10“For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. 12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he Is like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. 14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. 15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah 16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. 17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. 18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. 20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.”
The psalmist is continuing his thoughts from verses 1-9 where he’s addressing “all peoples…both low and high, rich and poor…” Not just Israel but “all inhabitants of the world.” (Psalm 49: 1-2) All are facing death, and everyone will be held accountable for their lives. There are those who spend their lives excessively pursuing wealth, worldly comforts, endless knowledge, and immediate gratification, making themselves and their pursuits their own gods. They are absolutely confident in their foolishness, having believed with a religious conviction what they’ve been taught, that there is no God! We’ve come from nothing, we’re going nowhere, and life has no purpose. If satisfaction is to be had, it must be had now!
Our culture today is reaping what we’ve sown for decades in our schools, in our courts, and in our media. It has resulted in a hopelessness in our youth, an ever-growing rejection of authority, and a degradation of human civility. Jude speaks of a people like this as he writes, 8“Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones…10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain…” (Jude 8, 10, 11a)
But in all this gloomy warning of impending eternal darkness there is a glimmer of hope. “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” (Psalm 49:15) How is the writer so confident in this? Because whenever we find ourselves in despair, temptation, hopeless, helpless, or fearful…“But God!” Remember Him! The Bible constantly calls us to remember the God we serve. The God who created us. The God who has a purpose and plan for our lives.
The Old Testament church wasn’t so different from our New Testament church in its need for powerful, faith building preaching calling us to remember our God and the things He has done. Our faith and hope are in the same God. We simply know Him by a new Name: the name Christ Jesus. He hasn’t changed, just the effectual sacrifice upon which our salvation and eternal life are based has.
Speaking of Christ, we read, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15) Our psalmist is looking forward even as we are to the redemption that has always been promised for those who believe and receive by faith God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Prayer for today: Gracious heavenly Father, You are a loving, kind, patient God, not treating us as our sins deserve. Thank You for Your loving grace revealed in, and through, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen!