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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 49

Verses 1-20

  1. Intro:
    1. Prayer: In you may we enjoy a warm, secure relationship with you Jesus each day!
    2. Intro: Successful Roman generals were sometimes granted a “triumph.” They were permitted to parade their armies, with gangs of captives and wagons filled with loot, through the very streets of Rome. But in the chariot of the general, standing just behind him, was an officer whose duty it was to whisper constantly in his ear, “You are but a man.”
      1. ​​​​​​​Sic transit gloria mundi - Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world," more commonly interpreted as "Fame is fleeting."
      2. Traditionally, Papal coronations are thrice interrupted by a monk holding a pole to which is affixed a burning piece of flax. After it finishes burning, the monk announces, "Pater sancte, sic transit gloria mundi." This is meant to remind the Pope that, despite the grandeur of the ceremony and the long history of the office, he is a mortal man. (Wikipedia - Sic transit gloria mundi)
      3. Psalm 49 serves much the same purpose. It is God’s whisper in our ear, reminding us that no matter how much success we or others have, we are but men. All too soon we will die, and any worldly wealth or glory will pass away with us!
    3. Background: Book II of Psalms(see ch.42) - Most believe this 2nd collection of psalms was assembled during the time of Solomon.
      1. The sons of Korah - Korah rebelled during the Exodus and was killed (Num.16, earth opened & swallowed). But his children were spared.
      2. 1st branch of his descendants became temple guardians (1Chron 9:17); 2nd branch served as temple singers and musicians (6:31,33,39,44).
      3. These descendants of Korah contributed 7 works to the 2nd Book of Psalms (ch.42-47).
      4. Overview - The sons of Korah probed deeply, to help us examine: love for God (Ps.42); divine vindication (Ps.43); the mystery of national defeat (Ps.44); messianic truth (Ps.45); “God with us” is exalted as our fortress (Ps.46); Then the last 3 psalms celebrate God’s rule (Ps.47), His eternal city (Ps.48), and redemption from this transient world (Ps.49).
  2. INTRO! (1-4)
    1. ​​​​​​​(2) Rich or poor this psalms for you. Because it deals w/2 important topics death & money.
    2. (3,4) True method of instruction.
      1. Application to self, before he attempts to communicate it.
        1. Speak, meditate, listen, riddle on the harp (i.e. how prophets sometimes heard from God)
      2. Not human genius, but wisdom sought from above.
      3. I will incline my ear to a proverb – “all scripture is profitable for instruction.”
  3. FALSE SECURITY! (5-14; 16-20)
    1. ​​​​​​​(5) Why should I fear in the days of evil!!!
    2. Let’s check God’s track record with others that have gone before us:
      1. Enoch - God walked with him, & then took him home, before the floodwaters came.
      2. Noah – God shut him in with His own hand, so the flood wouldn’t touch him.
      3. Abraham – He assured Abraham that he was his shield & exceeding great reward. Protecting him from his enemies.
      4. Moses – He preserved Moses from the fury of Pharaoh & the murmurings of Israel.
      5. Elijah – Was hidden in the secret of His pavilion from the wrath of Ahab.
      6. Daniel – He sent his angels to shut the lions’ mouths that they might not hurt Daniel.
      7. Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednigo – “Were not the coals of the burning fiery furnace as sweet & soft as forest blades to the feet of the three young confessors.” (The Layman’s Bible Commentary; Arnold Rhodes; pg. 49)
      8. Arnold Rhodes (Layman’s Bible Comm), “I may be standing on the deck, whilst the ship is beset by icebergs & jagged rocks; the fog drapes everything, as the way slowly opens through the archipelago (ark-i-pel-igo; chain of islands) of peril: but God is at the helmwhy should I fear?
        1. Days of evil to others cannot be so to me, for the presence of God changes the evil to good.
      9. Why should I fear in the days of evil!!!
    3. (6-9) Don’t boast in wealth or trust in it.
      1. He explains why: Your wealth can’t prevent death; can’t go with you; nor buy permanent fame.
      2. Jesus summed up this chapter in Lk.12:15 “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
    4. No amount of money can save their souls.
      1. When Queen Elizabeth 1 was dying, she said, All my possessions for one moment of time.”
      2. Poem: Money will buy a bed; but not sleep; books but not brains; food but not appetite; finery but not beauty; a house but not a home; medicine but not health; luxuries but not culture; amusements but not happiness; religion but not salvation; a passport to everywhere …but heaven!
