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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Psalms 49



Verses 1-3

Psalm 49:1-20. This Psalm instructs and consoles. It teaches that earthly advantages are not reliable for permanent happiness, and that, however prosperous worldly men may be for a time, their ultimate destiny is ruin, while the pious are safe in God‘s care.

All are called to hear what interests all.

world — literally, “duration of life,” the present time.

Verse 4

incline — to hear attentively (Psalm 17:6; Psalm 31:2).

parable — In Hebrew and Greek “parable” and “proverb” are translations of the same word. It denotes a comparison, or form of speech, which under one image includes many, and is expressive of a general truth capable of various illustrations. Hence it may be used for the illustration itself. For the former sense, “proverb” (that is, one word for several) is the usual English term, and for the latter, in which comparison is prominent, “parable” (that is, one thing laid by another). The distinction is not always observed, since here, and in Psalm 78:2; “proverb” would better express the style of the composition (compare also Proverbs 26:7, Proverbs 26:9; Habakkuk 2:6; John 16:25, John 16:29). Such forms of speech are often very figurative and also obscure (compare Matthew 13:12-15). Hence the use of the parallel word -

dark saying — or, “riddle” (compare Ezekiel 17:2).

open — is to explain.

upon the harp — the accompaniment for a lyric.

Verse 5

iniquity — or, “calamity” (Psalm 40:12).

of my heels — literally “my supplanters” (Genesis 27:36), or oppressors: “I am surrounded by the evils they inflict.”

Verse 6

They are vainglorious.

Verses 7-9

yet unable to save themselves or others.

Verse 8

it ceaseth for ever — that is, the ransom fails, the price is too precious, costly.

Verse 9

corruption — literally, “pit,” or, “grave,” thus showing that “soul” is used for “life” [Psalm 49:8 ].

Verse 10

For he seeth — that is, corruption; then follows the illustration.

wise … fool — (Psalm 14:1; Proverbs 1:32; Proverbs 10:1).

likewise — alike altogether - (Psalm 4:8) - die - all meet the same fate.

Verse 11

Still infatuated and flattered with hopes of perpetuity, they call their lands, or “celebrate their names on account of (their) lands.”

Verse 12

Contrasted with this vanity is their frailty. However honored, man

abideth not — literally, “lodgeth not,” remains not till morning, but suddenly perishes as (wild) beasts, whose lives are taken without warning.

Verse 13

Though their way is folly, others follow the same course of life.

Verse 14

Like sheep — (compare Psalm 49:12) unwittingly, they

are laid — or, “put,” etc.

death shall feed on — or, better, “shall rule”

them — as a shepherd (compare “feed,” Psalm 28:9, Margin).

have dominion over — or, “subdue”

them in the morning — suddenly, or in their turn.

their beauty — literally, “form” or shape.

shall consume — literally, “is for the consumption,” that is, of the grave.

from their dwelling — literally, “from their home (they go) to it,” that is, the grave.

Verse 15

The pious, delivered from “the power of the grave.”

power — literally, “the hand,” of death, are taken under God‘s care.

Verses 16-19

applies this instruction. Be not anxious (Psalm 37:1, etc.), since death cuts off the prosperous wicked whom you dread.

Verse 18
lived, etc. — literally, “For in his life he blessed his soul,” or, “himself” (Luke 12:19, Luke 16:25); yet (Psalm 49:19); he has had his portion.

men will praise … thyself — Flatterers enhance the rich fool‘s self-complacency; the form of address to him strengthens the emphasis of the sentiment.

Verse 20

(Compare Psalm 49:12). The folly is more distinctly expressed by “understandeth not,” substituted for “abideth not.”


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 49:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

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Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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