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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Psalms 49

 

 


Verses 1-20

Psalm 49

To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah

Hear this, all ye people;

Give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:

2 Both low and high,

Rich and poor, together.

3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom;

And the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

4 I will incline mine ear to a parable:

I will open my dark saying upon the harp.

5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil,

When the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

6 They that trust in their wealth,

And boast themselves in the multitude of their riches

7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother.

Nor give to God a ransom for him;

8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious,

And it ceaseth for ever:)

9 That he should still live for ever,

And not see corruption.

10 For he seeth that wise men die,

Likewise the fool and the brutish person perish,

And leave their wealth to others.

11 Their inward thought Isaiah, that their houses shall continue for ever,

And their dwelling-places to all generations;

They call their lands after their own names.

12 Nevertheless man being in honor abideth not:

He is like the beasts that perish.

13 This their way is their folly:

Yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.

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

15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave:

For he shall receive me. Selah.

16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich,

When the glory of his house is increased;

17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away:

His glory shall not descend after him.

18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul,

(And men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself,)

19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers;

They shall never see light.

20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not,

Is like the beasts that perish.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Contents and Exposition. The Psalmist in a solemn preface ( Psalm 49:1-4), addresses all persons without distinction of residence, race, or position in life. He calls upon them to attend to his voice—which is accompanied by his harp—because he means to teach them an important truth, salutary to all,—a truth, which he himself, a disciple of Wisdom of Solomon, has learned by Revelation, and has received into his heart. This Maschal discusses the problem of temporal happiness, and the prosperity of the ungodly, and is therefore related to Psalm 27, 73. The fundamental idea Isaiah, that the pious have no ground to fear under such circumstances in this transitory world, because the rich man cannot with all his gold purchase exemption from death, but by his vanity and folly becomes more and more like mere brutes that perish, while the just man by God’s grace is delivered from the power of the grave. This thought is expressed in two strophes, each of which terminates with a verse in almost the same words. In these strophes the relations of the thought and the parts of the verses are so artistically interwoven that in the first strophe the Psalmist testifies to his own fearlessness, and in the middle of the second exhorts others to be equally courageous, while in each of the two places there is a sort of conclusion marked by Selah. His language is terse, pithy, and sometimes rough. The phrases are pointed, now and then bold, and in some places obscure, while the structure of the sentences is peculiar, having here and there a kind of artistic intricacy. There are great difficulties in some passages of the present text, which are nearly unintelligible, owing probably, to mistakes of transcribers. If Song of Solomon, however, they must be very ancient, since the oldest translators were evidently perplexed by them, and propose very senseless explanations.

Psalm 49:1-4. Hear this.—A like solemn call occurs Deuteronomy 32:1; 1 Kings 22:28; Micah 1:2; Job 34:2. The “world “—Cheled—(see Psalm 17:1-4), is not heaven and earth or the world of space, but an existence—a something—which has its course in time. In Psalm 49:3, the gradation of the ideas of wisdom and understanding is expressed in the plural form, as is often done in the Proverbs of Solomon.—“I will open,” Psalm 49:4, refers not to the solution but the statement of the problem, since heart and mouth are opened. Psalm 109:30; Amos 8:5; Proverbs 26 Such a combination of problem and maxim we also find in Psalm 78:2; Proverbs 1:6.—Playing on the harp harmonizes with the soul’s vibrations, and the latter are both expressed and excited by it. 2 Kings 3:15.

[Perowne: The world; the term here used is that which indicates its temporary, fleeting character.—Alexander: The word translated world means primarily duration or continued existence; then more specifically, human life, the present state of things; and by a natural transition, the world as the place where it is spent.—Perowne. Wisdom,—Understanding. In the Heb. these words are plural, but apparently not so used with any intensification of meaning.—In the second clause of the verse, I have supplied the copula “ Isaiah,” for notwithstanding Hupfeld’s remark to the contrary, I cannot think it a natural construction, to repeat the verb from the first clause: “The meditation of my heart shall speak of understanding.”—J. F.].

