Note: Last Sunday afternoon’s message was a meditation on Psalm 49 as a “wisdom psalm.” Below are some of my notes:
“But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.” (Psalm 49:15)
The message of Psalm 49 is that death is coming to all men. It may seem for the short term that the wicked prosper, giving no heed to God and the things of God, but this is not to discourage the saints who are to press on, continuing to live righteous and godly lives, knowing that they have a hope that extends beyond this life, even eternal life with Christ.
Spurgeon summarized Psalm 49 in his “Treasury of David” as follows: “The poet musician sings, to the accompaniment of his harp, of the despicable character of those who trust in their wealth, and so he consoles the oppressed believer.”
Here are three words of wisdom in Psalm 49:
1. It is foolish to trust in wealth (vv. 5-9).
There are some things that money cannot purchase. It cannot purchase salvation. It cannot be used to redeem one’s own soul or the soul of one you love. In v. 7 we read: “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” I think of the Rich Man in Luke 16 who had a burden for his lost brothers, yet all his earthly wealth and influence did him no spiritual good in the grave.
2. Death will one day separate us from every material thing that we possess (vv. 10-12; 16-20).
Notice in v. 11 the mention of those who name their dwelling places after themselves: “they call their lands after their own names.” We see much of that in our area. But one day those signs proudly placed at the entrances of grand farms will crumble and that land will pass to others.
Notice in v. 17 the psalmist’s warning that in death man will carry nothing away: “For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away.” Compare:
Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Most of those we consider the best known of our day will one day be largely forgotten. The most athletic and beautiful of our generation will eventually be brought low in death. “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (v. 20).
3. For the believer, however, there is hope (vv. 14-15).
The Psalmist pictures death as like a shepherd leading all to the grave (v. 14). But for the believer there is hope: “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah” (v. 15). What a word of comfort this might be for the believer when he lies on his death bed. What a good funeral text this would be for a believer.
It is often debated what the Old Testament teaches about the afterlife. We might add this verse to the constellation of passages (including Job 19:25-26 and Daniel 12:2-3) which suggest that the Old Testament saints also knew the resurrection hope. What lies in the shadows in the Old Testament, however, is brought fully into the light in the New Testament as Jesus taught: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
What does it mean to live a wise life? It means to understand:
(1) that it is foolish to trust in wealth (including to envy those who have what we do not);
(2) that we will one day part from every dear and prized possession;
and (3) that for those who trust in Christ, there is a glorious hope.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
This is very sober and helpful. Thank you for sharing.
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