PSALM 49 TALK: MONEY MATTERS (THE DELUSION OF THE LOVE OF MONEY AND ITS CONSEQUENCES)

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PSALM 49 TALK

MONEY MATTERS

(THE DELUSION OF THE LOVE OF MONEY AND ITS CONSEQUENCES)

INTRODUCTION

When I first read this Psalm recently my heart sank when I realised it is about “Money”. Money has caused for me from time to time some pain and conflict. Even in the Church I have seen how money can cause conflicts and disagreements. I have been on many Church committees over the years and everyone gets on great unto we start to discus how we should or should not spend money and sometimes this has caused division and conflict. The world of course is caught up in a pursuit of riches which Paul calls, “The love of money” giving advice to his younger prodigy Timothy he writes in 1 Timothy 6: 10,

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pieced themselves with many grief’s”.

 Psalm 49 has much to say about the subject of money and the pursuit of riches. We will learn from this Psalm the folly and uselessness of making money and riches the goal of our lives. We will also see the fate of those who live for money and riches and encouragingly we will also see how only by trusting in God can we find salvation and blessing in this life.

This Psalm is the final “Son’s of Korah” Psalm in this second book of Psalms however more of these Psalms will come up again in book 3 in Psalms 84, 85, 87 and 88. A very prominent son of Korah named Asaph will give us the next Psalm, 50 and he too will offer eleven more Psalms in book 2, 73 – 83. This Psalm is an unusual “Son of Korah” Psalm as it does not mention the Temple like all of the Korah Psalms we have studied so far have and this Psalm is more like a piece of Wisdom literature. Leupold sees it to be like coming from the book of Proverbs while Kidner thinks it is like it comes from the book of Ecclesiastes and Adam Clarke thinks it is in the style of the book of Job.

The writer in his opening introduction of four verses gives no indication of when it was written but we can gain from verse 5 that rich powerful people were giving him a difficult time. We therefore can only open up this Psalm in the context of the general setting of this verse. The writer does make it clear in verse 4 that his words are to be used as a song as he writes,

“I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle”

 Finally like most of the “Son’s of Korah” Psalms so far it does seem to have a chorus or refrain in verse’s 12 and verse 20. This hint of a refrain has determined my structure for this Psalm, which is:

  1. THE FORESIGHTED WISE SONG FOR EVERYONE (1 – 4)
  1. THE FOLLY AND USELESSNESS OF TRUSTING IN MONEY AND RICHES (5 – 12)
  1. THE FATE OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN MONEY AND RICHES CONTRASTED BY THOSE WHO TRUST IN GOD (13 – 20)
  1. THE FORESIGHTED WISE SONG FOR EVERYONE (1 – 4)

 This Psalm begins with a very unusual introduction of four verses. It is unusual in whom it is addressed to and what it has to say about the nature of the song this Son of Korah is about to sing. So let’s look at:

  1. Who it is addressed to (1 – 2)
  2. The nature of the song he is about to sing (3 – 4)
  1. Who it is addressed to

 The first two verses indicate who this song is relevant for or who it was composed for. The verses read,

“Hear this, all you peoples; listen all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor”.

 This Psalm is not addressed to God as a prayer either as a petition or a word of praise. It is not addressed to the Nation of Israel. It is addressed to, “this world” or to general mankind. Leopold notes other places in the bible where this way of addressing occurs and they are,

Deuteronomy 32: 1,

“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth”

 Micah 1: 2,

“Hear, O people, all you, listen, O earth and all who are in it, that the Sovereign Lord may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple”.

 The final example of these words of introduction are found in the book of 1 Kings during the reigns of Jehoshaphat in Judah and Ahab in Israel and they come from the mouth of a Levite prophet named Micalah in 1 Kings 22: 28,

“Micalah declared, “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me. Then he added “Mark my words, all you people”.

 The words then, “Hear this all you people” and “all who live in this world”, Leupold points out are,

 “Merely figurative way of saying that the words to be spoken were of vast importance”.

 They are words for everyone and the next verse makes that even clearer,

“Both low and high, rich and poor alike”

 You see it is not only the Jews or rich people of every nation but the poor of this world as well who have problems with the love of money and the pursuit of riches. The rich want more and more and the poor want to be rich and they often will do anything to achieve this.

