Psalm Chapter 49:13-20

Psalm Chapter 49:13-20  (Unless otherwise cited this devotional is from the King James Version-Psalms 49 mainly because it is public domain.) But read this Psalm in the NIV for clarity of the Genre.)

Context – reiterated.

Psalm 49 is considered by many to be a wisdom psalm because it embodies many features of wisdom literature. Most importantly the psalmist addressed a question that people have asked throughout the ages. Why do the wicked people seem to prosper and the righteous appear to be in need? The psalmist iterated that the ungodly rich person does come to an unpleasant end. The statement that is a repeated refrain is evident in verses 12 and 20. Psalm 49 has several parts. Today we will look at verses 13-20 to the Psalm! 

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

Theologians believe that this verse is talking about a wealthy father and his son. It is crucial that we comprehend that being rich is not the issue in this psalm. The psalm is addressing reliance on riches on providing you with the type of happiness and contentment that comes from God. Cayce argues that the father and the son both die in their “folly” (Cayce 2018, Psalm 49:13). Longman offers further insight into the importance of the concepts embedded in this Psalm. 

Most of this stanza drives home the lesson that the riches of the wicked will not save them from death. They trust themselves (not God), so rather than God as their shepherd guiding them through life, personified death will lead them. God leads his sheep through ‘the darkest valley’ (including death; Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” ); death leads its sheep to the slaughter and ultimately to Sheol, the underworld. 

Glimpses of the afterlife are rare in the Old Testament, but the psalmist here certainly affirms that, in the case of the upright, and specifically himself, death will not have the ultimate say. While no-one (wise or foolish) can pay a ransom for their life or the life of another, God can pay that ransom ( God will redeem me ) and free a person from the realm of the dead. The psalmist’s perspective here is reflected by the sage in Proverbs 11:4: ‘Riches do not profit on the day of fury, but righteousness will extricate from death.’ 13. 12. By amending ‘brother’ ( ’ā ḥ ) to ‘surely’ ( ’ak ), the reb renders: ‘Alas! (Longman 2014, 215).

This is a sticky subject. We do not want to understand that throwing money at people will not change their mindset. Giving money to support the gospel is one thing. Giving it to make one feel good about themselves is another thing all together.

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

In this verse, the psalmist tells the reader about his confidence in God and His promises of life eternal for His people. It is a rare thing to read about the afterlife in the Old Testament. The people did not know about the Messiah dying for the remission of their sins. It is apparent that God revealed His plans for humanity to the writer of this Psalm. The New Testament tells us that believers in Christ will be resurrected.  Not only will they be resurrected, but they will reign with Him in His kingdom.

A Brief Commentary on the Apocalypse — Sylvester Bliss

  • Revelation 20:4-5  “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
  • Bliss stated  “Thrones” are symbols of power. As the saints are to reign with Christ on the renewed earth, in obedience to the invitation: “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,”
  • Matthew 25:34 [Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”]; Bliss continued “their being inducted into the kingdom is symbolized by their being seated on thrones.”
  • Revelation 5:9 The saints sing a “new song,” to Christ: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Death and hell has no power over the saints of God.
  • Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
  • Revelation 20:6 “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Please understand that the psalmist is not saying that all “rich” people are ungodly. However, it is common for the rich to rely on their wealth as their source of strength. 

16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; 17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. 18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself. 19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. 

It is interesting that the psalmist makes this statement because Jesus told a parable about this very thing.

Luke 12:  15- 21 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

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

Note that verse 20 clarifies the conditions that make a rich man a foolish man who dies like an animal without any hope. However, scripture talks about the hope of true believers.

  • Gen. 5:24 “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”
  • 2 Kings 2:10 “And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.” Elijah disappears from the earth and is never seen again.
  • Psalm 73:24 “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” David, one of the wealthiest kings on earth, during his time, speaks about where he is going after he dies. David is not talking about having a long life here on earth. He is talking about a life forever with God. He is not concerned about the fact that the ungodly rich will die because he knows that they take nothing with them when they do die, and they do nowhere after they die.
  • Heb. 11:5 “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” How do we explain these scriptures? We live by faith and faith alone. One cannot use the scientific method to explain the richness of the mystery of God’s love for His children.

What is your hope after you die? Will you be a bride of the King of King and the Lord of Lord? Or, will you be one of those people to whom he says “Depart from me, I know you not!”



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