The Psalms

Psalm 49

An earnest persuasion to build the faith of resurrection, not on worldly power, but on God, 1-15. Worldly prosperity is not to be admired, 16-20.

1 [To the Chief Musician. A Psalm for the Sons of Korah.]

Hear this, all you people./
Give ear, all you inhabitants of the world,

Both low and high,/
rich and poor together.

My mouth shall speak of wisdom./
The meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

I will incline my ear to a parable./
I will open my dark saying upon the harp.

Why should I fear in the days of evil/
when the iniquity of my heels encompasses me?

Those who trust in their wealth/
and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches,

None of them can by any means redeem his brother,/
nor give to God a ransom for him

(For the redemption of their soul is costly,/
and it ceases forever),

That he should still live forever/
and not see corruption.

10 For he sees that wise men die;/
likewise the fool and the brutish person perish/
and leave their wealth to others.

11 Their inward thought is that their houses shall continue forever/
and their dwelling places to all generations./
They call their lands after their own names.

12 Nevertheless, man being in honor does not abide./
He is like the beasts that perish.

13 Their way is their folly,/
yet their posterity approve their sayings./

14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave./
Death shall feed on them./
The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning./
Their beauty shall consume/
in the grave from their dwelling.

15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,/
for he shall receive me./

16 Do not be afraid when one is made rich,/
when the glory of his house is increased,

17 For when he dies he shall carry nothing away./
His glory shall not descend after him.

18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul—
and men will praise you when you do well to yourself—

19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers./
They shall never see light.

20 A man who is in honor and does not understand/
is like the beasts that perish.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Psalms, Chapter 49[➚]


John Calvin's Chapter Summary:

The wicked and the votaries of worldly pleasure often enjoy prosperity, while such as fear the Lord are exposed to affliction, and disposed to faint under the pressure of it. To moderate that pride which the one class is apt to feel in the midst of their success, and administer a check to the despondency of the other, the Psalmist shows what little reason we have to envy the supposed happiness of the ungodly, which, even when at its height, is vain and evanescent; and he teaches us that good men, however great their trials may be, are objects of the divine regard, and will be eventually delivered from their enemies.

[v.8] - "and it ceases forever" - From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "that is, the ransom fails, the price is too precious, costly."