Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Psalm 49

In many ways I find Psalm 49 to be like a condensed version of the book of Ecclesiastics. It seems to cover much of the emptiness and vanity that is man's lot without God.

Verses 1-4: To him that excelleth. A Psalm committed to the sons of Korah. Hear this, all ye people: give ear, all ye that dwell in the world,as well low as high, both rich and poor. My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and the meditation of mine heart is of knowledge. I will incline mine ear to a parable, and utter my grave matter upon the harp.

Here the psalmist says that everyone needs to listen to this. Everyone in the world. Whether you are counted as important by other men, or are just an average person, you need to hear this! What the psalmist is going to say is wisdom and knowledge, yet of course it is not his own, but God's.

Verses 5-9: Wherefore should I fear in the evil days, when iniquity shall compass me about, as at mine heels? They trust in their goods, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches. Yet a man can by no means redeem his brother: he cannot give his ransom to God, (So precious is the redemption of their souls, and the continuance forever) That he may live still forever, and not see the grave.

What do I have to be afraid of when sin surrounds me? Those who are rich, what good are those riches to them? Their money can't buy the salvation of their brother. And what is the value of riches compared to the value of a man's soul? In the New Testament we find in Matthew 16:26 "For what shall it profit a man though he should win the whole world, if he lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give for recompense of his soul?" All of a man's riches does him absolutely no good in the matter of salvation. In fact, riches may be a detriment. Jesus says in Mark 10:25 "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
That should give one pause. If you are rich, and who in America today is not, by the rest of the world’s standards, then this pertains to you. This should concern you enough to dig out your Bible and read on from verse 25, for the answer is clearly given.

Verses 10-14: For he seeth that wise men die, and also that the ignorant and foolish perish, and leave their riches for others. Yet they think, their houses, and their habitations shall continue forever, even from generation to generation, and call their lands by their names. But man shall not continue in honor: he is like the beasts that die. This their way uttereth their foolishness: yet their posterity delight in their talk. Selah. Like sheep they lie in grave: death devoureth them, and the righteous shall have domination over them in the morning: for their beauty shall consume, when they shall go from their house to grave.

Men think that they can erect buildings and accumulate great wealth and their accomplishments and their families will live on after them, but whether a man is wise or a fool, all the same he will die and cannot take his riches with him. His family may brag about how great a man he was, but even that is short lived. No matter how important a man strives to be, just like an animal, he will die.

Verses 15-20: But God shall deliver my soul from the power of the grave: for he will receive me. Selah. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, and when the glory of his house is increased. For he shall take nothing away when he dieth, neither shall his pomp descend after him. For while he lived, he rejoiced himself: and men will praise thee, when thou makest much of thyself. He shall enter into the generation of his fathers, and they shall not live forever. Man is in honor, and understandeth not: he is like to beasts that perish.

Don't let it bother you when others become rich and famous. They won't take any of their riches or fame with them when they die. A man may be famous, but if he does not understand God's salvation, does not know God, it does him no good. He may just as well be an animal. Proverbs 9:10 says "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and the knowledge of holy things, is understanding." The understanding that the man in this Psalm lacks is the understanding of the holy. If he were to understand the holiness of God, it would cause him to fear, which in turn would be the beginning of wisdom.

You see, once you start to understand the holiness of God, and how it is reflected in his laws and commandments, it should scare you. When you realize that you have not kept God's laws and are under his judgment, it cannot help but cause you to fear, and that is the beginning of wisdom. But the man who is like the beast that perishes, is so because he has never had an understanding of the holiness of God. It is a pretty depressing picture. But praise the Lord we have verse 15 of this Psalm.

Verse 15 says " But God shall deliver my soul from the power of the grave: for he will receive me." A similar verse in the New Testament is found in John 14:3 when Jesus says "And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there may ye be also."

It is only God that can save us. It is only through the death of Jesus Christ in payment for our sins that we can avoid the judgment that we deserve. It is only by faith in that payment, which leads to repentance from our sins, that we can be received by Christ.


Dennis said...

Well done, Lee!

St.Lee said...

Thanks. That was my contribution to yesterday's service at Friendship Manor.