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Psalm 49

The Folly of Trust in Riches

To the leader. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.


Hear this, all you peoples;

give ear, all inhabitants of the world,


both low and high,

rich and poor together.


My mouth shall speak wisdom;

the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.


I will incline my ear to a proverb;

I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.



Why should I fear in times of trouble,

when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,


those who trust in their wealth

and boast of the abundance of their riches?


Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,

there is no price one can give to God for it.


For the ransom of life is costly,

and can never suffice,


that one should live on forever

and never see the grave.



When we look at the wise, they die;

fool and dolt perish together

and leave their wealth to others.


Their graves are their homes forever,

their dwelling places to all generations,

though they named lands their own.


Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;

they are like the animals that perish.



Such is the fate of the foolhardy,

the end of those who are pleased with their lot. Selah


Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;

Death shall be their shepherd;

straight to the grave they descend,

and their form shall waste away;

Sheol shall be their home.


But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,

for he will receive me. Selah



Do not be afraid when some become rich,

when the wealth of their houses increases.


For when they die they will carry nothing away;

their wealth will not go down after them.


Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy

—for you are praised when you do well for yourself—


they will go to the company of their ancestors,

who will never again see the light.


Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;

they are like the animals that perish.

18 For he will bless his soul in his lifetime Various meanings have been attached to this verse. Some read, He ought to have blessed his soul during his life Others apply the first clause of the verse to the wicked, while they refer the second to believers, who are in the habit of praising God for all his benefits. Others understand the whole verse as descriptive of believers, but without sufficient ground. There can be little doubt that the reference is to the children of the world. In the first part of the verse it is said that they bless their own soul 233233     That is, themselves. — See note, p. 252. so long as they live on earth, by which is meant, that they indulge and pamper themselves with earthly pleasures, giving way to the excesses of brutish intemperance, like the rich man, of whom Christ spoke in the parable, who said,

“Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry,” — (Luke 12:19)

or that they seek their happiness entirely from this world, without cherishing a desire for the life that is to come. Some translate the Hebrew verb, he will do good, and read thus, He will do good to his own soul in his lifetime. But I conceive the phrase to be synonymous in its import with that which is employed by Moses,

“And it come to pass, that he bless himself in his heart;”
(Deuteronomy 29:19,)

that is, flatter himself as if he might despise God with impunity. The inspired penman here represents the stupidity of such as please themselves with a fallacious dream of happiness. In the latter part of the verse the person is changed, and the votary of pleasure is apostrophised; 234234     “There is here a change,” says Walford, “from the oblique to the direct form of speech, by which the writer turns himself to the rich man, who prospers in the world, and says to him, Though you now count yourself happy, and meet with applause from persons of a character resembling your own, yet you shall go to the abode of your fathers, who will never behold the light.” He reads the 19th verse, “Thou shalt go to the abode of thy fathers, who will never behold the light.” the prophet insinuating, by the words he uses, that the preposterous pride with which the wicked are inflamed is in part the consequence of the delusive applause of the world, which pronounces them to be happy, and echoes their praises even when they gratify their most unlicensed passions.

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