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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.

16 Be not thou afraid The Psalmist repeats, in the form of an exhortation, the same sentiment which he had formerly expressed, that the children of God have no reason to dread the wealth and power of their enemies, or to envy their evanescent prosperity; and as the best preservative against despondency, he would have them to direct their eyes habitually to the end of life. The effect of such a contemplation will be at once to check any impatience we might be apt to feel under our short-lived miseries, and to raise our minds in holy contempt above the boasted but delusory grandeur of the wicked. That this may not impose upon our minds, the prophet recalls us to the consideration of the subject of death — that event which is immediately at hand, and which no sooner arrives than it strips them of their false glory, and consigns them to the tomb. So much is implied in the words, He shall not carry away all these things when he dieth 232232     “Heb. ‘take of all;’ that is, ought of all that he hath. ‘For we brought nothing into the world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out.’” — Ainsworth. Be their lives ever so illustrious in the eyes of their fellow-creatures, this glory is necessarily bounded by the present world. The same truth is further asserted in the succeeding clause of the verse, His glory shall not descend after him Infatuated men may strain every nerve, as if in defiance of the very laws of nature, to perpetuate their glory after death, but they never can escape the corruption and nakedness of the tomb; for, in the language of the poet Juvenal, -

Mots sola fatetur Quantula sint hominum corpuscula,” —

“It is death which forces us to confess how worthless the bodies of men are.”


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