Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
As a wisdom poem, Psalm 49 reminds us that wealth can not protect us from the disaster of death.
The first point the poet makes is that we are all held hostage by death. He says,
No one can redeem the life of another
or give God a ransom for their life –
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough –
that they should live on forever
and not see decay.
You see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others. (vv 8-10)
Death holds a gun to our head, the long fingers of Sheol grab at us from the grave. Rich and poor, foolish and wise, all will decay and become food for worms.
Is this cause for despair? Does this mean our lives are wasted? The poet says, “No”, and suggests a different way to look at death. He says,
Here is the fate of those who trust in themselves,. . .
They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd. . .
But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself (vv. 13-15).
If you trust in yourself, death will be your shepherd. If you trust in God, he will shepherd you and redeem you from the realm of the dead and take you to himself.
Our father, what a shocking view of life. Is life really just a parade to the grave? When my mother turned 90, she told me that her social life was mostly attending funerals. When she moved and I cleared out her room, I found a large collection of funeral bulletins with pictures and eulogies to people she knew and loved. But in the end she let all her friends go, and then she joined them.
As the poet says,
Despite their wealth, people do not endure,
They are like the beasts that perish (v. 12).
Are we like beasts before you, O God? Help us not to live as beasts, acting out our appetites for food and sleep and sex. Raise us up to be humans made in your image. Our life is short and temporary. Help us not to be slaves to our culture of things–filling our closets with clothes, our garages with vehicles, our lives with technology, and our safe deposit boxes with jewelry. Show us the futility of our efforts. Show us the danger that death will be our shepherd.
Jesus, we want you as our shepherd. Guide us through this world of stuff. Show us the true wealth of living in your care. And when death comes to call, may we hear your voice. Redeem us from the realm of the dead and take us to be with you.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.