“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” Psalm 16:6
This verse struck me with special force yesterday in my daily reading of the M’Cheyne plan. I have certainly thought about this psalm before, for David’s words have a particularly powerful way of directly confronting one of my besetting sins: discontent.
Many times as I read these words I have had to humble my heart and ask forgiveness for fretted about different aspects of my life situation, whether job, family, housing, finance. I often didn’t feel like I was in a pleasant place.
It is easy to think of David sitting on his throne in his palace of cedar and gold and writing “The lines have fallen in pleasant places.” But perhaps he wrote these words when he was hungry and alone in a dark and smelly cave, fleeing Saul.
Today, we have all found ourselves with new unchosen boundary lines. Setting healthy boundaries—a topic for many self-help books—has taken on a new and sinister meaning. We go to the store and see lines of tape every 6 feet to keep us apart: healthy boundaries indeed.
Many of our choices have been stripped away. The boundaries have closed in…we cannot move. No, I can’t go hang out at my favorite coffee shop with a friend. No, I can’t go to the book store and browse the shelves for a new reading adventure. No, I can’t see what great bargain I can find at the thrift store to change up my wardrobe. No, I can’t start planning a trip to see my precious grandson in Hawaii, who is growing up so quickly. All my thoughts crash into the new boundaries set around me: No, No, No.
But David gives us the key to making these and all boundaries pleasant. “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup.” In this time of isolation, I can choose to focus on God himself. I can gaze with fresh wonder on the mercy and grace that led him to the cross. I can read the Bible and drink deeply of his precious word, preserved for me by God’s determined will and the suffering of unnumbered saints.
And I can pray for those for whom the new boundaries are creating real suffering, for those who are sick, for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have lost jobs, for those on the front lines of serving in a pandemic.
The word used for line in Psalm 16:6 comes from the Hebrew word for cord since boundary lines for individual portions of land were measured and set with a standard length of cord. Cords were used on Jesus when he was bound and taken away to Pilate to be judged for our sins (Mark 15:1). These cords are part of the beautiful inheritance we have in Christ.