Psalm 49:5. The iniquity of my heels (or my sup- planters, or of those who have trodden on me). This explanation of the phrase (Syriac and most others) suggests the meaning of “evil days—days of adversity,” i. e. not adverse times simply, but those in which bad men abuse their power and wealth (Geier and others). This explanation agrees best with the “ fear” mentioned in Psalm 49:5; Psalm 49:16. The rendering (Sept, Chald, Symm, Jeremiah, Rabb, and others), “guilt or sin of my heels,” is not only obscure (for what sin is meant), but ambiguous, for we would naturally think of his own sin, which does not accord with the meaning of the passage. At any rate “heels” cannot be taken for “steps “=missteps. If the “heels” be regarded as the object of the persecution and the waylaying (Calv, Hup, Ortenherg), the image used is unnatural, and many transpositions are necessary to bring out the sense,—when the iniquity upon my heels, i. e. on all sides, compass me about.

[Alexander: The iniquity of my oppressors (or supplanters). The word translated oppressors commonly means heels; but as this yields no good sense here, it may be taken as a verbal noun, meaning either traders, tramplers, oppressors or supplanters, traitors, in a sense akin to which the verbal root is used Genesis 27:36; Hosea 12:4. In either case, it is clearly a description of his enemies as practising fraud, or violence against him.—Perowne: When iniquity compasseth etc. Perhaps iniquity is supposed to be lying, like a serpent in his path, ready to fasten on the heel, as the most exposed and vulnerable part.—Barnes: The true idea Isaiah, when I am exposed to the crafts, the tricks of those who lie in wait for me; I am liable to be attacked suddenly, or to be taken at unawares; but what have Ito fear?—J. F.].

Psalm 49:7—10. His brother. Instead of אָהִיו (his brother) which is generally used when related to Isch, we have simply אָח as an accusative before the emphatic negative, which also precedes the infinitive absolute. The stress laid upon the impossibility of redeeming a brother (i. e. a fellow-man) from death, instead of himself, becomes the more remarkable, because we might expect his own redemption to be mentioned. This, however can hardly be deduced from the suffix at the close of the following line=his redemption (Hengsten.); or redemption for himself (Hitzig), although in the following verse we have the comprehensive plural “their souls.” It is not necessary to adopt the reading in some editions אַךְ, (Ewald, Olsh, Böttcher,) and by changing the points in the verb that follows, to make it reflective, =surely no one can redeem himself. Nor can אַח be taken as a nominative, and subject of the sentence. (Luther and others). The true idea here Isaiah, not simply the solidarity of all men Godward (Hupfeld), but rather the impossibility of redemption of any one by the mutual assistance, or the united efforts of men; and thus we are prepared for the subsequent declaration that God is the Redeemer.—Most critics take Psalm 49:8 as a parenthesis, but as this construction is harsh, it is better, not to strike it from the text, as a gloss, (Ortenberg), but to make Psalm 49:9 dependent on it (Kimchi, Flamin, Hengsten, Hupfeld), though the connection between them is somewhat loose. (Baur). The translation “because so precious is the ransom price of the soul, that it is wanting forevermore“ (Ewald, Köster, Maurer), is admissible, (but needless), since the perfect חדל has this sense Psalm 36:4, “he has desisted, ceased, removed himself.”—The idea that Psalm 49:9, is a premise “though he still continue to live forever” (Luther, Geier, Hitz.), and Psalm 49:10, a conclusion from it “he shall see,” cannot be reconciled with the strong expression of living forever.—Most interpreters take כִי ( Psalm 49:10), in a causative sense, as explaining why he ceaseth, i.e. because he sees that wise men die, (Isaki, Luther, J. H. Michaelis). Others take this verse as an antecedent (although he sees, etc.) to Psalm 49:11, (it is still their delusion to dream of an eternal home). But in direct discourse this particle renders the contrast more emphatic. (Flamin. De Wette, and most critics). It would be both violent and unnecessary to strike out the words “for he seeth” (Olshausen). There is nothing to indicate that they are the remains of a mutilated verse. They only stand in the way of the transposition of Psalm 49:9, before Psalm 49:8, and to the exposition “and he (man) ceases (to be) forever.”

