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FRAMEWORKS: Psalm 49: Facing the Reality of Death


For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.


[Preliminary Comments: A song that is a great leveler. The psalmist appeals to all who might lose perspective, those who envy the rich and those who are rich. The truth is that we will all die, there are no exceptions, and the wise should simply trust God for the afterlife.]



v.1,2 A call to all to listen


v.1  Hear this, all you peoples;
    listen, all who live in this world,
v.2  both low and high,
    rich and poor alike:

v.3,4 He will draw on various aspects of wisdom


v.3  My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
v.4  I will turn my ear to a proverb;
    with the harp I will expound my riddle:


v.5,6 He considers bad days when the wicked & the rich prevail


v.5  Why should I fear when evil days come,
    when wicked deceivers surround me—
v.6  those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of their great riches?

v.7-9 The truth is that none of these can impact eternity


v.7  No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
v.8  the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—
v.9  so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.

v.10,11 The trust is also that everyone WILL die, we're all the same


v.10  For all can see that the wise die,
    that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
    leaving their wealth to others.
v.11  Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
    their dwellings for endless generations,
    though they had named lands after themselves.


v.12,13 Those who trust in riches or themselves are no better off – they will die


v.12  People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
    they are like the beasts that perish.

v.13  This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

v.14,15 Rather like sheep we'll all die & it is only God who will redeem us


v.14  They are like sheep and are destined to die;
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions.
v.15  But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
    he will surely take me to himself.

v.16,17 So we're not to be impressed by the rich, they'll suffer the same fate


v.16  Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
    when the splendor of their houses increases;
v.17  for they will take nothing with them when they die,
    their splendor will not descend with them.

v.18-20 The may think highly of themselves but that won't stop them dying


v.18  Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
    and people praise you when you prosper—
v.19  they will join those who have gone before them,
    who will never again see the light of life.

v.20  People who have wealth but lack understanding
    are like the beasts that perish.



[Additional Thoughts: There is folly in never thinking about what follows death because it comes to us all. No one can escape death and so it doesn't matter our lifestyle today. It's the same end for all. Perhaps a corollary is that we should not envy the foolish rich, for one day they too will face their Maker.]



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