God our Portion here and hereafter

1. ‘Tis true; Jehovah still is kind
    To Israel, to the pure in mind.
And yet my feet had well-nigh tripp’d,
    And yet well-nigh my steps had slipp’d;
For I was envious as I gazed,
    At riches by ambition raised;
And ponder’d with admiring eyes
    The triumphs of the worldly wise.

2. Their mouth the arm of heav’n defies;
    O’er earth their tongue resistless flies:
While, stung with grief, God’s people go,
    And tears abundant mark their woe.
In vain I purge my heart’s offence,
    And wash my hands in innocence,
For lo! each morn renews my grief,
    Nor brings the passing day relief.

3. Far hence, O God, the speech; the creed
    Which makes of none effect Your seed!
Yet anxious still my bosom yearned;
    ‘Till in Your sanctuary learned;
Their end, their portion I did spy,
    How You, O God, have set them high,
High on destruction’s slipp’ry brink,
    Till down beneath the wave they sink!

4. How foolish was I not to see
    Past the veil of mortality;
This world is just a fleeting show,
    And all who love it, with it go.
Yet still, O Lord, with You I stand:
    And still You hold me by my hand;
Your counsel guides me in the way,
    Until I reach eternal day.

5. For whom have I in heav’n’s abode
    But You, my Saviour and my God?
Nor on the earth a joy I view,
    My God, that can compare with You.
My heart may fail, my flesh may fade:
    But God remains my heart to aid;
He is my portion, I His care;
    His works forever I’ll declare.

Psalm 73 (metrical version)


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This is a very important Psalm for our time. It deals with the problems caused by the heaping up of riches, and the worship of monetary power on the part of the world around us. This principle of greed corrupts everything in our society: our food, our clothing, our entertainment, our schooling, our medical systems, our religions, our banking systems, our government, and inevitably, our laws and judicial system. Wherever money or profit, fame or pleasure, are esteemed as more important than doing the right, then injustice follows, and human rights will be abused.

In such a time, the righteous will suffer, because they cannot participate in this greed, and therefore will be either left out, or stepped upon. This is the “grief” the Psalmist speaks about in verse 2 of this song.

The moral law of ten commandments stands as a barrier and witness against this corruption. It speaks out against lying, stealing, coveting. It asks us to respect the Creator who made this earth and its laws, and who asks us to govern the earth with the same principles that He Himself governs. He treats all His creatures with compassion, and fairness.

Therefore, any teaching which sets aside or minimizes the importance of the moral law, undermines the stability of society. There are many churches today, and gospels, that degrade the moral law of God, either by direct teaching or by practice. The secret cause of the corruption of our society lies here.

Isaiah 24
5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

About the text

The metrical version of this Psalm was taken from Bishop Richard Mant’s collection, “The Book of Psalms in an English Metrical Version,” published in 1824. Mant was a bishop in the Anglican church in Northern Ireland.

I’ve followed his version quite closely, mostly just shortening it by leaving out some verses, and modernizing a few phrases. Here is the original:

‘Tis true; Jehovah still is kind
    To Israel, to the pure in mind.
And yet my feet had well-nigh tripp’d,
    And yet well-nigh my steps had slipp’d ;
What time I envied, as I gaz’d.
    The trophies by ambition rais’d;
And ponder’d with admiring eyes
    The triumphs of the worldly-wise.

No pangs their sense of death prolong;
    Firm are their limbs, and passing strong.
Nor theirs the heritage to share
    Of human toil, and human care.
And so with pride they fondly deck,
    As with a chain of gold, their neck;
And so with violence invest
    Their loins, as with a raiment drest.

Their swelling eyes bespeak their store
    Full to the brim, and running o’er.
Corrupt of heart, of speech profane.
    High looks are theirs, and proud disdain.
Their mouth the arm of heav’n defies;
    O’er earth their tongue resistless flies:
Whilst, stung with grief, God’s people go,
    And tears abundant mark their woe.

“How can the Lord perceive?” they cry:
    “Doth knowledge dwell with God Most High?”
For lo! the foes of God are these:
    Yet wealth is theirs, and joy, and ease.
Then vain to purge my heart’s offence,
    And wash my hands in innocence,
For lo! each morn renews my grief.
    Nor brings the passing day relief.

Far hence, I said, the speech; the creed
    Which wrongs, Great Being, of thy seed!
Yet anxious still my bosom yearn’d;
    Till of thine oracle I learn’d,
Their end and portion to descry:
    How Thou, O God, dost set them high,
High on destruction’s slippery brink.
    Till rapt beneath the wave they sink!

How in the twinkling of an eye
    In desolation whelm’d they lie!
How are they swept from earth, and brought
    To ruin, as a thing of naught.
As to the waken’d slumberer seems
    The image of his vanished dreams;
So waking. Lord, shalt Thou deride
    The phantom pageant of their pride.

Thus heaved with sharp fermenting pains
    My heart, and passion pierc’d my reins;
Untutor’d in thy sight, and rude,
    Ev’n as a savage of the wood.
Yet still, O Lord, with Thee I stand:
    And still Thou hold’st me by my hand;
Shalt with thy counsel guide, and shed
    Perpetual glory round my head.

For whom have I in heav’n’s abode
    But Thee, my Saviour and my God?
Nor upon earth a joy I see,
    My God, that can compare with Thee.
My heart may fail, my flesh may fade:
    But God remains my heart to aid;
My portion He: nor length of years
    In Him my heritage impairs.

Who quit thy fostering arm, shall know
    That arm alone can health bestow:
And faithless who renounce thy love.
    The perils of thy hate shall prove.
But me, my God, ’tis sweet to me.
    Thy name to trust, thy face to see;
And all thy wondrous works recount
    To Israel’s sons, on Zion’s mount.

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