Psalm 17 is another one of David’s “Help!” psalms. The exact nature of the opposition or attack is not clear, but the songwriter is seeking vindication from the LORD, looking to His God to deliver his soul from the wicked. “Give ear to my prayer,” cries the psalmist, “incline Your ear to me; hear my words.” And what’s particularly grabbed me this morning is the difference David highlights between him and his enemies. They are satisfied with a slice of life, while David looks forward to the whole thing!
Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by Your sword, from men by Your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness.
(Psalm 17:13-15 ESV)
There are those “whose portion is in this life.” Their territory, their share, their reward, all defined and realized, as Solomon might say, “under the sun.” It’s the slice of life defined by the material and the physical that determines their degree of “success.” But, in the end, as in the end of life, “they leave their abundance to their infants.” Great legacy for their children. But at best, all they can hope for is that someone will remember their “success” and what they left to their kids. But really, memories run short . . . as do the lives of those who might carry such memories.
“As for me,” says the psalmist. On the other hand . . . in contrast . . . looking at another definition of a successful life . . . “when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness.”
For David, his portion was the whole thing. It was in this life but, more importantly, it would be in the life after this life. The life that commenced with an awakening after the sleep of death had been entered. The life that offers more than a portion of temporal goods which much be distributed by a last will and testament. But one that offers a portion which satisfies eternally. The word for satisfy has the idea of being stuffed, or sated, with food. The appetite for life is satisfied to the full. The treasure is beyond what could be desired. The abundance, far from being left behind, just starting to be realized in its overwhelming fullness. Bet ya’ can’t eat the whole thing! Yes I can, says David.
“I shall behold Your face in righteousness . . . I shall be satisfied with Your likeness.”
That’s life . . . and life to the full. To behold the face of the Creator. To enter into the holy, holy, holy presence of God Almighty. To gaze upon His glory and upon a beauty incomparable to any beauty we’ve known this side of heaven.
And to do so in righteousness. Not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of Another. To look upon Him who sits on the throne and see before that throne the Lamb “as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6). Knowing the wounds were born for my sin . . . wondering afresh that not only was His death my death, but that His risen life is my life, and that His righteousness is my righteousness.
What a contrast. To labor and toil for the temporal hoping, at best, to impress our friends and leave something for our kids. Or to labor and toil for the eternal and behold the beauty of our LORD. To lay up treasures in heaven in anticipation of our waking up to glory. Of hungering and thirsting here and now, knowing that we shall be fully satisfied there and then. Satisfied with His likeness . . . our portion being His presence. The slice of life now, being just a sampler of the whole thing in that day.
To Him be glory . . .