  1. The nature of the song he is about to sing (3 – 4)

These introductory four verses not only are addressed to everyone in this world but spell out the nature of the kind of message it will be. Verse’s 3 and 4 reads,

“My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding”.

 The key words are “speak words of wisdom”, “utterance from my heart will give understanding”, “a proverb” and “riddle”.

 All these terms indicate that his song contains truths about life that are very important and valuable. He is also implying that God has given him special inspiration in the words,

“Utterance from my heart will give understanding”

 Interestingly it was during the time of Solomon that great numbers of proverbs were written lead of course by Solomon himself and these works of proverbs seemed to overshadow the writing of Psalms as time went along. However here we have a Psalm, like David’s Psalm 37 before it that reads more like something coming from the book of proverbs.

This man is a musician clearly seen in the words,

“I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle”.

 This means the content of his song was very deep and meaningful and Spurgeon writes,

“To win attention he cast his proverbial philosophy into the form of song, and tuned his harp to the solemn tone of his subject. Let us gather round the minstrel of the King of kings, and hear the Psalm which first was led by the chief musician, as the chorus of the sons of Korah lifted up their voices in the temple”.

 I have heard many Christians criticise modern hymns saying that many of them lack the depth of theology of many of the older hymns of the past. Personally I know that there were lots of so-called hymns of the past that also lacked great theology.

Interestingly the ones that we still sing from the past are those, which contain great theology so maybe the modern hymns that will be sung in the future are those, which are,

“utterance from my heart”

 And which,

Will give understanding”

 This first section then speaks of the song that follows, as a foresighted wise song for everyone and this should make us sit up and listen to what this song is about to tell us.

2. THE FOLLY AND USELESSNESS OF TRUSTING IN MONEY AND RICHES (5 – 12)

Verse 5 sets up what this song teaches us about the folly and uselessness of trusting in money and riches. This verse starts with the words,

“Why should I fear”?

 The writer or composer of this song sets down the premise for his writing. He is in great danger and has been fearing powerful enemies. We know it is human enemies because of what he says next,

“When evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me”

 These “wicked deceivers” are people, who suffer from a powerful deception and this deception is stated in verse 6 as,

“Those who trust in their wealth and boast of their riches”.

 So it seems the writer considers that he is poor or at least not rich and many of the rich people who are his enemies are rich people who use their wealth to both harm and put him down.

The bad treatment of the poor by the rich is a theme in the writings of many of the prophets of Israel and Judah to come. Like these words of Isaiah in chapter 10: 1 – 4,

“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain”.

 The prophet Amos had lots to say to the rich of his day who exploited the poor for their own gain, like we read in Amos 2: 6 – 8,

 “This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.

Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines”.

 So this singer in the temple is a Levite and Levites could not possess land and relied on a tithe from the rest of the nation to survive. Levites who lived outside of Jerusalem did have some land to cultivate but Levites who worked in the Temple of Jerusalem did not have this resource. This put a Temple Levite in a very voluble position and you could imagine that at different times in Israel’s history the Levites could have been in a very bad financial position.

It seems that in a lot of cultures ruthless rich business people who are not conducting their business in an ethical manner prey on the weakest of their societies namely the poor making themselves richer and the poor even poorer.

This persecuted Levite or Son of Korah now sets down why he should not fear these rich oppressors. Coffman sites 9 things this passage presents that riches cannot give us and I have used his 9 things as a basis of my presentation of these same nine things which are:

  1. They cannot buy the eternal life of another (vs. 7)
  2. They cannot use their riches to influence God (vs.8)
  3. They cannot buy their own eternal life (vs. 9a)
  4. They cannot change the natural process of death and decay (9b)
  5. They cannot rely on their wisdom to escape death (vs. 10a)
  6. They cannot take their wealth with them (vs. 10b)
  7. They cannot buy their passage out of their graves (vs.11a)
  8. They cannot use their great names to get out of death (vs. 11b)

   The Refrain or Chorus:

  1. They will not endure and are no better off than animals (vs.12)

 Let’s now look briefly at each of these nine things riches or money cannot buy and I think after we look at each of them we will see that death is the great leveller of mankind.

