Lamentations 3:24

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

[see also the hymn below the Endnotes]
[preached at Olney on Sunday morning 10 March 1765]
The prophet Jeremiah and the spiritual worshippers of God in his time, lived in a cloudy and dark day.  Though the Lord set a mark upon them for good, and gave them their lives for a prey, yet were [they] deeply affected with the common calamity of their people.  It is no small trial to the people of God to live where wickedness prevail, suppose they suffer no more than from what they see and hear around them – but when the Lord arises to take vengeance, when he sends his desolatory judgments, when he breaks the staff of bread and water, or says to the sword, Sword, go through the land, his people as well as others have a share in the trouble – and that justly, for they have not been so faithful as they ought in bearing a testimony against sin, neither have they been so deeply humbled before God on this account as became them.  However, at the worst they have too[two] consolations: first that his providence is with them to support and bring them safe through all they meet, and secondly, that he himself is their friend, their God, their portion - a portion which no change of circumstance can deprive them of.  And here we see the triumph of faith, that can rejoice in the Lord when very creature comfort fails, and can claim an interest in him, when all things seem against them.  The believers at this time saw their country laid waste, their cities destroyed, their temples burnt by fire, their neighbours and friends cut off by sword and pestilence, they themselves rooted out from their pleasant dwellings and sent captives into a strange land.  Yet in the midst of all this desolation they could say, The Lord is my portion, therefore though cast down, we are not destroyed. I will hope in him
Happy indeed are the people who have the Lord for their God.  Let us consider:
  1. How the Lord becomes a portion
  2. What an excellent portion he is
  3. To whom he is a portion
  4. The conclusion – Therefore…
1. [How he becomes a portion]
If the holy angels should use these words they would not seem strange, but when sinful worms are not ashamed or afraid to say so, it seems wonderful indeed.  How different our portion by nature:
  • sin our choice
  • misery our state
  • wrath our inheritance
  Such were once all those who have now the Lord for their portion.  They did not obtain their portion, as that which Jacob speaks of by his sword and his bow.  It was all of grace.  It pleased the Lord to make them his people, to choose them for his portion, and then he gave himself to be a portion for them.
  1.1 He spared and waited for them, Ezekiel 16:6. [1]
  1.2 He opens their understandings, to loath themselves, and desire him.
  1.3 He gives them faith – then they claim him, as their own.
2. What a portion! 
The word implies two things:
  2.1 Excellence
None account anything a portion but what is (in their esteem at least) valuable.
  2.2 Propriety
However excellent a thing may be, if it is not ours, or if we have no hope of attaining it, we cannot look on it as a portion.
  Now the Lord is deservedly a portion to believing souls, for he is most excellent in himself, and he gives them a right to call him their own.  Compare this, with the portions and desirable things of this life.
They are:
  1. Hard to get.
  2. Unsatisfying when obtained.
The want of one thing will spoil the sweetness of many.  As Haman. [2]
  3. Hard, nay impossible, to keep.
  But the Lord is:
  1. A free portion.
None that sincerely desire him shall be rejected.  Grace reigns [3] and sinners, though vilest and most unworthy, are welcome.
  2. An All-sufficient [portion], exceeding all their capacities, wants and desires.
  3. An everlasting portion: in life, in death and forever.
3. To whom
Those who have the Lord for their portion are:
  3.1 Humble
They have abasing thoughts of themselves – admiring thoughts of his grace and condescension.  They say as Mephibosheth, 2 Samuel 19:28. [4]
  3.2 Spiritual
A carnal principle indeed still cleaves to them, but their prevailing desire is towards their portion.
  3.3 Obedient
A sense of his love constrains them, they acknowledge that they are not their own.
  If so, does not the word of God assure some of you that as yet you have no part or lot in this portion?  What can the self-righteous, the worldly and the self-willed claim here?
Which of us may not take up a lamentation and say, my leanness. [5]  If we have the beginnings of these gracious principles, yet how weak and faint.  However, there is:
4. A comfortable and safe conclusion
If the Lord is your portion, your desire, you may hope in him:
  4.1 For that renewed pardon you want.
  4.2 For a clearer manifestation of your interest.
  4.3 For increase of grace.
  4.4 That he will not cast you off forever.
 [1] Ezekiel 16:6 And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.
[2] See Esther chapters 4,5–7 for Haman’s hatred of the Jews, commencing 3:5,6 after his promotion: And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.
[3] See Olney Hymns, Book 3, Hymn 86, ‘Reigning grace’, perhaps written for the funeral of Mrs Ann Churchman, Wednesday 27 November 1765, or for the following Sunday evening fellowship 1 December 1765.
[4] 2 Samuel 19:28 For all of my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?
[5] Isaiah 24:16 From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
[The following hymn by Newton is on this text. It was written for the Sunday evening fellowship 20 February 1774 after the funeral on 14 February of Betty Abraham, at which Newton had preached again on Lamentations 3:24, The Lord is my portion, 'some of the last words she spoke'. ]
The Lord is my portion
Lamentations 3:24
From pole to pole let others roam,
And search in vain for bliss;
My soul is satisfied at home,
The Lord my portion is.
Jesus, who on his glorious throne
Rules heaven and earth and sea;
Is pleased to claim me for his own,
And give himself to me.
His person fixes all my love,
His blood removes my fear;
And while he pleads for me above,
His arm preserves me here.
His word of promise is my food,
His Spirit is my guide;
Thus daily is my strength renewed
And all my wants supplied.
For him I count as gain each loss,
Disgrace, for him, renown;
Well may I glory in his cross,
While he prepares my crown!
Let worldlings then indulge their boast,
How much they gain or spend!
Their joys must soon give up the ghost,
But mine shall know no end.
John Newton
Olney Hymns, Book 1, Hymn 69

Cowper & Newton Museum, John Newton's notebook N17