[Alexander: Psalm 49:8. And costly is the ransom of their soul, etc. This obscure verse admits of several constructions. Their soul refers most probably to the rich man and his brother. The soul or life of both requires so much to ransom it, that neither can redeem the other. The verb in the last clause may mean ceases to live, perishes, and agrees with either or with each of the subjects previously mentioned. The ransom of their life is so costly, that neither can be saved. Or the verb may agree with ransom, as in the Eng. Bible; it is too costly to be paid, and therefore ceases, or remains unpaid, forever. The same sense substantially may be obtained by making cease mean cease (or fail) to pay, and construing it with one of the preceding nouns. The ransom is so costly that he fails to pay it, or ceases to attempt it forever. Upon any of these various suppositions, the essential idea is that the ransom of their life is too expensive to be paid.—Perowne: Soul, i.e. as is evident from the whole scope of the context here, “life.” It is much to be regretted that superficial readers of the Psalm so often give a totally false meaning to this and the preceding verse. The passage has been alleged to prove that our Lord, as the Redeemer of Prayer of Manasseh, must be God as well as man. The doctrine is most true, but it is not in the Psalm, nor is there the remotest allusion to it. All that is here taught Isaiah, that no wealth can save a man from death, because the life of men is not in their own hands, or in that of their fellows, but only in the hand of God, who cannot be bribed. There is a kind of solemn irony in the idea of the richest man offering all his riches to God, to escape death.—J. F.]

[This is an error. There is no such expression in the place named. The reference must be to Ecclesiastes 12:5, “the long home (or house).”—J. F.]. But the conjectural reading on which this exposition is based, is not sustained by a single MSS. Nor does the closing sentence read “they who were highly praised everywhere” (Ewald); nor “their names are celebrated in their lands,” (Rosen, De Wette, Hitzig), but “they proclaim their names throughout the lands” i.e. they call them after their names. (The Old Trans, Rabbins, Sachs, Böttcher, Hupfeld, Kurtz, Del.). For אדמה signifies the cultivated earth, arable land, and the subject must not be needlessly changed, while the formula “to proclaim or call the name” may be employed in various relations.—In Psalm 49:12, יָליִן should not be changed to יָבִין as in Psalm 49:20, (Sept, Syr, Cappel, Ewald), nor should it be substituted for the latter word in Psalm 49:20, (Ols.). Parallel verses are not always perfectly assonant; and here the change in a single consonant causes an ingenious play of words, (ohne Bestand, ohne Verstand),—without continuance, without intelligence. The special meaning “to continue for a night” (Aben Ezra, Stier, Hengsten.), may be proper in Psalm 30:6, but not here, where ליִן is equivalent to “abide“ as in Proverbs 21:23.

[Alexander: Their inward thought, etc. The plural form at the end of the sentence occurs nowhere else, but corresponds to our word grounds, when applied to cultivated lands.—A possible though not a probable construction makes the last two mean upon earth, the form of the Hebrew noun being assimilated to that of this particle before it.—J. F.]

Psalm 49:13. This their way, etc. There is no reason for transposing Psalm 49:13; Psalm 49:12 as Hupfeld suggests. We must not translate it “this their sentiment is their hope” (De Wette). “Way” here does not signify moral conduct, but the “way of faring” in the world, and this not in the sense of “faring well,” but of “faring ill.” Hence we must not render the verse “this their doing is their folly” (Aquil. Symm, Luth, Calv, and others; nor “becomes to them a folly,” i.e. a foolish security (Chald, Stier). The sense of “folly” has been derived from that of “assurance” ( Ecclesiastes 7:25); but here the original meaning must be adhered to, which is “a stubborn disposition” (Böttcher), manifesting itself by “boasting” (Hitzig), and turning out to be “folly.”—There is no contrast in the following verse, “and, notwithstanding they follow them” (Hengsten.); it is better to take it as simply a continuation of the attributive sentence (Del.)—In the more precise statement, it is not said what will happen to them after death (Ewald); nor to their descendants (Older Comment.); but what may happen to those who imitate them.

[Perowne: This their way. Both the meaning and construction of this clause are doubtful. It may mean (1) This their way (i.e. manner of life, course of conduct) is their folly: or (2) This their prosperous condition is (or becomes) their infatuation (blind confidence); for kesel may mean “a stupid security,” or “presumptuous confidence,” as well as “folly.” As regards the construction, it may be as above, or the clause may consist of two independent sentences. “This is their way; they have confidence;” or finally, the latter part of it may be a relative sentence: “This is the way of those who are foolish.”—J. F.].

