But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Psalm 49:15
Peace comes when our hearts trust in God, not in riches.
The Folly of Trust in Riches
The psalmist announces he is about to solve one of life’s perplexing riddles. The wicked who prosper materially are not really blessed, for they trust their wealth and die like animals, without hope. Ultimately the upright will rule, for God will take them to Himself (vv. 14-15). Thus, the believer need not be envious when an ungodly man grows rich, for the doom of such men is sure.
Parallel passages. Job 21 argues powerfully that the wicked often do prosper in this world. Psalm 73 relates the feelings of a believer who initially envies the prosperous wicked in view of his own poverty and illness. This psalm reminds us that the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” are deceiving. The wicked wealthy tend to trust their riches rather than God, even though they know that like all living things they face death.
Psalm 49, a wisdom psalm attributed to the sons of Korah, has many similarities with Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The psalm calls for the wise person to realize that there is nothing to fear from the oppressive rich: like animals, they too will die. But the righteous will live forever. This psalm is quite different from a psalm of praise; it is an instruction text set to music. Its structure is: (1) a call for understanding; (2) a declaration of the vanity of trusting in wealth; (3) a declaration of the worthlessness of possessions after death; (4) a description of God’s redemption; (5) the conclusion that there is no need to fear the rich.
49:6-9 Those who trust in their wealth: As in the teaching of Jesus (Mark 10:24), there is a warning against trusting in wealth, for wealth can achieve nothing of lasting value in this life or the life to come. Nor give to God a ransom: Wealth cannot buy redemption. Pit refers to the power of death in its dark aspect (16:10). Only God has the power to deliver us from death and hell.
6 Those who trust in their wealth And boast 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 souls is costly, And it shall cease forever– 9 That he should continue to live eternally, And not see the Pit.
And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! Mark 10:24
49:14, 15 These verses vividly describe both the power of death and the greater power of God. Their beauty shall be consumed: Death is the great leveler. People who have beauty, riches and power in this world will lose them all at death. They will be stripped of everything except their character or soul. This is why the Scriptures exhort us to pursue character development – God’s law, holiness, wisdom, and knowledge – more than anything else. Each use of the word grave in these two verses is a translation of the Hebrew word Sheol, meaning death. God will redeem my soul: The psalmist trusts in God to deliver him from the power of death.
14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them; The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling. 15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah
⇒ You don’t have to be rich to trust in riches. Those who have even a little bit of money saved up like myself should also be careful not to rely on it for security rather than on God.
The Folly of Trusting in Riches
49 1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. Hear this, all peoples; Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, 2 Both low and high, Rich and poor together. 3 My mouth shall speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding. 4 I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will disclose my dark saying on the harp. 5 Why should I fear in the days of evil, When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
6 Those who trust in their wealth And boast 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 souls is costly, And it shall cease forever– 9 That he should continue to live eternally, And not see the Pit. 10 For he sees wise men die; Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, And leave their wealth to others. 11 Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, Their dwelling places to all generations; They call their lands after their own names. 12 Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain; He is like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the way of those who are foolish, And of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah 14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them; The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah 16 Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, When the glory of his house is increased; 17 For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him. 18 Though while he lives he blesses himself (For men will praise you when you do well for yourself), 19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They shall never see light. 20 A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, Is like the beasts that perish.