Our Beautiful Inheritance
Just the day before my parents had visited with my aunt and uncle on their 70-acre farm in rural Virginia. The modest little house was filled with stories of old bursting to be told. My mom described my aunt’s greeting in a way that reminded me of my dad’s excitement when my parents presented me with the heirloom gift from my great-grandmother. My aunt, reminding us all of my grandmother more with each passing year, gracefully, almost dancingly, ushered my mom to her back room to reveal the jewels as well as the explanation of just who would inherit them and why.
My mom and my aunt then shared stories of my ancestors, particularly my great-grandmother who had owned the vintage salmon colored jewelry box and its soon-to-be-revealed contents. I wish I had been there to hear those stories, but I was delighted to hear my mom’s retelling of a few. My mind imagined the rest.
I imagined my great-grandmother, impeccably dressed, house tidy in preparation for the day, reaching high onto her chest of drawers for her jewelry box. I can see her hands. I imagined them strong and soon adorned with simple yet elegant rings for the daily work of keeping the family fed, clothed, together. I imagined her kissing my grandfather on the head as her earrings glistened sparkles in the morning sun. I imagined her leading him by his sweet little hand as her bracelet of delicacy slid down to meet her hand and find rest. I imagined her holding him close in a loving embrace, her necklace of honor sliding to the side so his head could rest gently on her chest. I imagined her as a mother like me, one doing her very best to show her children love and keep the home fires burning.
I don’t know the struggles she faced in this earthly life, but I am certain she had strengths and weaknesses, joys and sorrows. I don’t know so much about her or other family members of her generation, but I do know that “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places and I have a delightful inheritance.” I don’t know this because of my earthly family history, though I am fortunate to look back with thanksgiving for the majority of my ancestors’ choices and legacy. I know this because of the promise of my heritage in Christ. Whether your personal past or that of your family’s is one you look upon with fondness or shame, your inheritance with Christ is certain to be secure and delightful.
“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely, I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16: 5-8 NIV)
In Psalm 16, LORD is written in all capital letters. This signifies that the Psalmist is referring to God as “Yahweh” (translated “I am”). When this word is used, it is a reminder that God “absolutely is” and is sufficient to meet all of our needs. In historical times, the lot, or “portion” is a reference to the practice of casting lots in connection with the division of land under Joshua in the Old Testament (Joshua chapters 14-21). Israel was divided among the tribes, each lot measured out in accordance with the size of the family, each receiving enough land to meet their needs. God was teaching his people in this Psalm that He was absolutely sufficient to meet their every need. God was their lot, their portion, their everything. And he could be trusted.
God later instructed his people through Moses to cast lots (like tossing die or flipping coins) to determine his will in a given situation. This was particularly helpful in times of trial and confusion as a way of relying on “God’s lot system” to guide next steps.
Our inheritance is very different in the New Testament because we have been given Jesus as our complete portion. We no longer have to rely on die tosses or coin flips to determine our future because Jesus’s death on the cross wins either way. Living with the assurance of Christ’s resurrection and forgiveness takes the gamble out of life. With Jesus as our crown jewel, we always win first prize and it is the most beautiful treasure any jewelry box could hold.
Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16:9-11).
Interestingly enough, Psalm 16 is the “Michtam of David,” understood to mean, “The Golden Psalm.” One commentary writer has called this Psalm, “David’s Jewel.” Michtam has also been translated as a simple derivative of a word signifying “to hide” or “a secret or mystery.” The writers of Bible Study Tools then suggest that put together, this Psalm could be translated, “The Psalm of the Precious Secret.” I am constantly amazed by God’s work in and through the study of His word. I did not know this when I set out to write this blog about the secret gift given to me by my ancestors. Jesus, our given inheritance, is the most precious and prized golden jewel, the secret treasure hidden in the hearts of all who believe.
I never knew my great-grandmother who donned the exquisite gems within my prized salmon colored jewelry box. But, I know that God is good and the lot he has provided for me is the perfect provision. When viewing our lives through the lens of Jesus Christ’s love with Him as our inheritance, He “makes known to us the path of life; He fill us with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand.” It is good to remember our past generations with fondness and delight. It is good to remember that Jesus is the most precious treasure found in any heir loomed jewelry box. It is good to remember that the crown jewel, Jesus Christ, has been given to each of us. I’m going to wear Him with honor today. I invite you to do the same.
The Golden Psalm. Being an Exposition practical, experimental, and prophetical of Psalm Sixteenth. By the Rev. THOMAS DALE, M.A. Canon Residentiary of St. Paul’s, London, and Vicar of St. Pancras, Middlesex. London: 1847.
Christ in Gethsemane. An Exposition of Psalm Sixteen. By JAMES FRAME, Minister of Queen Street Chapel, Ratcliff, London: 1858.