Psalm 49:14-17. Like sheep, etc. This comparison indicates, on the one hand their want of will and incapacity to resist, and on the other hand, it suggests the idea that those who during their life-time have fed in rich pastures, are now driven into Sheol, like sheep into their fold at night, and have Death, the king of terrors ( Job 18:14), as their Shepherd, i.e. their keeper and master. (Geier, Isaki). The meaning is not that death gnaws them (Vulg, Luther and others), nor that he devours them as food. Job 18:13, (J. H. Michaelis, Geier).—In the promise that “the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning,” it is easy to discover a reference to the morning of the resurrection, and the universal reign of the saints in union with Messiah, (Isaki, Kimchi, Geier, Mendelsohn); but this is not presented as a positive dogma, nor as an express prediction (Older Expos.), but as the result of that indefinite presentiment of the future that marked Old Testament times (Stier);—as a parable ( Psalm 49:4), exhibiting not the last great day (Delitzsch), but the certain triumph of the righteous over the ungodly. This Isaiah, however, expressed in terms not only which are applicable to the last judgment so clearly revealed in the New Testament, but the whole passage has a typical significance. It Isaiah, as Ewald says, a glimpse of the Messianic hope.—By “morning,” (the word in the original occurs in a sentence connected by a vav consec.), we are to understand not the morning of the resurrection, which shall come to all men after the night of death, but the morning that dawns upon the upright after the destruction of the ungodly. It is the morning of the future illuminated by the light of God’s gracious countenance (Kurtz) and not limited in duration, during which they shall live by the power of God, while the wicked are put beneath their feet, and given over to death. The rendering “to tread” (instead of “have dominion”) i.e. upon their proud graves or corpses, needlessly weakens the statement, which, though figurative, conveys more than the simple contrast between the night of adversity and the morning of deliverance, especially if “morning” be taken to mean that which will “very soon” occur, and the expression be connected with the following verse (Ewald, Hitzig), which would give a better sense, though not in eonformity with the accents. According to the present textual structure of the verse, only a tolerable meaning can be got out of it, by a forced and artificial exposition.” Literally it would be, “for their form (beauty) is to be devoured by Sheol, out of the dwelling which is theirs,” i e, they shall have no more a dwelling. If this obscure passage be understood to mean that the form of the deceased is devoured by Sheol, thus making an end of its bodily beauty and earthly glory with their former dwelling, (the Older Trans. and Commen, and more recently Claus, Stier, Del.), not only may it be asked why so simple an idea should be expressed in a way so odd and obscure, but the doubt might arise from this single text of Scripture, whether the decomposition of the human body that takes place in the grave, is not transferred to Sheol. This doubt becomes the stronger, since the explanation that there is here a confusion of ideas about the grave, decomposition, and the shadow life in Sheol (De Wette, Hup.) cannot be admitted on the standpoint of these expositors. Strictly speaking the idea would better accord with the sense of the first half of the sentence, that the form of the dead, elsewhere represented as shadowy, will at last be delivered over in Sheol to complete consumption, i. e. annihilation (Hupfeld). But with this, the seeond part of the sentence does not agree, and the admission would hardly be satisfactory, if a strange and illogical construction (Kurz),—the assurance that in Sheol the well known receptacle of the dead, the form of the deceased is consumed—is followed by another statement that in consequence of this consumption the form had no longer a dwelling, while, on the contrary, Sheol holds no longer any occupants. But if we hold that there is here a contrast between the time when they fancied they were building houses to last forever, and that future period when they shall exist without property, without bodies, and therefore in empty space, the first half of the sentence must be understood to refer not to a consumption by, but of Sheol, i.e. its destruction. (Isaki, Hofmann). This passage however, is too weak a ground for such an idea, which is nowhere else found in the Old Testament. Equally pointless are the attempts to explain the passage, by giving to עוּר (Keri), the sense of “help” (Sept, Vulg.); “defiance” (Luther), or “rock.” By referring the word in its last named sense to Christ as the “rock” of the righteous, who will destroy the reign of Death by depriving him of his place of abode (De Dieu and others), they endeavor to get out of it a comforting eschatologic idea. If we make a slight change in the points and accents (and on the whole this seems to be the best solution) we get a simple and natural meaning, viz. that their form is wasting away, and that Sheol is their abode. (Ewald, Hitzig). For עִיר, Isaiah 45:16, or עוּרח=עוּר, Ezekiel 43:11, means “that which is made,” “the structure,” and בִּלָּה denotes the gradual but sure wasting of the body, Job 13:23. Instead of מִוְּבֻל, some Codices omit the Dagesch, and therefore lean to the explanation by the preposition מִן—. There is no allusion in Psalm 49:15, to God’s protection against an early death (De Wette, Kurtz); nor to his delivery from some great danger that imperilled life. (Hengs, Hitzig), although it is proper to regard the statement as contrasting the condition of the godly and the ungodly, and as affirming that redemption by man is impossible ( Psalm 49:7). The certainty of redemption by God, from the hand or the power of Sheol means deliverance from that dominion of Sheol to which all men are liable. (Calvin, Geier, J. H. Mich, Clauss, Stier, Hoffman). But it is not presented here as a truth of which they were then conscious, but rather as a glimpse and hope obtained by a bold flight of faith. Nor is there any definite indication of the ransom price, nor of the way and manner of this deliverance. Still there is an allusion to the “taking up” of Enoch, Genesis 5:24, and of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:3, in the use of the word לקח which, generally denotes, not “to take under one’s protection,” but “to take,” i.e. “take away” (Aben Ezra, Kimchi), “take along,” Psalm 49:18, “take to oneself” (Isaki) Psalm 73:24; 79:49; Hosea 13:14. As this word in the imperf. follows a fut. imperf. it cannot be regarded as a Preterite=“for he has taken me.” (Luther). It must be taken in an absolute sense in a line which is all the more comprehensive because of its brevity (Böttcher). For these reasons we cannot approve the otherwise possible rendering “if” (Hitzig) or better still “when” (Ewald) “it (viz. the hand of Sheol) takes hold on me.”