  1. They cannot buy the eternal life of another (vs.7)

 The writer of this song starts his words of wisdom about the powerlessness of the rich and their money with these words in verse 7,

“No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him”,

 There is a theme that all of the verses in this section will bring to us and that theme is that in the face of death riches are useless and a rich man is not better off than a poor man when they die. Here the idea is that the rich person cannot pay God a ransom for his own life or that of anyone else’s. Kidner points out that,

“The ransom picture is doubly appropriate, since being held to ransom is much of a hazard to the very rich as redemption is the need of the very poor”.

 The bible teaches that,

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)

 This death cannot be escaped by anyone no matter how rich and important they might be and no amount of money can buy your way out of that.

  1. They cannot use their riches to influence God (vs.8)

The last point is expressed in another way to say that God cannot be bought off. The old saying is,

“Money can buy anything”

 But money cannot buy God, as earthly riches are useless in the presence of the God of Heaven and earth as verse 8, reads,

“The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is enough”.

 Paul states this in another way in a verse that leads up to his words on the love of money in 1 Timothy 6: 7,

“For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it”.

 Money therefore in the face of death is useless.

  1. They cannot buy their own eternal life (vs. 9a)

The last point is made even clearer by the next verse, which commences with the words,

“That he should live on forever”

 Many people have tried to use all kinds of things to gain immortality. An ancient example of this is the Egyptians who built Pyramids containing lots of supplies for the afterlife including their sacrificed slaves and servants. They sought to preserve their bodies by the process of mummification so that their souls could return to their bodies and journey into the next life where they would live forever. A modern attempt for immortality is Cryogenics here a persons dead body is frozen after death so that when future medicine is able to provide a cure for their ailments they can be revived to enjoy this new and hopefully forever.

Of course this verse and many others tell us that these methods of achieving eternal life are useless. Paul makes it clear that eternal life is only something God can give and will give to those who have faith in his Son. As the second part of Romans 6: 23 says,

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

  1. They cannot change the natural process of death and decay (9b)

The second half of verse 9 reads,

“And not see decay”

 The ancient Egyptian practice of Mummification and the modern practice of Cryogenics have one thing in common they both seek to stop or delay the natural process of the decay of the body. The longest line I have ever seen in my life was in 2010 on a holiday trip to China when I saw thousands of Chinese people lining up to walk past the preserved body of Chairman Moa. How long the Chinese nation can continue holding up the decay of the body of their beloved former leader I do not know but one day even his body will decay and become dust just as the bodies of the ancient Egyptians have. Besides this they should put up a sign near the Body of Chairman Moa that reads, “His not here he has gone to stand before God in Judgment”. This is a sign only those who believe in the God of the bible would agree with but it’s the truth and all graves of those who did not trust in God should have the same the same sign put up next to them. We will see from verse 15, the sign for those who trust in God rather than riches should read, “He or She is not hear they have gone to be with God forever”.

As the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes says in 3: 20,

“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return”

 Again all the money in the world cannot stop the decay of our bodies forever. They also cannot stop a person having to face God in Judgment. All the money in the world wont get us into God’s heaven and verse 15 will tell us what will get us into God’s heaven.

  1. They cannot can not rely on their wisdom to escape death (vs. 10a)

 Another major factor many people throughout history have relied upon to be superior over others even in death is what they call wisdom or knowledge. This wisdom in the past and even today could involve some kind of religious belief. Many religious leaders have arisen over time claiming to have the secret to immortality. Only Jesus claimed to have the answer to death and demonstrated by his resurrection that he was speaking the truth. The first part of verse 10 reads,

“For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish”.

 Paul makes the importance of the resurrection clear when he says in 1 Corinthians 15: 12 – 14,

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”.

 Particularly in modern times many people rely on scientific knowledge to save them and this is evident in the practice of Cryogenics, which I have already mentioned. People who pin their hope of eternal life by being frozen unto medical science catches up are people who are relying on the wisdom of science for their hope for the future.

Verse 10a then is saying death comes to both the wise and foolish of this world. Paul makes it clear that we should not trust in the false wisdom of this world but on the wisdom of God found only in the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Paul makes this clear in a passage like 1 Corinthians 2: 6 – 8,

“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”.

