But God will redeem me

The poor and the weak seem disadvantaged when compared with the rich and powerful. The rich and the powerful can seem immortal when they get landmarks and streets and buildings named after themselves. It is a joke at Moody Bible Institute that people will donate to buildings but it’s hard to get them to donate to the small things that will not carry their name. It seems to be a quest for immortality. However, Psalm 49 points out that ultimately the quest to honour ourselves and make our name last is pointless.

The poor have a sure reply to the tyranny of the rich: But God will redeem me.

Psalm 49
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
4 I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

5 Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
6 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
7 No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
8 the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
9 so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses[b] forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had[c] named lands after themselves.

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

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.[d]
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.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,
who will never again see the light of life.

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

Questions

  1. What kind of words does this psalm contain?
  2. How are Ecclesiastes, Job and this psalm related?
  3. How does this psalm reverse traditional thoughts of rich and poor?
  4. How do you envy or get distracted by rich or powerful people?
  5. How do you view death?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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5 Responses to But God will redeem me

  1. Kalana Mei Powell says:

    1) Words that are related to death and destruction. Not in a scary, taunting way but in the same manner as Ecclesiastes: comfort in the finality.
    2) These books are connected because they recognize the lack of importance of wealth and power, instead they focus on being content in where you are in the moment. The Psalmist has more hope in God after death than that of the author of Ecclesiastes.
    3) It paints the poor as the lucky and the rich as the ones to be pitied. It’s true, when I was in India and Cambodia the poor people had so much more joy than the people in America whoa are always striving for more. The christians there were focused on helping one another, here even the christian desire to be great on our own power–we see this as “reaching our potential”.
    4) I envy people who are able to travel, go to school, buy what they want. I struggle with worry (which comes from my desire to control~my core weakness) and so I crave freedom from financial worries through having money. I get jealous when I see people going to beautiful, exotic places. I mean, really, when I see other people getting what I want when I am told “no” or “wait”.
    5)Depends on my mood. My theology stays the same but how I feel about death changes. Sometimes I crave it, the shedding of tears, stress, and dissatisfaction, the ability to be in God’s presence and have free communication with him. I do not crave heaven when I feel fully alive here. More and more my heart recognizes how greatly I need more than this life can give me. I want to be in free communication with God.

  2. Vickiel Garcia says:

    1-The majority of the verbs are in active form and usually in the future tense. Also it is mainly talking about people and not God.
    2-They are wisdom literature that clearly highlight the reality of death.
    3-Rich people think they will remain, whether by the name in their lands or others, but this psalm says, that they will pass away too. The Psalmist says that they trust in themselves, therefore they will perish.
    4-I wish I had the money as easy as they have it, to pay for what is needed, and to give it to those who need it. I get distracted when I see some of my friends that are just wasting their money, when I am under pressure to ask my dad for money to pay for school.
    5-I view death as something that is coming. That is one thing I have enjoyed of maturity, I can now see it without fear but with great glory and anticipation because it will be the gateway to a place of no fear, no pain, in which there will be no need for the sun because of God’s glory shinning. I am afraid of dying conscious in a fatal way, such as drowning or burned or asphyxiated, yet the greatest comfort that I have in life is to know that God has everything in control. I might not understand, but He does and that is well with me. I try to look past death into the glory that comes after it. When somebody that I know in Christ dies, I am at times overwhelmed with the thought of them being in the glory of heaven, meeting all of the people that I hope one day I will meet. It is fascinating to me, how I can not understand heaven, and as John Piper once said that the glorious moments that we have on earth are just a glimpse of what is on heaven, and let me tell you there are some very awesome moments in life. I do not know when I will die, I try to enjoy each moment just in case, and sometimes I could be overwhelmed with the “what if it is now” for instance right now as I write and I am about to go out with my mother to get my sister. It is dark and dangerous, but I am now having to make and effort to get back to God and trust in Him, not the danger that could come. But God answered our prayers and we went out and came back safely.
    I think it is god we do not know the date and hour, we live more free of worries 🙂

  3. Meredith Frank says:

    1. What kind of words does this psalm contain? Words of instruction; questioning words; wise, proverbial words
    2. How are Ecclesiastes, Job and this psalm related? They all consider riches and material blessings to be merely earthly elements. All three acknowledge that man will die and when he does, he will bring no treasures with him.
    3. How does this psalm reverse traditional thoughts of rich and poor? The psalm declares that whether you have great wealth, worship people who have great wealth, or desire great wealth, you need to remember that wealth does not endure. Both the rich man and the poor man’s view is corrupt because he puts his trust in the safety of money and not God.
    4. How do you envy or get distracted by rich or powerful people? I love the creativity of fashion, but affordable clothing often is not “innovative,” “bold,” or “different.” Hollywood stars and people with high-paying jobs can afford to buy those interesting, “out there” clothing pieces and oftentimes, I find myself wishing I could have those outfits too.
    5. How do you view death? I view death as the passing of the trials and temptations of this sinful world and the beginning of the most satisfying walk with God I could never possibly imagine

  4. Julie Nadykto says:

    1. What kind of words does this psalm contain?
    Focuses on the view of death and just how people obtain riches but in the end all stays behind.
    2. How are Ecclesiastes, Job and this psalm related?
    The riches that one possesses does not satisfy for one day its there and than its taken from them. Just on how our lives get consumed by the wealth and prestige and we forget that we came here with nothing we will leave with nothing.
    3. How does this psalm reverse traditional thoughts of rich and poor?
    The rich seem to be happier on the outside to the rest of the world but its the poor that find to be most happy because they learn to live with what they have and not get attached to the riches of this world because they fade.
    4. How do you envy or get distracted by rich or powerful people?
    I find myself coveting at times people who don’t have to think twice how they will pay for things and entertainment and pleasure is at their finger tips. I get distracted because my heart is not set on the heavenly things but earthly possessions.
    5. How do you view death?
    Before I was afraid of it, but now the more I grow closer in my relationship with God I find myself just wanting to leave all this stuff behind that I cant take with me anyways, and that I have something so much more in heaven than this world could ever offer me.

  5. icepick2000 says:

    1. Darker words. Words concerned with eternality and destruction. Death and vanity.

    2. All of them point to something more. They all talk about struggles in this life, and the ultimate reason for living, even through suffering, is in God. The psalms really voice man’s struggles with God and man, Job is a specific example of that, and Ecclesiastes is a man struggling to understand what life is all about.

    3. “Whoever dies with the most toys wins”. This message might not be preached but it is certainly practiced in our culture today. But this psalm tells the truth about these ideas, and the belief about the poor having a miserable life is only true in the present tense. But the poor get the better deal, a deal that even the rich cannot buy. The poor will live forever (as long as they have followed God).

    4. I wish all my bills and finances were taken care of. I really wish that I had that “comfort” that the rich possess due to financial security. I get jealous, which is absurd considering I have true comfort and security. They may be set here on earth, but when you die, none of that carries over with you. The only thing that matters is what you’ve done with Christ.

    5. Haha, I have a very interesting view and take on death. I long for death. That isn’t a cry for help (I’m not suicidal, I promise), but I really can’t wait for death to finally take me. I mess up so often here on earth, it can bring even the most optimistic person down. I continue to sin against God, the One whom I love. This gets to me in such a deep way. I hate myself for it, and I cannot wait for those days to end. The day where mistakes are no longer made, oh how I long for that day! I’m not sure if this view is an acceptable one or not, as death is a pure contradiction to life, which God intended life for us. I know God has redeemed me, and so I have hope. I just don’t want to sin against my Maker anymore.

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