[Perowne: Psalm 49:14-15. We have in this passage the strong hope of eternal life with God, if not the hope of a resurrection. In the very midst of the gloomy picture which he draws of the end of the ungodly, there breaks forth one morning ray of light, the bright anticipation of the final triumph of the good over the evil. This is the inextinguishable hope which animates the Church of the Old Testament, as well as that of the New. Righteousness shall eventually, must in its very nature, reign on earth. The wicked shall find their end in Sheol ( Psalm 9:17-18), and the righteous shall trample on their graves. This, and not more than this, seems to have been the meaning originally of the Psalmist, in the words, “And the righteous shall have dominion over them in the morning.” But now that he comes to speak of himself, and his own personal relation to God, he rises into a higher strain. He who knows and loves God has the life of God, and can never perish. That life must survive the shock of death.” “God,” says the Psalmist, “shall redeem my soul from the hand of Hades, for He shall take me,” as He took Enoch, and as He took Elijah to Himself. We are not, of course, to suppose that the Sacred Poet himself expected to be taken up alive to heaven; but those great facts of former ages were God’s witnesses to man of his immortality, and of the reality of a life with Him beyond this world. It is a hope based on facts like these which here shines forth. It is a hope, not a revealed certainty. It rests on no distinct promise; it has not assumed the definite form of a doctrine. But it was enough to raise, to cheer, to encourage those who saw ungodliness prospering in the world. The end of the wicked was, after all, a thick darkness which had never been penetrated; the end of the righteous, life with God.—J. F.].

