Psalm Forty Nine

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Navigate to Verse

To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.

Psalm 49:1 Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:

inhabitants of the world. The psalmist here explicitly directs his words not only to Israel, but to the whole world, for its promises and warnings are of universal application in every age and nation.

Psalm 49:2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.

Psalm 49:3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

Psalm 49:4 I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.

parable ... dark saying. The Hebrew word for “parable” is the same as for “proverb,” meaning a pithy saying. A “dark saying” refers to a more enigmatic saying. Both terms are deemed applicable to this discussion of both the certainty and mystery of death.

Psalm 49:5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

the days of evil. That is, the days of old age (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Ever since the entrance of sin and death into the world, followed by the Protevangelic promise that the Serpent would bruise the heel of the woman's Seed (Genesis 3:15), her children in every age have been stung by Satan with his iniquities throughout their lives, amassing an impressive total as the end of life nears. In view of God's promised redemption, however (Psalm 49:8, 15), there is no need to fear.

Psalm 49:6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

Psalm 49:7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:

Psalm 49:8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)

ceaseth for ever. The redemption of one's precious soul must be accomplished prior to his death, or not at all. See Psalm 49:15, and note Hebrews 9:27.

Psalm 49:9 That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.

Psalm 49:10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.

wise men die. Neither the wealth of the rich (Psalm 49:6) nor the brilliance of the wise can conquer death or pay an adequate ransom to God (Psalm 49:7) to provide redemption from death (1 Peter 1:19-20).

Psalm 49:11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.

Psalm 49:12 Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 49:13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah

Psalm 49:14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.

Psalm 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah

the grave. “Grave” here is the Hebrew sheol (also in Psalm 49:14), but this psalm testifies of the certainty of redemption of the righteous from death and hell.

shall receive me. The understanding acceptance of God's provision of redemption will assure a welcoming reception by God after death (Hebrews 9:15).

Psalm 49:16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;

Psalm 49:17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.

Psalm 49:18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

Psalm 49:19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.

Psalm 49:20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.

understandeth not. No matter how rich or wise or honorable a man may be, if he rejects or neglects an understanding acceptance of God's redemption through Jesus Christ, he is no better off than a dead beast when he dies. Actually he is worse off, for he must yet face God's judgment and then spend eternity in conscious awareness that he is lost forever (2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 14:11).