God: A Soul-Satisfying Portion
As God is an inexhaustible portion, so God is a soul-satisfying portion, Psa. 17:15.
He is a portion that gives the soul full satisfaction and content: Psa. 16:5, 6, ‘The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.’ It was well with him as his heart could wish. And so in Psa. 73:25, ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee’; or as some render it, ‘I would I were in heaven with you’; or as others read the words, ‘I have sought none in heaven or earth besides you’; or as others, ‘I desire none in heaven or earth besides you,’ or ‘I affect none in heaven, nor none on earth like you; I love none in heaven, nor none on earth, in comparison of you; I esteem you instead of all other treasure, and above all other treasures that are in heaven, or that are on earth.’ The holy prophet had spiritual and sweet communion with Christ to comfort and strengthen him; he had a guard of glorious angels to protect him and secure him, and he had assurance of heaven in his bosom to joy and rejoice him; and yet it was none of these, nay, it was not all these together, that could satisfy him, it was only an infinite good, an infinite God, that could satisfy him. He very well knew that the substantials of all true happiness and blessedness lay in God, and his enjoyment of God, It was not his high dignities nor honours that could satisfy him; it was not the strength, riches, security, prosperity, and outward glory of his kingdom that could satisfy him; it was not his delightful music, nor his noble attendance, nor his well furnished tables, nor his great victories, nor his stately palaces, nor his pleasant gardens, nor his beautiful wife, nor his lovely children, that could satisfy him; all these without God could never satisfy him; but God without all these was enough to quiet him, and satisfy him: John 14:8, ‘Philip said unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.’
A sight of God will satisfy a gracious soul more than all worldly contentments and enjoyments, yea, one sight of God will satisfy a saint more than all the glory of heaven will do. God is the glory of heaven. Heaven alone is not sufficient to content a gracious soul, but God alone is sufficient to content and satisfy a gracious soul. God only is that satisfying good, that is able to fill, quiet, content, and satisfy an immortal soul. Certainly, if there be enough in God to satisfy the spirits of just men made perfect, whose capacities are far greater than ours, Heb. 12:23-25; and if there be enough in God to satisfy the angels, whose capacities are far above theirs; if there be enough in God to satisfy Jesus Christ, whose capacity is unconceivable and inexpressible; yea, if there be enough in God to satisfy himself, then certainly there must needs be in God enough to satisfy the souls of his people. If all fulness, and all goodness and infiniteness will satisfy the soul, then God will. There is nothing beyond God imaginable, nor nothing beyond God desirable, nor nothing beyond God delectable; and therefore the soul that enjoys him, cannot but be satisfied with him.
God is a portion beyond all imagination, all expectation, all apprehension, and all comparison; and therefore he that has him cannot but sit down and say, I have enough, Gen. 33:11; Psa. 63:5, 6, ‘My soul shall be satisfied as with* marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.’ Marrow and fatness cannot so satisfy the appetite, as God can satisfy a gracious soul; yea, one smile from God, one glance of his countenance, one good word from heaven, one report of love and grace, will infinitely more satisfy an immortal soul, than all the fat, and all the marrow, and all the dainties and delicates of this world can satisfy the appetite of any mortal man. ‘My soul shall be satisfied with fatness and fatness’; so the Hebrew has it; that is, my soul shall be topful of comfort, it shall be filled up to the brim with pleasure and delight, in the remembrance and enjoyment of God upon my bed, or upon my beds, in the plural, as the Hebrew has it. David had many a hard bed and many a hard lodging, whilst he was in his wilderness condition. It oftentimes so fell out that he had nothing but the bare ground for his bed, and the stones for his pillows, and the hedges for his curtains, and the heavens for his canopy; yet in this condition God was sweeter than marrow and fatness to him; though his bed was never so hard, yet in God he had full satisfaction and content: Jer. 31:14, ‘My people shall be satisfied with goodness, saith the Lord’; and ‘my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory, by Christ Jesus,’ Phil. 4:19, saith Paul, that great apostle of the Gentiles. The Greek word πληρώσει (plērōsei) signifies to fill up, even as he did the widow’s vessels, 2 Kings 4:4, till they did overflow. God will fill up all, he will make up all, he will supply all the wants and necessities of his people. That water that can fill the sea, can much more fill a cup: and that sun which can fill the world with light, can much more fill my house with light. So that God that fills heaven and earth with his glory, can much more fill my soul with his glory.