Psalm 49:18-20. Though (or, it may be that) he blessed his soul,etc. Many interpreters take כִי in the sense of “because” (Syr, Flamin,Calv, Heng, Hup.) as indicating the reason why such a termination must take place, still though the sense of “yea when” or “even though” Isaiah 1:15, (Del. and others), as granting something (Ewald, Gram362), yet we prefer to understand it in a hypothetic sense (as in Psalm 49:16), as presenting a possible case=“it may be that,” 2 Samuel 16:10. (Hitzig)—To “bless his soul” is hardly=to “bless himself in his heart” Deuteronomy 31:19 “to take his ease,” (Syr, Flamin, and most others), with the positive enjoyments, of eating and drinking, (Hitzig).—In Psalm 49:19, דּוּר must be understood, not as in the Arabic, in the rare sense of “habitations,” i.e. Sheol, Isaiah 38:12, (De Wette), but in the usual one of “generations,” because it is more natural to make “the soul” the subject of this sentence (Aben Ezra, Kimchi, J. H. Mich, Sachs, Olshaus, Hoffman, Kurtz, Ewald, Del,) than to suppose a direct address to the rich, (Geier, Rosen, De Wette, Hengsten, Hitzig); or to change תָּבוֹא into יָבוא (Old Trans, Hupfeld).—To “see the light” is a common expression for “to live” Psalm 58:9; Job 3:16; Ecclesiastes 6:5, but the “light” is not necessarily that of the sun, (Hupfeld), unless it be the sun of eternal life.—The common saying that men must perish like the beasts, is changed into the more elevated one, that only those who have not a right understanding of life shall perish like the beasts. (Hofmann). There is no reason for giving the conditional clause “if he understand not,” a positive sense as in Psalm 94:7, “and he regards it not.” (Hitzig).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. It is one of the mysteries of the Divine government, that worldly men, often and for a long time, enjoy so great prosperity that they never think of the end, and are intent only to increase their wealth, careless of God and His will. This mystery may disturb even a gracious soul, may fill it with fear and doubt, and lead it astray, especially when it sees the godly suffer in days of adversity, from the malice of the worldly-minded, to such an extent that they hardly know what to do. In such cases we want an explanation that will satisfy all men; and it is a thought full of comfort that God has furnished such a solution of the mystery, by the mouth of those who have formerly inclined to Him their ear.

2. To the godly—and to them alone—the contents of this revelation are more comforting than the form of it. For death puts an end to the worldly man himself, and to all the things of which he boasts,—an end from which all the wealth of earth cannot ransom him;—an end full of shame, because he has made himself like the irrational brutes, and he has no other prospect before him than that of going down to Sheol. The godly man shares, indeed, the universal lot of mortals, but in his personal life, he is intimately united to God, and has a treasure far more precious than perishable and deceitful riches. If redemption from the power of Sheol be possible, God only can effect it. And well may the pious man rejoice that it is not merely death that lays hands upon him, but God Himself, who will guide him in such a way that through the night he shall come to the light, and the morning of triumph.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

If we are led by God’s word and held by His hand, we need fear neither the world, nor sin, nor death.—God conducts His own people into the light, through the night of suffering, doubt, and death.—Riches without God are not only an uncertain but a deceitful good.—The world’s folly, and the wisdom from God.—The false security of the children of this world, and the needless fear of the godly.—The vanity of wealth acquired and enjoyed without God.—Poverty cannot disgrace, and misfortune cannot harm, if we find and hold fast to God.—The vanity of the worldly-minded man in his purposes and life.—He will not listen to God, will learn nothing salutary either in the world or from the world.