  1. They cannot take their wealth with them (vs. 10b)

The second half of verse 10 says,

“And leave their wealth to others”

 The concept of the fact that you cannot take your wealth with you when you die comes up in the next section when we read in verse 17,

“For he will take nothing with him when he dies”

 I remember years ago of a rich American man who had some kind of luxury car and wanted to try and defy, “you cannot take it with you” by being buried in his car. I looked for this on the Internet and found a more recent example of it when a man named Lonnie Holloway in a US city called Saluda was buried in his beloved 1973 Catalina in 2009. His family put all his guns in the boot of the car and it was reported that,

“Family members said he didn’t want them (his guns) to get into the wrong hands so he decided they’d go with him as well”.

 Both these men of course could not defy the rule laid down here in Psalm 49 and other parts of the bible that you cannot take anything with you when you die. Both the bodies of these men will decay and eventually turn to dust in their cars, which will rust away and suffer the same fate over time.

Again I quote Pauls words to Timothy,

1 Timothy 6: 7,

“For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it”.

  1. They cannot buy their passage out of their graves (vs.11a)

The opening words of verse 11 read,

“Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations”.

 The great Egyptian Pyramids are testimony to this great fact, the Pyramids have stood for over 3,000 years and what did they achieve for the Pharaoh’s who were laid in them?

They are great wonders of the world but all the effort and money put into them by men who had absolute power in their day amounted to nothing concerning their immortality. They are mere monuments to these men and women who lived in the past.

I have often thought about the great and powerful of the past that in their day seemed invincible but once they died they have no power at all in this life and maybe this is what this Son of Korah has in mind when he said in verse 5,

“Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me?”

The point is all the power and wealth in the world cannot buy or guarantee passage from the grave to eternal life with God in heaven. Jesus made that way very clear when he claimed in John 14: 6,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

  1. They cannot use their great names to get out of death (vs. 11b)

The second half of verse 11 reads,

“Though they had named lands after themselves”

 So even having a famous name and even having places named after you has no value to help you through death. Spurgeon aptly sums up the entire verse 11 with theses insightful words,

“Man is so fond of immortality that, while he foolishly rejects the reality of it he clings to the name of it; and he builds a house which he ties down by entail to his heirs, and his heirs’ heirs, “for ever,” as he calls it. And then he calls the land by his own name, that it may never be forgotten that such a worm as he once crawled over that portion of the earth”.

 Great Kings and Queens of the past have sought to do all sorts of things to guarantee the continuation of their family name, wealth and power but eventually they all fail. Jesus told a parable of a foolish rich man in Luke 12: 16 – 21 and the words of verses 18 – 21 are particularly applicable to this verse in Psalm 49,

“Then he said, ‘this is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘you fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

The Refrain or Chorus:

  1. They will not endure and are no better off than animals (vs.12)

Point nine appears in verse 12, which is the first use of the refrain or chorus. A refrain or Chorus usually contains a summary of what the verse or verses have been trying to say and this refrain is no exception. It reads,

“But man despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish”.

 This son of Korah has sought to present why he should not ultimately fear evil rich people who are giving him a hard time. He sees the reality of death as the great leveller of rich and poor alike. He sees the worthlessness of great wealth in the face of death and how rich evil men will die and when they do they will not endure and are no better off than an animal who perish when they die.

Jesus made it clear who we should fear in Matthew 10: 28,

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”.

This son of Korah does have a sure hope in the face of death and this hope will appear in the next section in verse 14b and verse 15.

He sees no hope for those who trust in riches or the wisdom of this world. He only sees destruction and despair for his rich deceived and tormenting enemies.

  1. THE FATE OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN MONEY AND RICHES CONTRASTED BY THOSE WHO TRUST IN GOD (13 – 20)

This Son of Korah has made it clear that death is the great leveler of everyone both rich and poor as all die and riches make no difference to deaths outcome for anyone. However we will see that there is a hope we can have in death but money and wealth have absolutely no part to play in this hope.

We will now look separately at the fate of the wealthy that do not trust in God and the fate of those who do not trust in wealth but who trust in God.

  1. THE FATE OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN MONEY AND NOT GOD

In verse 13 the writer makes it clear whom he is speaking of,

“This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings”.

As I said at the beginning of this talk it is not only the rich who suffer from the love of money but even poor people can be trusting in themselves by seeking to get the money they feel they need to have a good life. Both those who have and those who want to have as their security in this life suffer the same fate, which the writer will now spell out.

