WORD STUDY – LOT IN LIFE: גורגי
Psalms 16:5-6: “The Lord is my portion and my cup, you maintain my lot, the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places, indeed my heritage is beautiful to me.
“We are all made to suffer, it is our lot in life.” C3PO – Star Wars
We seemed to have picked up an old Hebraism in our language. Whenever someone finds himself in a situation which is unpleasant, he often will say, “Well, I guess it is just my lot in life.” This expression goes back to ancient times to a practice which still exist in some areas today.
In ancient Northern Israel every farmer would receive a portion of land to farm for one year. In order to be fair about the apportionment of land, as some would have land that was rocky or difficult to cultivate or even be located a distance away from his home, the priest would redistribute the land every year. On an assigned day each year, all the farmers would gather at a threshing floor and the priest would place small stones in a cup. Each stone had the name of a particular portion of land and a young child who would be too young to understand the significance of what was taking place, would reach into the cup and choose a stone and give it to a farmer. None of the farmers could read so no one knew what portion of land they received. They might have received a good piece of land or maybe a rocky piece of land. The land might be located four hours walk from his home. However, after all the stones have been distributed, the farmers would hold the stone up to God and say: “May Jehovah maintain my lot.” The priest would then read each stone and the farmer would accept his lot in life or at least his lot for the next year, without complaint. If he drew a bad lot, he would only hope for a better one the next year.
David is saying in this verse that Jehovah is his lot in life. Jehovah is his means of livelihood. Whether it be difficult or easy, David is dedicating it back to him by saying: He will maintain it. The word maintain is tamak which has the idea of making it smooth and holding it together. Whatever lot he has drawn in life one is no different than the other because what he has drawn is the Lord, not his circumstances.
Yet, David declares that his lot has fallen on pleasant places. The word pleasant is na’am which has the idea of agreeable or harmonious.
So what is your lot in life, poverty, sickness, wealth, power? It doesn’t matter what it says on that stone drawn from the cup, if you have given your life to Jesus, then He is your portion, not your circumstances. If He is our portion, then whether it be in poverty or richness, sickness or health, our portion will always be “na’am” pleasant and agreeable.
I drive a young teenage to school every morning in my disability bus. He is only about fifteen years old, he is in a wheel chair with no use of his hands or legs. He has enough use of his hands to operate the joy stick of his hoveround but even there I have to turn it on and off for him. He attends a Full Gospel church where people are used to worshipping the Lord with up lifted hands. This is something my passage cannot do. As he was telling me about his church he said: “I can’t worship like everyone else but I have my own way. That really struck me, he has his own way.
We would think that his lot in life was a bad call. But I was thinking about this ancient practice of changing you portion of land every years. If a farmer received a bad portion of land, he was expected to farm it the best he could. It may have been a lot more work than the others for a smaller yield, but the ones receiving a good portion were expected to supplement the one with the poor portion so he and his family did not starve. But that farmer with the small portion was still expected to get up every day and do the best he could with what he was given.
Then there was the tribe of Levi, they were not allowed any land to farm. They were like my friend who riding my disability bus. They were totally dependent upon the others to donate 10% of what they yield to the tribe of Levi. They were to bring it to a storehouse and like visiting a food pantry they would go and take what they needed.
The reason they were not allowed to work the land was because they were to spend their full time serving God. The Bible teaches that their portion in life was God. Note Mal 3:8-10: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Mal 3:9 Ye [are] cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, [even] this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it].”
The Levi’s were totally dependent upon the other tribes to survive. If they got stingy with their tithes the priest and their families would be in want and even starve. So God had some pretty harsh penalties if they were not provided for. God gave everyone a portion in life, some had good land, some had bad land, some had no land at all, but God, but as the Psalmist reminds us our portion is really God and He regardless of what your portion is, God has made a way for you to survive.