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49. Psalm 49

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

2Both low and high, rich and poor, together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11Their 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.

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

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

14Like 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 And man shall not abide in honor Having exposed the vain and delusory nature of the fancies entertained by the ungodly, he next shows that however fondly they may cherish them, they must experience the same fate with the beasts of the field. It is true that there is a great difference, so far as the soul is concerned, between man and the brute creation; but the Psalmist speaks of things as they appear in this world, and in this respect he was warranted to say of the ungodly that they die as the beasts. His subject does not lead him to speak of the world to come. He is reasoning with the children of this world, who have no respect to another, and no idea of a farther happiness than that which they enjoy here. He accordingly ridicules their folly in conceiving of themselves as privileged with exemption from the ordinary lot of humanity, and warns them that death will soon be near to humble their presumptuous thoughts, and put them on a level with the meanest of the lower creatures. This I prefer to the more ingenious interpretation which some would put upon the words, that they reduced themselves to the level of beasts by not recognising the true dignity of their nature, which consists in the possession of a never-dying soul. The Psalmist’s great aim is to show the vanity of the boasting of the wicked, from the nearness of death, which must join them in one common fate with the beasts of the field. The last word in the verse gives the reason why the ungodly may be compared to the beasts — they perish It matters little whether or not we consider the relative אשר, asher, as understood, and read, that perish


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