Starke: Many wise sayings have been uttered; Oh, that the many would diligently hear and act according to them !—A Christian needs heavenly wisdom to guide him in seeking his salvation; he needs an illuminated understanding in order that he may flee from all that can injure his soul.—The proper use of music is to further devotion and the honor of God.—How great must be the Lord, who can gather all nations before Him! in whose presence the meanest beggar is of as much account as the richest man on earth !—The fear of man is the first step towards apostacy from the known truth of God; for this reason, a Christian, especially a teacher, should not allow himself to be seduced by it, but should contend against it with faith and prayer.—Ungodly men are called oppressors, because they act in an oppressive way, but hereafter they shall be so dealt with themselves.—The ungodly rich men are foolish in supposing that they are the sole owners of their possessions: no, they are God’s, and He can take them away at any moment, even if they are many kingdoms.—Great wealth easily begets pride and forgetfulness of God; hence, those to whom God gives riches should keep their hearts with all diligence.—The longest life on earth is nothing, compared with eternity, yet our future state depends upon our conduct in this life. If we would be eternally happy, we must walk in constant readiness for eternity.—A sinner cannot redeem himself from death, much less from hell, by his earthly possessions, nor by his own power.—How different the judgments of God from those of men! How many bow down before the rich and mighty, praise and pronounce them happy, though their doings are in God’s eyes, simply folly and end only in misery!—Those who in the day of grace are accepted by grace, shall never be cast off.—Riches, sensual pleasure, and worldly glory are the devil’s dangerous baits. Ah ! beware of this poisonous sugar !—The treasures which we cannot take with us when we die are not the true ones; blessed, therefore, is he who gathers spiritual treasures, and aims to become rich in God.—Far better is it to be poor and pious, and retain God’s grace forever, than to be rich and ungodly, and bring down upon ourselves God’s eternal wrath.—In the day of grace labor diligently to become a child of light, and to walk as such, then you shall, hereafter, see the light of God’s countenance forever.—Man’s greatest dignity and honor, is to have the Divine image renewed in his soul by the Holy Ghost. But if forgetting his Creator, he gives himself to vain things and his own sensual appetites, he will sink almost below the level of the brute. Saladin ordered a long spear with a white flag attached to it to be carried through his camp, having on it this inscription: “The mighty King Saladin, the conqueror of all Asia and of Egypt, takes with him when he dies none of his possessions but this linen flag for a shroud.” The emperor Severus exclaimed upon his death-bed: “Omnia fui, et nihil mihi prodest.”—Osiander: It is the duty of all men to listen attentively to the word of God, and to follow its precepts; those who despise that word shall perish.—Selnekker: All the riches of the world are nothing compared with that genuine treasure which believers possess in their knowledge of a gracious God.—Menzel: The preacher should ever see one Lord, and two souls. The Lord is in heaven, and has called him to his office. Him he must keep before his eyes, regardless of men who trust in riches which they cannot retain forever. The two souls are described in Ezekiel 33 : one is the sinner’s, the other is the preacher’s. He is responsible for the first, and must suffer for it, if through his fault it be given over to condemnation.—Franke: The proclamation of the word of life should also produce life.—Renschel: The service of mammon yields but a poor reward. Be not deceived.—Frisch: Whatever a child of the world most highly esteems, is nothing but folly.—A man possessed of earthly honors and happiness, if he be not wise in Divine things—as few are in the hour of prosperity—will find his happiness quickly at an end, and his future state very miserable.—Tholuck: Blessed is he who, when he departs, has no treasures which he is forced to leave to others.—A rich man who wishes to deceive himself, will find many to help him.—The kingdom of God, though for a time not victorious, will conquer forever.—Umbreit: We can be delivered from the bondage of fear, only by humble, quiet submission to God’s will.—The pious man who though scorned by the world, never fears nor trembles, is God’s hero.—The more a man’s heart cleaves to the perishing things of this life, the less he enjoys them.—You may bargain for and prize all earthly things, but the soul has a priceless value, for it belongs to God.—Stier: Prosperous as the ungodly may be, there is comfort in the certainty that death makes a sure decision, when the proud children of the world shall perish, while the pious shall be redeemed and accepted by God.—Guenther: The worst kind of folly and self-deception is that of men who will not deem themselves to be higher than the brutes, nor truly learn to know themselves, nor work out their salvation with fear and trembling.—Diedrich: To live rightly is the highest Wisdom of Solomon, art, and courage.—If God be our daily aim, we need fear nothing from the world.—Taube: An appeal to every one concerning the folly of the worldly-minded, who can neither be feared nor called happy by the children of God.—The awful nothing out of which the All in this life is made.

[Henry: The children of God, though ever so poor, are truly happy in this, above the most prosperous of the children of this world, that they are well guarded against the terrors of death, and the judgment to come.—The way of worldliness is a very foolish way; they that lay up their treasures on earth, and set their affections on things below, act contrary both to right reason, and their own interest.—The love of the world is a disease that runs in the blood; men have it by kind, till the grace of God cures it.—The believing hopes of the soul’s redemption from the grave and reception to glory, are the great support and joy of the children of God in a dying hour.—They that are rich in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, have something which, when they die, they shall carry away with them, something which death cannot strip them of. Bishop Horne: At the call of Folly, what multitudes are always ready to assemble ! But Wisdom of Solomon, eternal and essential Wisdom crieth without, she lifteth up her voice in the streets, and who is at leisure to attend her heavenly lectures?—Scott: What good will it do any man to have his name perpetuated on earth, when he has no name in the registers of heaven?—J. F.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 49:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-49.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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