We will now see that the fate of those who trust in money rather than God will involve five things:

  1. Their fate is to have death as their Shepherd
  2. Their fate is to suffer a role reversal in death
  3. Their fate is they will loose everything in death
  4. Their fate is to realize that in death they were not really blessed people
  5. Their fate is to join the vast number of people who will not see the light after death.

     1. Their fate is to have death as their Shepherd

This fate is now spelt out yet again in verse 14a,

“Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them.

These words are a telling poetic metaphor and Coffman makes it clear what this metaphor is saying,

“The figure here is that the wicked shall descend like a great flock of sheep into the nether world, where death shall be their shepherd”.

David said in Psalm 23 verse 1 that,

“The Lord is my shepherd”

 However for the person trusting not in wealth or human wisdom “Death is their Shepherd”. I have been to a number of non – Christian funerals over the years and the twenty third Psalm has sometimes been read out as a comfort but if there was no trust in the Lord during that person’s life and if there is not trust in God also in the lives of the hearers at the funeral than that Psalm is not a comfort but a disturbing reminder of what a non believer is missing out on.

  1. Their fate is to suffer a role reversal in death

 The second half of verse 14 has something to say about the fate of both those who trust in wealth and human wisdom and to those who trust in the Lord. It reads,

“The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions”.

 I will have more to say about the first part of this these words in the next section. Here I must say that this part of verse 14 is speaking of a great reversal of human standing in the next life.

The upright or true believers will be the rulers and the rich and powerful of this world will suffer the fate of being ruled over by those they sought to suppress in this life. Maybe that is what Jesus is hinting at in a verse like Matthew 20: 16,

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last”

 Even worse than this is the fate of those who trust in money or wealth other than God,

“Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions”.

 The reversal of living conditions is decay in a grave compared to an earthly mansion. Jesus made the point of this very clear when he said in Matthew 6: 19 – 21,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

3. Their fate is they will loose everything in death

 Verse 17 spells out clearly again the folly of trusting in earthly riches when it comes to death for it says,

“For he (the rich man) will take nothing with him when he dies, his spender will not descend with him”.

 This Son of Korah has already made this point in verse 10 where we read of how the rich have to leave their wealth to others. I made the point when I commented on this in the last section that Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6: 7,

“For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it”.

 I have seen or heard of from time to time how people in one generation scrimped and saved throughout their lives only to have their children blow all their money in foolish spending. As Christians we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the money or wealth God might give us listen to Paul’s advice on this in 2 Corinthians 9: 6 – 10,

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

 Now he who supplies seed to the sewer and bread for food will also supplies and increases your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God”.

4. Their fate is to realize in death that they were not really blessed people

Verse 18 makes it clear that those who live for riches and wealth in this life are living under the elusion of being people, who are really blessed in this life,

“Though while he lived he counted himself blessed – and men praise you when you prosper”

This is so true in our non Christian world many people praise the rich and powerful and often give them more because either they want to get them on their side to help them achieve or because they simply love these peoples achievements in this life.

However as Jesus says in Mark 8: 36 – 37,

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul”?

No to loose your soul because of trusting riches instead of trusting in God is not to be blessed but cursed. Such is the fate of those who trust in anything other than God.

5. Their fate is to join the vast number of people who will not see the light after death

The idea of those who trust in wealth and not God in this life not being truly blessed is extended in verse 19,

“He will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life”.

Spurgeon paints a very dark picture of the fate of people, who trust in wealth rather than God with these words,

“Of all his treasures there remains not enough to furnish him one poor candle; the blaze of his glory is out forever, and not a spark remains to cheer him. How then can we look with fear or envy upon a wretch doomed to such unhappiness”?

This seems to be an Old Testament vision of hell and both Jesus and the New Testament had much to say about the terror of hell. It speaks of both a place of darkness and of fire and torment. Jesus spoke to religious Jews of his day about what it really means to have faith when he saw great faith in a Gentile soldier in Matthew 8 and he makes this startling comparison of fates for those with real faith and those without real faith in verses 10 – 12,

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

2. THE FATE OF THOSE WHO TRULY TRUST IN GOD

 We will now see the amazing contrast to the fate of those who trust in money and not God and those who truly trust in God alone. The people who trust in God alone are called in verse 14 as the upright or those who live the right way. Thomas Watson says this about the concept of the upright man,

“This word upright signifies a man approved. The upright man is one whom God thinks highly of. Better have God’s approbation, than the world’s acclamation. The plainer the diamond is—the richer; the more plain the heart is—the more it shines in God’s eyes            “.

