Question: "What does it mean to say that God is my portion?"
Answer: David says, “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure” (Psalm 16:5). Other passages that refer to God as “my portion” include Psalm 73:26, Psalm 142:5, and Lamentations 3:24.
The Hebrew word for “portion” has to do with a ration or a part of something divided. The New Living Translation renders the Hebrew word for “portion” as “inheritance” in Psalm 16:5. The New American Standard links the word portion to inheritance: “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance.” The “inheritance” is a reference to the allotment of land given to Israel when they entered the Promised Land (Numbers 26:52–56; Joshua 14:1–5).
A family inheritance was of great importance in Hebrew society. The land was given by God to His children, the people of Israel, and the Mosaic Law specified that a family’s portion of land must remain in the family (Numbers 36:7). The law also directed that only the sons of a legal wife had the right of inheritance. If there were no sons, the property went to the daughters (Numbers 27:8), on the condition that they did not marry out of their tribe (Numbers 36:6ff). If a widow was left without children, the nearest of kin on her husband’s side had the right of marrying her, and, if he refused, the next of kin could marry her (see Ruth 3:12–13). If no one married the widow, the inheritance remained with her until her death and then reverted to the next of kin (Numbers 27:9–11).
All the tribes of Israel, except for one, received a portion of the Promised Land. The priestly tribe of Levi did not receive a land inheritance: “Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, just as the LORD your God promised him” (Deuteronomy 10:9, NKJV). The Levites had no portion of the land, but God promised to be their portion. He would take care of their needs.
Inheritance, as used in Scripture, can refer to more than inherited property. It also has a theological significance. The Israelites came to learn that God Himself was the portion or inheritance of His people (Jeremiah 10:16). In the New Testament, the concept of inheritance is prominent as well, being connected with the person and work of Christ. Christ is the heir by virtue of being God the Son (Mark 12:7; Hebrews 1:2). Through Christ’s redemptive work, believers are children of God by adoption and fellow-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7). As a guarantee of this “eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15), Christ has given us the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:14).
The portion or inheritance is given to all believers, both Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6). The inheritance includes the kingdom of God with all its blessings (Matthew 25:34), both presently and in the future (Romans 8:17–23; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Hebrews 11:23; 1 Peter 1:3–4). It is wholly the gift of God’s sovereign grace. “Our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5, ESV). The Son of God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In other words, God is our portion.
When a biblical writer says, “God is my portion,” he means that God is the source of his happiness and blessing. He is content with all that the Lord is and provides. He has the best inheritance imaginable and does not seek any possession or comfort outside of God. Riches, honor, friends and fame—nothing is as valuable as the promises of God. “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26, NASB). If God is our portion, we need nothing else.