'My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever' Psalm 73:26.
I never thought much till now of this verse as literal, that flesh and heart will fail, in actual fact: That as we are made of dust, so to dust we shall return. I only thought of the sensations of flesh and heart failing as a result of various trials. In these trials, 'God is the strength of my heart', and he can bring us through the trials to his own praise and glory.
However, that literal flesh and heart, the intricately and fearfully and wonderfully made clay of our physical frame, will one day fail, and our spirits fly away to God who gave them: these things were not nearly as much in my thoughts as they are now. But why should these things surprise us? We have been warned of them from the beginning (Genesis 3:18).
Newton was familiar with the literality of these things in his hymn, 'Amazing Grace':
Yes, when this heart and flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease:
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of health and peace.
Yes, when all the causes of disease and death and lack of peace are finally rooted out, why should we not hope to enjoy 'a life of health and peace'? But perhaps the promise of Psalm 73 is better still: to have God as our portion for ever. What an amazingly large and broad hope this is! To have Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as our own portion or possession; and not just for a limited period, but for ever. This truly staggers mind and heart and all our mental powers. Yet it is true. Let us rejoice in it and hope for it to the end.
Happy the man whose hopes rely
On Israel’s God: He made the sky,
And earth, and seas, with all their train:
His truth for ever stands secure;
He saves th’oppressed, He feeds the poor,
And none shall find His promise vain.
The Lord has eyes to give the blind;
The Lord supports the sinking mind;
He sends the labouring conscience peace;
He helps the stranger in distress,
The widow, and the fatherless,
And grants the pris’ner sweet release.
He loves His saints, He knows them well,
But turns the wicked down to hell;
Thy God, O Zion! ever reigns:
Let every tongue, let every age,
In this exalted work engage;
Praise Him in everlasting strains.
I’ll praise Him while He lends me breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers;
My days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life, and thought, and being last,
Or immortality endures.