 Gaining God’s uprightness can only come through faith in him as Habakkuk 2: 4 says,

“See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous will live by his faith”.

We will now see that the fate of those who trust in God (the upright) will involve three things:

  1. Their fate is to rule over the faithless
  2. Their fate is to be redeemed from the grave by God
  3. Their fate is to be taken to God after death
  1. Their fate is to rule over the faithless

 This incredible contrast starts in the second half of verse 14, which reads,

“The upright will rule over them in the morning”.

 This is an amazing statement to find in the Old Testament as it obviously looks forward to the great Day of Judgment, which is likened to the time of the sun coming up in the morning. We know very clearly from the New Testament that this Day of Judgment for the whole world will come when Jesus returns the second time. This spoken about in passages like Revelation 1: 7,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pieced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him”.

 And Romans 14: 10 – 11,

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat? It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

 However others New Testament verses speak of true believers in Christ reigning with Christ, like 2 Timothy 2: 12,

“If we endure we will also reign with him”

 And Revelation 20: 4,

“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years”.

 So even back in the time of writing Psalm 49 the fate of the true believer is to reign over those who did not truly believe in God and who trusted in something else.

  1. Their fate is to be redeemed from the grave by God

Coffman says this about this remarkable verse,

“This is one of the mountains tops of Old Testament hope”.

It simply reads,

“But God will redeem my life from the grave”

 In the previous section we read in verse 8,

‘The ransom for life is costly, no payment is ever enough”

 When Jesus told his disciples how hard it is for a rich man to enter heaven in Luke 18: 24, those who heard him say this asked, “Who then can be saved”. Jesus answer appears in verse 27,

“What is impossible with men is possible with God”.

 God cannot be bought and no amount of money will change this however in this amazing verse we have the words,

“But God”

 I read the following quote on a Web. Page called “Moment with the Book”,

“When reading the Scriptures, one cannot help but notice the oft-repeated expression “But God…” These two words signal a change, a contrast, or a clarification is coming next. “But God.” What follows this significant transition is intended to challenge our faith and change our life. When He is brought into the picture, God makes all the difference”.

 Apparently the words, “But God”, appear 3930 times in the Bible and in Psalm 49 they are providing us with the greatest contrast between those who trust in money and wealth and not God and those who trust simply in God alone.

God alone can pay the ransom for our lives that sin requires and God pays this because he is a God of love. No other religion has this message of hope as no other religious faith presents God as a God of love like this.

The Jews knew that their relationship with God was on the basis of God’s love or Grace but Christians know this in its fullness and are assured of God’s payment for sin in the life and work of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Two verses make this very clear, John 3; 16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

 And

Mark 10: 45,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

  1. Their fate is to be taken to God after death

So the writer of Psalm 49 had a clear and certain hope of life beyond the grave simply expressed in the words,

“He (God) will surely take me to himself”

 Leupold says that these words could also be translated as,

“He will take me to himself”

 By the time of Christ the Jewish hope of life after death was expressed as being taken to be by Abraham’s side which Jesus picks up in his parable of the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus.

We read these words in Luke 16: 32,

“The time came when the beggar (Lazarus) died and the angels carried him to Abrahams side”.

 Abraham was very close to God and so to be at Abrahams side was to be in heaven with Abraham close to God. The fate of the rich man in Jesus parable is a complete contrast because we read in verses 22 and 23,

“The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side”.

 So we have in verse 15 this same amazing contrast between the fate of the unbelieving rich and those who trust simply in God. For the person who trust simply in God have their sin’s ransom paid by God and have a certain life with God beyond the grave but those who trust in money and riches and not God will be herded like sheep into the dark pit where death will feed on them.

The hope we enjoy as those who trust in Christ and what he has achieved for us in his death and resurrection is expressed beautifully by Paul in Philippians 1: 21 – 24,

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body”.

