Psalm 49

1650 psalter

Dirge of the Righteous over the unredeemed

Some of the sentiments in this psalm remind us of the book of Ecclesiastes, and also of that provoking and adamant statement of our Lord, “What doth it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” To live for this life only, and accumulate possession and riches, cannot buy redemption, or a resurrection unto glory and eternal life. Even our first parent, though created in uprightness and innocence, did not abide in that state for long, but brought in sin and death. Such is the thought in v. 12, “Nevertheless Adam being in honour abideth not.” Man, however great his estate, however multiplied his riches, cannot redeem his brother, cannot redeem anyone, and certainly cannot redeem himself.

The Psalmist, as did Paul to the Ephesians, brings in another factor, v. 15, “But God.” All are lost, but God who is rich in mercy, will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, and He shall receive me. Is that your persuasion, is that your experience, that God through Christ, and in Christ, has redeemed your soul?

Pastor Jeff O’ Neil

Recommended Tune: Winchester, Howard


Psalm 49

¹Hear this, all people, and give ear,
All in the world that dwell;
²Both low and high, both rich and poor.
³My mouth shall wisdom tell:

My heart shall knowledge meditate.
⁴I will incline mine ear
To parables, and on the harp
My sayings dark declare.

⁵Amidst those days that evil be,
Why should I, fearing, doubt?
When of my heels th ‘iniquity
Shall compass me a bout.

⁶Whoe’er they be that in their wealth
Their confidence do pitch,
And boast themselves, because they are
Become exceeding rich:

⁷Yet none of these his brother can
Redeem by any way;
Nor can he unto God for him
Sufficient ransom pay,

⁸(Their soul’s redemption precious is,
And it can never be,)
⁹That still he should for ever live,
And not corruption see.

¹⁰For why? he seeth that wise men die,
And brutish fools also
Do perish; and their wealth, when dead,
To others they let go.

¹¹Their inward thought is, that their house
And dwelling-places shall
Stand through all ages; they their lands
By their own names do call.

¹²But yet in honour shall not man
Abide continually;
But passing hence, may be compar’d
Unto the beasts that die.

¹³Thus brutish folly plainly is
Their wisdom and their way;
Yet their posterity approve
What they do fondly say.

¹⁴Like sheep they in the grave are laid,
And death shall them devour;
And in the morning upright men
Shall over them have pow’r:

Their beauty from their dwelling shall
Consume within the grave.
¹⁵But from hell’s hand God will me free,
For he shall me receive.

¹⁶Be thou not then afraid when one
Enriched thou dost see,
Nor when the glory of his house
Advanced is on high:

¹⁷For he shall carry nothing hence
When death his days doth end;
Nor shall his glory after him
Into the grave descend.

¹⁸Although he his own soul did bless
Whilst he on earth did live;
(And when thou to thyself dost well,
Men will thee praises give;)

¹⁹He to his fathers’ race shall go,
They never shall see light.
²⁰Man honour’d wanting knowledge is
Like beasts that perish quite.