The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.” (Psalm 119:57, NASB95)

The NASB along with the ESV, LEB, NIV, and HCSB all translate quite literally here: “The Lord is my portion.”  But what does “my portion” mean?  Portion of what?  Why does the psalmist write this way?

When I have questions like this, I usually turn to the Good News Bible (GNB) or the New Living Translation (NLT).  These versions try to help the reader understand the words of Scripture, but in such a way as to communicate what the psalmist’s meaning was, rather than to just translate a particular word that he wrote.  So Psalms 119.57 is translated:

  • You are all I want, O Lord; I promise to obey your laws.” (Psalm 119:57, GNB)
  • Lord, you are mine! I promise to obey your words!” (Psalm 119:57, NLT)

So we can see that “The Lord is my portion” means something like “you are all I want, O Lord” (GNB) or “Lord, you are mine!” (NLT).  I think I see what the psalmist is getting at now.  This is the value of looser [dynamic equivalence for Seminary studs] translations of the Bible.

The meaning?  God is everything the psalmist wants.  He does not write “God and…” or “God plus…” but God alone is all he wants; God himself is his; and God alone is his portion.  John Piper summarizes this particular truth as: “God is most glorified in me, when I am most satisfied in him.”

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