There is no security in the possession and enjoyment of wealth,
for money cannot buy the redemption of the soul.
God’s children, though poor, are truly happy above the most prosperous of this world because they are guarded against the terrors of death and judgment to come.
1 Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:
2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.
3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.
4 I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.
5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?
6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;
7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:
8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)
9 That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.
10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their 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 their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.
14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
16 Be not thou afraid when one is made 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 while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.
19 He 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.
Psalm 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Psalm 49 – The Folly of Trusting in Riches
Here is a proclamation worthy of the hearing of all the world. The psalmist is listening to voices unheard by ordinary ears. Be sure to listen to God’s voice, and then unfold His dark sayings in music. However dark they may seem in their mystery and awe, they may be uttered in song. See Revelation 15:3-4.
The burden of the psalm is the impotence of wealth. The millionaire cannot prolong the life of his sick child. And even if, like Queen Elizabeth, he cries on his dying bed: “A million of money for a moment of time!” the sand passes unheeding through the hour-glass. He must leave stocks and shares, jewels and gold, at the summons of Death, described in Psalm 49:14 as the shepherd who calls his flock to fold it in Sheol. How different the lot of the righteous! As eternity dawns, they are redeemed from the power of the grave and pass to the bosom of God. What are the riches and glory of this world compared with the sense of God’s presence in the humble and contrite heart! To have that is to have the essence of all! “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” Psalm 73:25. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Psalm 49:5—Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil?
Have I not God? At sundry times and in divers manners, He spake to, and succoured his saints. Will He not come to me, and cast around me the soft mantle of his protecting love? And if I love Him, do I need any beside?
“Who that one moment has the least descried Him,
Dimly and faintly, hidden and afar,
Doth not despise all excellence beside Him,
Pleasures and powers that are not, and that are?”
Did He not walk with Enoch, and then take him home, before the deluge came? Did He not shut Noah in, with his own hand, that there should be no jeopardy from the overflowing flood? Did He not assure Abram that He was his shield and exceeding great reward, quieting his fears against any possible combination of foes? Did He not preserve his servant Moses from the fury of Pharaoh and the murmurings of Israel? Was not Elijah hidden in the secret of his pavilion from the wrath of Ahab? Did He not send his angel to shut the lions’ mouths that they might not hurt Daniel? Were not the coals of the burning fiery furnace as sweet and soft as forest glades to the feet of the three young confessors? Has God ever forsaken those that trusted Him? Has He ever given them over to the will of their enemies?
Wherefore, then, should I fear in the day of evil? I may be standing on the deck, the ship is beset by icebergs and jagged splintered rocks; the fog drapes everything, as the way slowly opens through this archipelago of peril: but God is at the helm—why should I fear? Days of evil to others cannot be so to me, for the presence of God transmutes the evil to good. —Our Daily Homily