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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 49



Verses 1-20

There is little to fix the date of this Ps. The writer moralises, in the fashion of the book of Proverbs, on the vanity of wealth and honour apart from understanding. The rich man cannot deliver his friends or himself from death, and his prosperity need cause no dismay to those who are less fortunate in this world. The upright, among whom the Psalmist counts himself, will be received by God, and thus made superior to the power of death. Psalms 49:12, Psalms 49:20 form, by their similarity, a kind of refrain.

1. People] RV 'peoples,' explained by inhabitants of the world.

4. Parable.. dark saying] We might render, 'proverb.. riddle': see Psalms 78:2; Proverbs 1:6.

5. When the iniquity of my heels, etc.] RV 'When iniquity at my heels,' etc. RM gives a still better sense, connecting Proverbs 1:5-6, 'When the iniquity of them that would supplant me compasseth me about, even of them that trust,'etPsalm 7. See Exodus 21:30 (RV).

Redeem.. ransom] Life that is forfeit to man may be bought back with money, but not life that is claimed by God.

8. This v. is a parenthesis, interrupting the connexion between Psalms 49:7, Psalms 49:9, Is precious, and it ceaseth] RV 'is costly, and must be let alone.'

10. Leave their wealth to others] losing it for themselves.

11. LXX and other versions imply a slight change of reading which gives a better sense: 'Graves are their houses for ever, the dwelling-places for all generations of those who called their lands after their own name.'

12. Being in honour abideth not] RV 'abideth not in honour.'

13. Their posterity] RV 'after them men.' Approve, etc.] persist in the same foolish view of life.

14. Like sheep, etc.] RV 'They are appointed as a flock for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd'—a grim and forcible figure.

In the morning] when God's day of reckoning dawns. Shall consume, etc.] RV 'shall be for Sheol to consume, that there be no habitation for it.'

15. The grave] RV 'Sheol.' The hope expressed is not necessarily that of a definite resurrection after death, but may be that of deliverance from the premature ending of life in this world. But the words he shall receive me show that what the Psalmist values most is life with God as opposed to life without God, and this thought is the germ of the Christian doctrine of immortality: see on Psalms 16:10, Psalms 16:11.

18. Blessed his soul] congratulated himself on his wealth: cp. Luke 12:19.

19. They shall never see light] shall abide for ever in the darkness of Sheol.

20. And understandeth not] Those who perish like the beasts are not the rich as such, but the rich who do not know God.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 49:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

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Thursday, December 3rd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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