    5. Remember we are stewards of wealth, not owners!
      1. You may think you own your own home (or name any possession you have) but as soon as you die you will be separated from it forever. So is it really yours?
    6. (8) Redemption is costly – I’ll say!!!
      1. It cost the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!
    7. (10-15) Dead bodies of both men & beast turn into dust in the grave.
      1. And the rich are not exempt from this.
    8. (11) Their graves are their permanent homes(for the body) in spite of the fact that they leave their estates bearing their names.
      1. Our friends were telling Kel & I last night of a house they are working on that is 11,000 sq, & they only live in it 7 days a year.
    9. (12,20) The wealthy trust in their wealth but die anyway, just like animals (12, 20).
    10. (13,14) A contrast of the finally Helpless & the finally Victorious!
    11. (14) Former first lady “Lady Bird Johnson” died today at age 94.
      1. Death is talked about in scripture in some strange ways [this vs.]
      2. Death personified is an unusual poetic figure in the OT; this passage here ranks right up there with Jeremiah 9:21, where death climbs in at the window to carry off the living. (Read)
    12. Skip vs.15
    13. (16-20) A man can build a monument, but he cannot make men remember him!
      1. Absalom’s Pillar – In 2 Sam.18:18 it says, “Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up a pillar for himself, which is in the King’s Valley. For he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name. And to this day it is called Absalom’s Monument.”
      2. Today when you tour Israel you look down in the Kidron Valley & see a very large monument called “Absalom’s Pillar”. What’s humorous to me is…is that it is not! (was built 1st cent. ad, 1000 years after Absalom)
    14. (17) Jewish Proverb “There are no pockets in shrouds.”
      1. ​​​​​​​You can’t take it with you but you can send it ahead!
      2. You can use your money for God’s glory.
      3. When you do you’re investing it in eternity.
      4. (This is whether you make a few thousand a year or many thousands) “Make your wealth eternal by letting God direct your use of it.”
        1. ​​​​​​​Money is a powerful resource but remember…it is limited to this temporal world!
    15. Basically 2 warnings with wealth: [1] It can create a false security. [2] Beware of wasted opportunity.
    16. (19) They shall never see light – There is a certain horror about absolute darkness that throws a chill over the human soul.
      1. Man was made to live in the light.
      2. Jesus warned they shall be cast into outer darkness.
      3. One man was giving a tour of a cave in Kentucky when he turned out the lights. He told those touring that if you were lost in this cave you would become insane inside of a week from the oppressive loneliness & the maddening incessant drip of water from the roof!
        1. He said, “Be quiet & feel the darkness!”
  4. BLESSED ASSURANCE! (15)
    1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​He now draws our attention to another life…a higher life, to which the present life was only a preparatory.
    2. Here is the believer’s assurance of future resurrection.
      1. 1 Thes.4:13,14 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
    3. The grave has a power over the body, but the soul is preserved from going to the grave with the body.
      1. Our soul appears to “vanish” upon is separation from the body, is in reality only gathered to the bosom of God, there to be kept until the day of resurrection! (Calvin)
    4. God, instead of demanding a ransom as in vs.7, pays it Himself in vs.15.
      1. Atonement in view!
    5. This verse conquers death & makes life worth living.
      1. 1 Pet.1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you , who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
    6. Meaningful afterlife statements in the OT:
      1. Ps.16:10 (David) “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
      2. Ps.73:24 (Asaph) “You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory.”
      3. Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
      4. Dan 12:1,2 “…Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
      5. Is.26:19 “Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.”
    7. Illustration: Ever observe the difference between passengers who hold confirmed tickets and those who are on standby?
      1. The ones with confirmed tickets read newspapers, chat with their friends or sleep. The ones on standby hang around the ticket counter, pace and wait anxiously, wait anxiously and pace.
      2. Q: Which are you when it comes to the topic of eternity?
    8. Suppose you had a vision of an angel who told you your sins were forgiven, would that be enough assurance for you to rest on? (some would say yes!)
      1. But suppose on your deathbed Satan came and said, “I was that angel, transformed to deceive you.” What would you say then?
      2. God has given us something more dependable than the voice of an angel.
      3. 1 Jn.5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, You may know that you have eternal life.”
        1. Q: Is that not enough to rest on? – It’s a letter from heaven expressly written to everyone who believes!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Psalms 49". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/psalms-49.html. 2017.