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There are two voices always speaking in man, and attempting to govern all other influences in his soul despondency and aspiration. The text points to two principles. (1) There is the bowing before, and hearkening to, the mystery of things, the universal, parabolic utterances; and (2) the turning the mystery and the parable into a cheerful song, the dark saying becoming, like the bird's song in the covert of the night, a clear stream without sorrow and without care.
I. All Scripture itself is a dark saying on a harp. There is a Divine reticence in the Bible; there is an awful secretiveness. As the voices of music lift us to worlds beyond themselves, so, in an eminent sense, it is with Scripture. It is a manifold unity, like the universe in which we live; nor have we any difficulty in finding how what is suggested and what is revealed are alike a dark saying on the harp.
II. Man himself is a dark saying on a harp. He is himself a universe of being in which life, and nature, and grace seek to combine in music. Man's soul is written all over with dark sayings. "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me," said the Apostle. Then the handwriting flames round the chambers of the soul; until then the magnificent works of genius are aberrations and insanities; then the harp utters the word of light, and the dark saying on the soul flies before its tone.
III. Providence is a dark saying on a harp. The mysteries of Providence were as startling to David as they are to us, and this very Psalm recites and records them; it did not seem to be a world of highways to the Psalmist, and this is one of the great causes of grief and of the dark sayings the world and its sorrows. For the people of God the hour shall come when all dark sayings shall melt on the harp, and life shall no longer represent the burden, but only the bliss, of being.
E. Paxton Hood, Dark Sayings on a Harp, p. 1.
These words ought to teach us: (1) that we cannot save other people, however much we may wish to do so, and (2) that other people cannot save us, no matter how great a desire they may feel of doing so. But though we cannot save or, as the text says, redeem our brother, by which we mean anybody, yet there is something we can do: we can try to bring him to One who can save him. Having come to Jesus yourself, the next thing is to try to bring all you can to Him.
I. What the text teaches is that religion must be personal. Every man and woman, every boy and girl, who wishes to be saved must be saved by his own or her own faith and love in the Lord Jesus. Each must himself love Christ; each must believe in Christ; each must serve Christ.
II. Religion must not be mere imitation. It is a thing to have in the heart. When you pray, you must pray with the heart, and not merely with the lips; when you read God's word, it must be from a wish to learn God's will, in order to please and obey Him.
III. No man can redeem himself; our redemption has been worked, and a ransom given for us. Christ laid down His precious life for us, and God has accepted the atonement on condition that we accept it also. Though you may sometimes feel downcast and fear you may fall, yet you will find that the blessed Redeemer will not allow those whom He has "purchased with His own blood" to be wrenched from Him. "Ye are Christ's," and Christ is the safety of the Christian.
G. Litting, Thirty Children's Sermons, p. 182.
References: Psalms 49:7 . T. K. Cheyne, Expositor, 3rd series, vol. ii., p. 400. Psalms 49:8 . G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 22.
Sadly as this announcement may present itself to us at the first, writing vanity on so many of the toils, and hopes, and accumulations of men, yet, looked at a little closer, it is not so sad as it appears.
I. For, in the first place, that a man shall carry away nothing with him when he dieth is true only of his earthly goods, which are therefore not goods in the highest and truest sense of the word. Here then is a thought of encouragement, of strong consolation: that it is only the meaner things of earth which lie under the bondage of corruption, on which the sentence of vanity is written, which refuse to accompany their owners on that long last journey which, one day or other, every man must make.
II. Even in regard of earthly things, while it is quite true that a man can carry nothing of them away with him when he dies, he may send much of them before him while he lives. The Apostle Paul declares no less when, urging those who are rich that they be glad to distribute, he proposes this as a motive, that they will be thus "laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come." God is not unrighteous, to forget the least of these things that are wrought for His name's sake.
R. C. Trench, Sermons in Westminster Abbey, p. 364.
References: Psalms 49:0 Expositor, 1st series, vol. x., p. 466. 1. 1-6. Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xix., p. 276. 1. 5, 6. G. Calthrop, Temptation of Christ, p. 311.Psalms 50:11 . H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Children's Bread, p. 95. 1. 12. D. G. Watt, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 292.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 49". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25