Psalm 49

We live in a truly connected world.

The internet has brought us all so much closer together, and with a few clicks of a mouse, we can be talking face to face, via a screen, to someone thousands of miles away.

Most of the commodities we rely on for our daily lives, such as steel, copper, wheat, oil and sugar, are priced on the global market, so that a shortage or an excess in one part of the world, can affect prices all around the world.

Photo for Psalm 49 (small)

In 2008 the Financial Crisis affected the whole world and in 2020 the Covid-19 Pandemic is also affecting the whole planet.

Psalm 49 speaks exactly into the context of our global world, with the Psalmist addressing “all who live in this world” and yet, at the same time, he also touches on things that affect us all very personally, such as fear, pride and envy.

How does this Psalm challenge our attitude towards possessions, wealth and stuff?

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me:
those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them: 
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough 
so that they should live on for ever
and not see decay.
For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
Their tombs will remain their houses for ever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself.
Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendour of their houses increases;
for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendour will not descend with them.
Though while they live they count themselves blessed 
and people praise you when you prosper 
they will join those who have gone before them,
who will never again see the light of life.

People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 49 (NIV)

The Psalmist says that “no one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them”. 

He goes on to say that “the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough”. 

This Psalm was written before the time of Jesus - way back in the Old Testament era.

But since the Psalm was written, Jesus has done, on the cross, exactly what no one else could do:

Jesus has paid the price for our sins.

Our lives can be redeemed - if we trust in him.

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