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