Psalm 49

Psalm 49
The Moral Conclusions of the Faithful
Psalm 49. This Psalm is another of the sons of Korah, and concludes the series of Psa. 42-48 as a moral conclusion.1 When we speak of the purpose of prophecy, we often think of the moral import of prophecy. This Psalm is a good example of the moral conclusion of prophecy in the hearts and conscience of the faithful. This Psalm may be a sample of what restored Israel will teach the nations who come up to Jerusalem in the Millennium (Isa. 2:1-2).
To the chief Musician. Of the sons of Korah. A Psalm.
1 Hear this, all ye peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world:
2 Both men of low and men of high degree, rich and poor alike.
3 My mouth shall speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding:
4 I will incline mine ear to a parable, I will open my riddle upon the harp.
vv.1-4 The Call to Hear. The faithful call to all the peoples of the earth to hear these moral conclusions. The audience is universal; everyone needs to hear this.
5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of adversity, when the iniquity of my supplanters encompasseth me? —
6 They depend upon their wealth, and boast themselves in the abundance of their riches. …
7 None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him,
8 (For the redemption of their soul is costly, and must be given up for ever,)
9 That he should still live perpetually, and not see corruption.
10 For he seeth that wise men die; all alike, the fool and the brutish perish, and they leave their wealth to others.
11 Their inward thought is, that their houses are for ever, their dwelling-places from generation to generation: they call the lands after their own names.
12 Nevertheless, man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.
13 This their way is their folly, yet they that come after them delight in their sayings. Selah.
14 Like sheep are they laid in Sheol: Death feedeth on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their comeliness shall be for Sheol to consume, that there be no habitation for them.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol: for he will receive me. Selah.
16 Be not afraid when a man becometh rich, when the glory of his house is increased:
17 For when he dieth, he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him.
18 Though he blessed his soul in his lifetime, — and men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself, —
19 It shall go to the generation of his fathers: they shall never see light.
20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.
vv.5-20 The Instruction. The great lesson is that all of man’s wisdom, wealth, and strength is vanity, and will come to nothing. There is nothing blessed or enduring apart from Christ! No amount of money can ransom a soul from death (vv.6-9). Man, for all his wealth, wisdom, and planning is like a beast that perishes (vv.10-13). All that man possesses, strength and natural beauty, is nothing by food for death to feed on (v.14). Only God’s redeeming power can deliver a soul from this unavoidable end (v.15)! Men can grow rich in this life, but they must leave it all behind (vv.16-19). Apart from the understanding of God, nothing separates man from the beasts that perish (v.20). This is the solemn picture that prophecy paints, and which the sober ones will observe and profit from.
  1. Psalm 49 is a moral conclusion for all, founded on these judgments of God. Wealth, elevation, all that is exalted in man, is nothing. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
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