Blog on Psalm 49 - by Rev. Susan Salo
INTRODUCTION: This Psalm contrasts the fate between the ultimate destiny of the wealthy who trust in themselves, and those whose trust is in the Lord.
OBSERVATION: The key verse in this Psalm comes near the beginning, verses 5 - 6, "Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me - those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?"
The rest of the Psalm explains that although the rich have power and influence now, when they die, it will all come to nothing. They will suffer the same fate as those they now despise, because they trust in themselves (always a mistake in the Biblical narrative) and in their followers who approve their sayings (V.13).
This is the opposite of the fate of the wise, who get understanding. Wisdom and understanding are more to be valued than gold (Psalm119), and real wealth is in the fear of the Lord (Prov, 9.10). The "upright" ( v.14b) will prevail, God will redeem them from the realm of the dead. The upright are warned against envying the rich (v.16) who will never again see the light of life (v.19b).
This is summed up in the final verse, "People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish."
APPLICATION: Today, for those of us who have gained understanding, Verses 5-9 direct us to Jesus with the statement, "No one can redeem the life of another or give God a ransome for them - the ransome for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough - so that they should live on forever and not see decay." We know that God gave his only begotten Son, Jesus, as a ransome for all who believe in him, so that we can have eternal life. The pearl beyond price, the crown of life, is for those who believe in him. Thanks be to God.
PRAYER: Lord, it is so easy to envy those who have wealth and privilege. Their lives look so easy on the outside. Envy is such a waste of time and blinds us to the blessings of every day life, even as we struggle. Thank you for the reminder that to trust in you is more than enough, and that we have a glorious future ahead, even as death beckons, life with you awaits. Amen.
Song: "Living Hope" by Phil Wickham
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.