Tuesday, May 03, 2022

2022.05.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 49

Read Psalm 49

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom is the Psalm addressed? For (of) whom is it written? With what command does Psalm 49:1 begin? Who are to do this (Psalm 49:1-2)? Upon what are the Psalmist’s mouth, heart, ear, and harp collaborating in Psalm 49:3-4? What does Psalm 49:5 ask about what situation? By what are we tempted to resist fear (Psalm 49:6)? But what should we most fear, and why does the approach in verse 6 fail (Psalm 49:7)? What sorts of people die (Psalm 49:10)? But what do fools think/do anyway (Psalm 49:11)? And what will happen to them (Psalm 49:12-13a)? And whom else (verse 13b)? Who come out on top (Psalm 49:14)? How (Psalm 49:15)? So, what shouldn’t we do (Psalm 49:16)? Why not (Psalm 49:17)? What do they and others do (Psalm 49:18)? But what will happen to him anyway (Psalm 49:19-20)?

This Psalm moves from “why should I fear” in Psalm 49:5 to “do not be afraid” in Psalm 49:16. The primary reason for both is: death and eternity make all the difference.

Death and eternity come to all, Psalm 49:1-10 . This is such an “inclusive” Psalm! It’s for all of the peoples/inhabitants of the world (Psalm 49:1). It’s for both the low and the high (Psalm 49:2a). It’s for both the rich and the poor (verse 2b). It’s for both the wise and the foolish (Psalm 49:10a–b).

Therefore, all need wisdom, Psalm 49:3-4. How foolish one will think himself if he lives this life as if it is an end in itself! And yet so many are no better off in death than beasts (Psalm 49:12b, Psalm 49:14a, Psalm 49:20b). They think little about what they leave behind for posterity (Psalm 49:12a), or what will come of them in eternity.

This is especially a danger to the rich, Psalm 49:6-13. They are prone to false security (Psalm 49:6a, they “trust in their wealth”), false satisfaction (verse 6b, they “boast in the multitude of their riches”; and Psalm 49:18 “he blesses himself” and others praise him too), and false feelings of ownership (Psalm 49:10, they “leave their wealth to others”) and permanence (Psalm 49:11). Their “inner thought is that their houses will last forever.” Their investment is in this world, as if some enemy will not come destroy all they leave behind, or some fool among their progeny dissipate it all once. They “call lands their own names.” As if ten thousand years hence there won’t be others who have laid higher claim—if anyone even remembers them and their name and their claim at all.

None of the wealthy’s illusory advantages solve death; the grave will burst their bubble. That seems pretty obvious: all men die. But the problem is more than mortality; the problem is guilt and vengeance. God is the One who requires death (Psalm 49:7), which means that it is not just the body that is at stake but the soul (Psalm 49:8). Can the wealth of the wealthy be of any avail against God? Certainly, some wealthy feel their need/danger and lay out much earthly goods to atone for themselves. “Their redemption is costly… that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the pit.” But even if they never run out of money, they eventually run out of time, and find that they still haven’t done anything that can atone for them with God.

But what money has no power to do, Almighty God does by His mercy, Psalm 49:14-15. How is it that though all are laid down in the grave (verse 14a), the upright will rule over the wicked (even and especially the wealthy wicked) in the morning (verse 14c)? Because God has determined to take them for Himself (Psalm 49:5b), which means that the grave cannot ultimately hold them (verse 15a). 

Therefore, believers ought to watch against acting like fools about the foolsPsalm 49:16-20. This Psalm has been reminding us that the wealthy are utterly foolish to be impressed with themselves. But, if we fear the wealthy and ‘powerful’ in this life, then aren’t we participating in the same sort of folly as theirs? Doesn’t fearing them give them the credit in our hearts that they give themselves in their own? Don’t fear when one becomes rich and the glory of his house is increased (Psalm 49:16). He is going to die, and he will have neither wealth nor glory then (Psalm 49:17). This portion of the Psalm covers much of the same ground as before, but this time the target is not the boastful wealthy but the fearing godly. Do not fear them!

To which of the dangers of the rich are you especially prone? What mere men are you tempted to fear or fret over? What has God done to solve “the death problem”? How do you know that it has solved your own death?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are from everlasting, to everlasting. But we are like the grass that is here today and gone tomorrow. Indeed, the wages of our sin is death, and there is nothing we can do to pay You off for it. But You have atoned for us, in order to receive us to Yourself. So we bless Your Name and ask that as we worship You, You would stir up our fear of You, so that we would have no fear of those who can kill only the body. By Your Spirit, make us to know Your glory and Your grace in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP49A “Hear This, All Earth’s Nations” or TPH49 “Hear This, All You Peoples”


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