The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.
Inheritance/Lot – Personal rights are a big deal in our world. If you listen to the contemporary political rhetoric, it would seem that everyone has a “right” to just about everything. Apparently life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not enough. Now we need housing, education, medical care, retirement, security, food, jobs and whatever else happens to move the political conscience. It’s fairly easy to be seduced by all this since it pervades the society, but make no mistake, King David clearly understood that personal rights in the biblical system are very, very different.
The Hebrew word goral is used twice in this verse. The same word is translated both “inheritance” and “lot.” We use two different words to make the English sound more literary, but it hides that fact that David emphasizes the same Hebrew concept. It’s important (from a Hebrew point of view) that I know that my lot and my inheritance are one and the same. Why? Because both have a direct relationship with the action of God. No man, no political action group and no government can guarantee my real rights. They come from God and from God alone.
Goral is first associated with the action of casting lots. In ancient times, this method was often used to determine the correct choice in a matter. Of course, today we would be aghast if we thought that crucial decisions in life were determined by throwing pebbles on the ground. It sounds like some kind of magic. Our “Christian” training steers us away from all these “incantation” processes. But maybe we are a little too quick to reject the casting of lots. Maybe we really don’t understand what is implied. Or maybe we are so “Greek” in our automatic deferral to the power of reason that we no longer entertain a place for God’s direct actions in our decision-making.
The thinking behind the casting of lots is an explicit recognition of the total sovereignty of God. In other words, the only reason that I accept the casting of lots as the means of making a choice is because I absolutely believe that God is in control of the way those pebbles fall to the ground. Fate has nothing to do with it. By the way, neither does gravity or physics. God causes the pebbles to fall in a way that reveals His will. My only decision is to allow Him to use this method to instruct me and to follow through on the result.
Now, of course, anyone can throw stones on the ground (or bones or cards or whatever). But casting lots from a biblical point of view can only occur correctly when the party is fully in compliance with the Most High God and completely trusting in God’s immanent involvement. It is faith in the full Hebrew sense – trusting in Him. This is the background to the lots used to determine the land distribution when Israel entered the Promised Land. This is the background in Jonah. And this is the background that David alludes to when he uses the word goral.
But David says something more than a comment about his portion of the Promised Land. David says that the destiny of his life, everything about who and what he is, is in the hands of the Lord. Here David uses the personal name of God, YHWH. Just as Israel trusted in lots to determine the will of God for the distribution, so David (and all believers) can absolutely trust YHWH with their destiny. The nation’s lot was determined by YHWH and so is each person’s lot. God is directly and immanently connected to our very existence.
How about your “lot in life?” Do you feel that you have arrived at this place and time because of accidents, circumstances or fate? Are you complaining because things haven’t worked out the way you wanted? Do you think your life is under the whim of the government, the employer or the tax man? Maybe King David has something to say to you.
Topical Index: lot, inheritance, destiny, goral, Psalm 16:5