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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 49

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-20

Psalms 49:0

Theme Psalms 49:0 is placed within the second major section of the book of Psalms, a section that places emphasis upon indoctrination. The theme of this Psalm declares that man’s riches cannot redeem his soul from hell, and only God can redeem a soul from hell. The rich man is referred to in Psalms 49:2; Psalms 49:6; Psalms 49:10-12; Psalms 49:16-20; yet, riches are the confidence of fools. God offers man’s only hope of redemption through faith in Him, and under the new covenant redemption is offered through the sacrifice of His Son on Calvary.

Psalms 49:1-4 The Call to Assembly the People to Hear God’s Wisdom Psalms 49:1-4 begins with a call for God’s people to gather together to hear the decree. The atmosphere of a king setting upon his throne to speak wisdom embraces these opening verses.

Scripture References - The book of Psalms has similar introductory passages when God calls His people together to decree judgment upon them, as in Psalms 50:3-6; Psalms 78:1-2.

Psalms 50:3-6, “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.”

Psalms 78:1-2, (Maschil of Asaph.) “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:”

In Deuteronomy Moses also called heaven and earth to be his witnesses (Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 31:28; Deuteronomy 32:1-2) as he declares the Word of God to the children of Israel. Thus, Moses is declaring divine judgment which only God can decree. Moses is speaking in behalf of God and decreeing divine judgment upon Israel.

A number of verses throughout the book of Isaiah will reflect the motif of a judgment hearing assembled before God’s throne with heaven and earth as witnesses (Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 41:1; Isaiah 41:21; Isaiah 43:9-10; Isaiah 43:26; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 45:20-21; Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 48:14; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22).

Psalms 49:1 (To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.) Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:

Psalms 49:1 “A Psalm for the sons of Korah” Comments - Origen tells us the psalms that include the title “sons of Korah” in its opening verse were written by the sons of Korah, who worked together in the unity of the Spirit to produce it. He justifies this statement by quoting Psalms 44:1, which says, “O God, we have heard with our ears.”

“But if it be necessary also from the ancient Scriptures to bring forward the three who made a symphony on earth, so that the Word was in the midst of them making them one, attend to the superscription of the Psalms, as for example to that of the forty-first, which is as follows: ‘Unto the end, unto understanding, for the sons of Korah.’ For though there were three sons of Korah whose names we find in the Book of Exodus, Aser, which is, by interpretation, ‘instruction,’ and the second Elkana, which is translated, ‘possession of God,’ and the third Abiasaph, which in the Greek tongue might be rendered, ‘congregation of the father,’ yet the prophecies were not divided but were both spoken and written by one spirit, and one voice, and one soul, which wrought with true harmony, and the three speak as one, ‘As the heart panteth after the springs of the water, so panteth my soul alter thee, O God.’ But also they say in the plural in the forty-fourth Psalm, ‘O God, we have heard with our ears.’” ( Origen’s Commentary on Matthew 14:1) [71]

[71] Origen, Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, trans. Allan Menzies, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 9, ed. Allan Menzies (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, c1896, 1906), 495.

Psalms 49:5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

Psalms 49:5 Comments Every person faces “days of evil” (Ephesians 5:16). Paul refers to the evil day in his exhortation for believers to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13).

Ephesians 5:16, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Ephesians 6:13, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Psalms 49:6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

Psalms 49:6 Comments A man’s wealth consists of the accumulation of his physical strength, which proceeds from decisions he made through his mental well-being, his spirit driving him onward to fulfill a destiny that he does not always understand. Thus, man’s spirit, mind, and body are manifested into his physical wealth. For this reason, a man who does not trust in God has no alternative but to trust in his own efforts to redeem his soul from the sufferings of this life.

Psalms 49:7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:

Psalms 49:7 Comments Paul the apostle will explain that man’s efforts cannot redeem his soul, for it is by grace that we are saved. Paul writes, “ Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Psalms 49:8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)

Psalms 49:7-8 Comments - Psalms 49:7-8 say that the redemption of a man's soul is costly, price that man is unable to pay. However, and the psalmist will tell us that God will pay that cost, saying, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave.” (Psalms 49:15) He paid the cost by sending His own Son to die for our sins on Calvary.

Psalms 49:14 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.

Psalms 49:14 “and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning” Comments In this life, the rich rule over the poor; but in eternity the poor will be exalted and the rich made low (James 1:9-11). In the morning, when eternity rises and this age ceases, the upright will rule and reign upon the earth.

James 1:9-11, “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”

Psalms 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

Psalms 49:15 Word Study on “receive” Strong says the Hebrew word “receive” ( לָקַח ) (H3947). Is a primitive root that literally means, “to take.” This is the same Hebrew word used when God took Enoch (Genesis 5:24).

Genesis 5:24, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 49". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/psalms-49.html. 2013.
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