 CONCLUSION (The final refrain or chorus)

 We come then to the final verse of this amazing Psalm, which is the second use of a refrain or chorus that has a slight change of wording from what we read in verse 12 to aptly conclude both the second section of the Psalm, and the entire Psalm as well. It reads,

“A man who has riches without understanding is like the beast that perish”.

 Adam Clarke paraphrases this verse as,

“The rich and honourable man who has no spiritual understanding is a beast in the sight of God”.

 The second section of the Psalm contrasted the fate of the rich person who did not trust in God with the person who did not trust in wealth but who trusted in God. What made the difference between the two was their understanding of life and death. In the first section it seemed that people who trusted in money and wealth and not God thought that their money and wealth would make all the difference to God in death. The opposite was in fact the truth as money and wealth is useless in death because you cannot buy God and you cannot take your wealth with you when you die.

Therefore rich people who trust in their riches and not God are suffering from a false understanding of life and death and are no better off than animals who perish at death. Genesis 1: 26 says,

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

 So we can see from Genesis 1: 26 that humans are made by God to be special and different than the animals as we are made in the image of God and are to rule over all other animals.

Genesis 2: 7 says,

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”.

 This verse teaches that we are made differently than all other animals and have within us the breath of God, which has become known as a soul. God is Spirit and therefore Spiritual and we are a combination of both body and a soul making us a spiritual creature able to relate personally with God.

To be,

“Like the beasts that perish”

 Is a reversal of how God made us and is a terrible consequence of not trusting in him but trusting in money and riches instead.

This son of Korah opened his song with a word about how his song contained foresighted wisdom for everyone. He made it clear that some rich people used their riches to persecute him but he came to see that trusting riches in death was useless and futile. This means that in the long- term he should not fear rich Godless people as in the end they will be under those who trust in God. He concluded that the fate or destining of the rich is to be lost in death like sheep that are herded to destruction.

Finally he presented that in contrast to the death and destruction of those who trust in riches and not God the true believers are redeemed from the grave and will be taken to be with God forever.

This Psalm then contains great wisdom about the delusion of trusting in money and not God and also it contains great hope that we know is sure and wonderful through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Does money matter?

Yes indeed it does but not in the way this fallen world believes it does. A right attitude to money and riches are one of God’s great tests of whether we truly trust in Christ. In the words of Jesus himself we have the right attitude to money and riches we should have in Matthew 6: 33,

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.

 I close as usual with the words of a poem and a prayer. My poem is based on Psalm 49 and the words of Christ in Matthew 6: 33,

 SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 

 

I sing this song to everyone

It contains wise words for life

About how God wants us to live

And avoid death great strife.

 

 

Why should I fear my enemies?

Who seek to pull me down.

They put their trust in their wealth

But I am heaven bound.

 

Chorus:

 

Seek first the Kingdom of God

For riches cannot pay

For all the sins we have done

That holds us in deaths sway.

Seek first the Kingdom of God

For Jesus made the way

By dying for our sins for us

And helping us each day.

 

 

No man can pay the price of sin

Great wealth is not enough

You cannot buy immortality

We all decay to dust

 

 

The wisdom of this world tells us

That wealth will bring success

But death comes to every man

So look to God to bless.

 

Chorus:

 

Seek first the Kingdom of God

For riches cannot pay

For all the sins we have done

That holds us in deaths sway.

Seek first the Kingdom of God

For Jesus made the way

By dying for our sins for us

And helping us each day.

 

 

The fate of those who trust in wealth

Is that in death they’ll find

That all the money in this world

Cannot release death’s bind.

 

 

What mankind just cannot do

God has done for us

For Jesus paid the price of sin

And all God wants is trust.

 

Chorus:

 

Seek first the Kingdom of God

For riches cannot pay

For all the sins we have done

That holds us in deaths sway.

Seek first the Kingdom of God

For Jesus made the way

By dying for our sins for us

And helping us each day.

 

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER :

 Dear father in heaven I want to thank you for sending Jesus to this world to die for my sins on the cross. I know that I cannot save myself and no amount of money is enough to buy my eternal destiny. But because of your great love you have paid it for me. Help me then not to be caught up in the trap of seeking to live for money. May I always seek first your Kingdom knowing that your promise is that if I do you will help provide my every daily need. In Jesus great and powerful name I pray this Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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