To show what a satisfying portion God is, he is set forth by all those things that may satisfy the heart of man, as by bread, water, wine, milk, honours, riches, raiment,** houses, lands, friends, father, mother, sister, brother, health, wealth, light, life, etc. And if these things will not satisfy, what will? It is enough, says old Jacob, that Joseph is alive, Gen. 45:28; so says a gracious soul, It is enough that God is my portion. A pardon cannot more satisfy a condemned man, nor bread a hungry man, nor drink a thirsty man, nor clothes a naked man, nor health a sick man, etc., than God satisfies a gracious man. But, Now worldly portions can never satisfy the souls of men, Eccles. 5:10: ‘He that loveth silver shall never be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase. This is also vanity.’*** All the world cannot fill the soul, nor all the creatures in the world cannot stock the soul with complete satisfaction. As nothing can be the perfection of the soul but he that made it, so nothing can be the satisfaction of the soul but he that made it. If a man be hungry, silver cannot feed him; if naked, it cannot clothe him; if cold, it cannot warm him; if sick, it cannot recover him; if wounded, it cannot heal him; if weak, it cannot strengthen him; if fallen, it cannot raise him; if wandering, it cannot reduce him; oh how much less able is it then to satisfy him! He that, out of love to silver, seeks after silver, shall love still to seek it, but shall never be satisfied with it. A man shall as soon satisfy the grave, and satisfy hell, and satisfy the stomach with wind, as he shall be able to satisfy his soul with any earthly portion. All earthly portions are dissatisfying portions, they but vex and fret, gall and grieve, tear and torment, the souls of men. The world is a circle, and the heart of man is a triangle, and no triangle can fill a circle.**** Some good or other will be always wanting to that man that has only outward good to live upon. Absalom’s beauty could not satisfy him, nor Haman’s honour could not satisfy him, nor Ahab’s kingdom could not satisfy him, nor Balaam’s gold could not satisfy him, nor Ahithophel’s policy could not satisfy him, nor the scribes and Pharisees’ learning could not satisfy them, nor Dives’ riches could not satisfy him, nor Alexander’s conquests could not satisfy him; for when, as he thought, he had conquered one world, he sits down and wishes for another world to conquer; and Cyrus the Persian king was wont to say, did men but know the cares which he sustained under his imperial crown, he thought no man would stoop to take it up. Gilimex, king of the Vandals, when he was led in triumph by Belisarius, cried out, ‘Vanity of vanity, all is vanity.’ Charles V, emperor of Germany, whom of all men the world judged most happy, cried out with detestation to all his honours, riches, pleasures, trophies, Abite hinc, abite longe, Get you hence, let me hear no more of you. And it has been long since said of our King Henry II,
He whom, alive, the world could scarce suffice,
When dead, in eight-foot earth contented lies.
By all these instances, it is most evident that no earthly portions can satisfy the souls of men. Can a man fill up his chest with air? or can he fill up the huge ocean with a drop of water? or can a few drops of beer quench the thirst of a man in a burning fever? or can the smell of meat, or the reeking fume of a ladle, or dreaming of a banquet, satisfy a hungry stomach? No! no more can any earthly portions fill or satisfy the heart of man. If emptiness can fill the soul, if vanity can satisfy the soul, or if vexation can give content to the soul, then may earthly portions satisfy the soul, but not till then. When a man can gather grapes of thorns, and figs of thistles, and turn day into night, and winter into summer, then shall he find satisfaction in the creatures; but not before. All earthly portions are weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, and they are found to be lighter than the dust of the balance; and this will rather inflame the thirst than quench it. A man that has only the world for his portion, is like Noah’s dove out of the ark, that was in continual motion, but could find no resting place; but a man that has God for his portion is like the dove, returning and resting in the ark, The soul can never be at rest, till it comes to rest and centre in God.***** God himself is the soul’s only home, no good but the chiefest good can suffice an immortal soul. Look, as God never rested till he had made man, so man can never rest till he comes to enjoy God; the soul of man is of a very vast capacity, and nothing can fill it to the brim but he that is fulness itself. It is the breast, and not the baby [‘Doll’ – G.] nor the rattle, that will satisfy the hungry child; and it is God, and not this or that creature, that can satisfy the soul of man.
*Cheleb vade shen, fat and fat; so the Hebrew has it; and hereby is meant satiety of pleasures, etc.
**[That is, clothing.]
***Some read the words thus: He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver, and he that loves it in the multitude of it shall not have fruit.
****If the whole world were changed into a globe of gold, it could not fill one heart, it could not satisfy one immortal soul.
*****A reminiscence of Augustine’s memorable saying, ‘Fecisti nos ad te, Domine, et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te‘, [‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’] Confe. i. 1. – G.
The above is excerpted from Thomas Brooks, An Ark for All God’s Noahs in a Gloomy, Stormy Day, originally published in 1666, and by the Trust in 2020. A wonderful resource for meditation on what it is to have God as our portion, the book may be purchased here.
Thumbnail Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash
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