Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.

15 But God will redeem my soul The Hebrew particle, אך, ach, may be also translated, surely, or certainly. The psalmist had made a general assertion of the great truth, that the righteous shall have dominion in the morning, and now he applies it to himself for the confirmation of his own faith. This verse may, therefore, be regarded as a kind of appendix to the former; in it he makes a personal application of what had been said of all the righteous. By the word, the hand, is to be understood the dominion and power, and not the stroke, of the grave, as some have rendered it. The prophet does not deny his liability to death; but he looks to God as He who would defend and redeem him from it. We have here a convincing proof of that faith in which the saints under the Law lived and died. It is evident that their views were directed to another and a higher life, to which the present was only preparatory. Had the prophet merely intended to intimate that he expected deliverance from some ordinary emergency, this would have been no more than what is frequently done by the children of the world, whom God often delivers from great dangers. But here it is evident that he hoped for a life beyond the grave, that he extended his glance beyond this sublunary sphere, and anticipated the morning which will introduce eternity. From this we may conclude, that the promises of the Law were spiritual, and that our fathers who embraced them were willing to confess themselves pilgrims upon earth, and sought an inheritance in heaven. It evinced gross stupidity in the Sadducees, educated as they were under the Law, to conceive of the soul as mortal. The man must be blind indeed who can find no mention of a future life in this passage. To what other interpretation can we wrest the preceding verse, when it speaks of a morning altogether new and peculiar? We are sufficiently accustomed to see the return of morning, but it points us to a day of an extraordinary kind, when God himself shall rise upon us as the sun, and surprise us with the discovery of his glory. When the Psalmist adds, Assuredly God will redeem my soul 230230     Soul is not here to be understood of the intellectual immaterial spirit. The Hebrew word נפשי, naphshi, my soul, is often put in the Old Testament Scriptures for the personal pronoun; and thus it means my person, myself, me. — See Appendix., Note on Psalm 16:10. from the power of the grave, does he not contemplate a special privilege, such as could not be shared by all other men? If deliverance from death, then, be a privilege peculiar to the children of God, it is evident that they are expectants of a better life. We must not overlook, (what I have already noticed,) that the sure method of profiting by the divine promises is, to apply to ourselves what God has offered generally to all without exception. This is done by the prophet, for how could he have arrived at an assured promise of the redemption of his soul, except by the general fact known to him of the future glory awaiting the children of God, and by concluding himself to be amongst their number? The last clause of the verse runs in the Hebrew literally, for he will take me up Some, however, resolve the causal particle כי, ki, which we render for, into the adverb of time when, and the verb לקח, lakach, which we translate to receive or to take up, they translate to cut off, or take away from this world, giving to the passage this sense, When God shall have called my soul out of this world to himself, he will rescue it from the power of the grave. I am afraid that this is rather too strained an interpretation. Those seem to take a juster view of the words who consider that the future tense has been substituted for the perfect, and who retain the proper signification of the causal particle, reading, for he has taken me up The prophet did not consider that the ground of his hope for a better resurrection was to be found in himself, but in the gratuitous adoption of God who had taken him into his favor. There is no need, however, why we should suppose a change of tense, and not understand the Psalmist as meaning that God would redeem his soul from death, by undertaking the guardianship of it when he came to die. The despairing fears which so many entertain when descending to the grave spring from the fact of their not commending their spirit to the preserving care of God. They do not consider it in the light of a precious deposit which will be safe in his protecting hands. Let our faith be established in the great truth, that our soul, though it appears to evanish upon its separation from the body, is in reality only gathered to the bosom of God, there to be kept until the day of the resurrection.


VIEWNAME is study