance.


Metaphor: Other Portions may be great, and yet not suitable in all respects to all persons, and at all times; what will gold or silver signify to the soul? What help can it administer at death?

Disparity: But God is a suitable Portion to all persons, in all things, and at all times: this portion suits the condition of the soul, the necessities of the soul, the wants and desires of the soul. Is the soul blind, naked, sick, wounded, poor? Suitable supplies in these respects, and all others, are to be had in him.


Metaphor: Other Portions cannot satisfy the man that enjoys them, all the world cannot fill the soul, nor give full satisfaction to it.

Disparity: But God is a Portion that satisfies him who hath a part and interest in him; “my soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,” Psa. 63:5-6. He gives the soul full content and satisfaction.


Metaphor: Other Portions may be spent, a man by living upon them, may waste them; the prodigal son wasted all his Portion.

Disparity: But God is a Portion that can never be spent: the more a saint lives upon his Portion, the more rich he is, the more comes in upon him, God is an unexhaustible Portion.


Metaphor: Other Portions are but for a time, they pass away, and riches are uncertain things, they are upon the wing, they will not abide for ever.

Disparity: But God is a never-failing Portion, he is not only a Portion now, but will be a Portion hereafter, a present, and yet a future Portion, a Portion whilst we live, a Portion when we die, and a Portion to eternity.


Metaphor: The largest inheritance cannot make a man absolutely happy.

Disparity: But God is able to do all things that will make up a full and complete happiness. (1.) He gives peace and serenity of mind. (2.) Fills with joy and peace in believing, John 16:33; Psa. 29:11; 1 Pet. 1:18. (3.) Seals up to the day of redemption, Eph. 1:13; 4:30. (4.) Sends angels to rescue and conduct, and at last lodges safe in the bosom of Abraham, in a land of light and blessed immortality.


1. THIS shows the great and wonderful condescension of God in giving himself to be his people’s portion.

2. This shows the great difference between the godly and ungodly, the one are exceeding rich in the midst of poverty, and the other miserably poor in the midst of riches; as in the case of Lazarus and the rich man, Luke 16.

3. It shows how grossly the world is abused by Satan, in esteeming good men to be poor and miserable; since the meanest of them is born to a kingdom, and heir apparent to a crown, which is but the least part of their Portion neither; for the height of their inheritance is the God of the kingdom.

4. From hence we see the reason why wise and good men slighted the world; for they had piercing judgments, and could see beyond it, and take a view of that more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, that an interest in this Portion shall invest them in.

5. From hence we may be informed why God is so much slighted in the world, not because he is unworthy of chief regard, for he is all excellent. (2.) Not because he is not sufficiently discovered to be so; for the heavens declare his glory. And if a rare piece of art and curiosity in a royal palace will lead us to judge it the product of an ingenious mind; much more the view of the stately canopy of heaven, and the wonders of the creation, will carry our minds to the contemplation of the great Creator: but (3.) It is because of affected and chosen ignorance, with which Satan strikes; so that men’s damnation is of themselves.

6. This shows the infinite reasons that sway with good men for the choice of this Portion; because if they have him, all that is good and desirable is theirs, and all is nothing without him.

7. This may lead us to enquire who have this God for their Portion. (1.) They are such as set light by the world, and all things short of him. (2.) Their thoughts are upon him, and hunger and thirst after him, cleaving to him as the highest object. (3.) They make their boast of him, “I will make my boast of God.” (4.) They take care to keep him. And, (5.) Are resolved to exalt him: “O God, thou art my God, I will exalt thee.”

8. This leads us to an useful enquiry after the best way to get this God to be our Portion, which may be reduced to the following heads: (1.) It is necessary to know how we lost him, viz., by sin. (2.) To remove that which separated us from him—“Let the wicked forsake his way,” &c. (3.) By confession and acknowledgment to sue to him, as the prodigal did; for he that confesses and forsakes sin, shall find mercy. (4.) To draw our hearts from earthly objects, which may do evils (though not in themselves, yet) by accident, because we cannot serve God and mammon. (5.) We must believe on Christ, and obey him.

9. This should teach us contentment, since this Portion is enough. (2.) Not to fear death, because it is but the entrance to a fuller enjoyment. (3.) Not to repine at others’ large share of the world, because this Portion infinitely excels it. (4.) We ought to live upon it, as our proper and peculiar inheritance.

—Benjamin Keach, Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible, (Kregel, 1972), pp. 246-250.
I have posted this for the encouragement and edification of the members here. Keach provides ample material for rich meditation. I found this thought especially sweet . . .
Metaphor: All other Portions have their mixtures, they are, as one observes, a bitter sweet: many snares and evils attend a man that has a great Portion of worldly things.

Disparity: But God is a pure unmixed Portion, there is nothing in him but goodness; light, and no darkness; joy, and no sadness; life, and no death; and this they will find when they come to the full possession and enjoyment of him.
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