Ps 49:1-20. This Psalm instructs and consoles. It
teaches that earthly advantages are not reliable for permanent
happiness, and that, however prosperous worldly men may be for a time,
their ultimate destiny is ruin, while the pious are safe in God's
1-3. All are called to hear what interests
world—literally, "duration of life,"
the present time.
4. incline—to hear attentively (Ps 17:6;
parable—In Hebrew and
Greek "parable" and "proverb" are translations of the same word.
It denotes a comparison, or form of speech, which under one
image includes many, and is expressive of a general truth capable of
various illustrations. Hence it may be used for the illustration
itself. For the former sense, "proverb" (that is, one word for
several) is the usual English term, and for the latter, in which
comparison is prominent, "parable" (that is, one thing laid by
another). The distinction is not always observed, since here, and in
Ps 78:2; "proverb" would better express
the style of the composition (compare also Pr 26:7, 9; Hab 2:6; Joh 16:25, 29). Such forms of speech are often very
figurative and also obscure (compare Mt 13:12-15). Hence the use of the parallel
dark saying—or, "riddle" (compare
open—is to explain.
upon the harp—the accompaniment for a
5. iniquity—or, "calamity" (Ps 40:12).
of my heels—literally "my supplanters"
27:36), or oppressors: "I am
surrounded by the evils they inflict."
6. They are vainglorious.
7-9. yet unable to save themselves or
8. it ceaseth for ever—that is, the
ransom fails, the price is too precious, costly.
9. corruption—literally, "pit," or,
"grave," thus showing that "soul" is used for "life" [Ps 49:8].
10. For he seeth—that is, corruption;
then follows the illustration.
wise … fool—(Ps 14:1; Pr
likewise—alike altogether—(Ps 4:8)—die—all meet the same
11. Still infatuated and flattered with hopes
of perpetuity, they call their lands, or "celebrate their names on
account of (their) lands."
12. Contrasted with this vanity is their
frailty. However honored, man
abideth not—literally, "lodgeth not,"
remains not till morning, but suddenly perishes as (wild) beasts, whose
lives are taken without warning.
13. Though their way is folly, others follow
the same course of life.
14. Like sheep—(compare Ps 49:12) unwittingly, they
are laid—or, "put," &c.
death shall feed on—or, better, "shall
them—as a shepherd (compare "feed,"
Ps 28:9, Margin).
have dominion over—or, "subdue"
them in the morning—suddenly, or in
their beauty—literally, "form" or
shall consume—literally, "is for the
consumption," that is, of the grave.
from their dwelling—literally, "from
their home (they go) to it," that is, the grave.
15. The pious, delivered from "the power of
power—literally, "the hand," of death,
are taken under God's care.
16-19. applies this instruction. Be not
37:1, &c.), since death
cuts off the prosperous wicked whom you dread.
18. Though … lived,
&c.—literally, "For in his life he blessed his soul," or,
"himself" (Lu 12:19, 16:25); yet (Ps 49:19); he has had his portion.
men will praise …
thyself—Flatterers enhance the rich fool's self-complacency;
the form of address to him strengthens the emphasis of the
20. (Compare Ps 49:12). The folly is more distinctly
expressed by "understandeth not," substituted for "abideth not."