Read Psalm 49
1 Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
4 I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:
5 Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
6 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
7 No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
8 the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
9 so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.
12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 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.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,
who will never again see the light of life.
20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish.
How do you think your life would change if you suddenly became rich?
Why should the poor not be intimidated by the rich? (Psalm 49:5-11)
To what temptation do the rich often fall victim? (Psalm 49:6)
What is the fate of people who rely on themselves? (Psalm 49:13-14)
How do the benefits of seeking righteousness outweigh the disadvantages?
What is one action you could take to lessen your concern about finances?
“The wicked fools of the world seem to prosper and lord it over the righteous wise. The wealthy intimidate others. They boast in their riches and trust their wealth to save them. The wise psalmist reassures himself and others that their riches will not save them from the ultimate threat, namely death. On the other hand, God will redeem him (and others like him) from death, so that he will live with God forever.
The psalm continues to assure God’s people that, even though they might not prosper in this world, God cares for them and will save them from death. The psalm is a rare glimpse in the Old Testament of the hope of the afterlife for God’s people, but it is just a glimpse. We do not hear much detail at all. While there is still mystery, Christian readers do have a fuller understanding. For one thing, we know how death was defeated. The psalm said that no-one could pay a ransom for himself or another to be delivered from death, although, amazingly, God could redeem a person. The New Testament shows that it is Jesus Christ, who offered his life for us, that pays the ransom and redeems us from death. Jesus told his disciples that ‘the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28; cf. Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6). According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus ‘has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant’ (Hebrews 9:15).”
Longman, Tremper, III. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Ed. David G. Firth. Vol. 15–16. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2014.
Lord, our God, preserve us from covetousness and grant us true wisdom that we that we will not seek the treasures of this world, or put our trust in uncertain riches. Fill our hearts with contentment so that we will be satisfied with the daily bread that comes from your hands. Continually fill us with your Holy Spirit so you will always seek the kingdom of our Lord Jesus first, and enjoy fellowship with him, now and forever. Amen