26.My flesh and my heart have failed. Some understand the first part of the verse as meaning that David’s heart and flesh failed him through the ardent desire with which he was actuated; and they think that by it he intends to testify the earnestness with which he applied his mind to God. We meet with a similar form of expression elsewhere; but the clause immediately succeeding, God is the strength of my heart, seems to require that it should be explained differently. I am rather disposed to think that there is here a contrast between the failing which David felt in himself and the strength with which he was divinely supplied; as if he had said, Separated from God I am nothing, and all that I attempt to do ends in nothing; but when I come to him, I find an abundant supply of strength. It is highly necessary for us to consider what we are without God; for no man will cast himself wholly upon God, but he who feels himself in a fainting condition, and who despairs of the sufficiency of his own powers. We will seek nothing from God but what we are conscious of wanting in ourselves. Indeed, all men confess this, and the greater part think that all which is necessary is that God should aid our infirmities, or afford us succor when we have not the means of adequately relieving ourselves. But the confession of David is far more ample than this when he lays, so to speak, his own nothingness before God. He, therefore, very properly adds, that God is his portion. The portion of an individual is a figurative expression, employed in Scripture to denote the condition or lot with which every man is contented. Accordingly, the reason why God is represented as a portion is, because he alone is abundantly sufficient for us, and because in him the perfection of our happiness consists. Whence it follows, that we are chargeable with ingratitude, if we turn away our minds from him and fix them on any other object, as has been stated in Psalms 16:4, where David explains more clearly the import of the metaphor. Some foolishly assert that God is called our portion, because our soul is taken from him. I know not how such a silly conceit has found its way into their brains; for it is as far from David’s meaning as heaven is from the earth, and it involves in it the wild notion of the Manicheans, with which Servetus was bewitched. But it generally happens that men who are not exercised in the Scriptures, nor imbued with sound theology, although well acquainted with the Hebrew language, yet err and fall into mistakes even in first principles. Under the word heart the Psalmist comprehends the whole soul. He does not, however, mean, when he speaks of the heart failing, that the essence or substance of the soul fails, but that all the powers which God in his goodness has bestowed upon it, and the use of which it retains only so long as he pleases, fall into decay.
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