Psalm 49 Commentary
Death is one of life’s most troubling riddles. We all experience it. Low or high; rich or poor; foolish or wise. The psalmist will use the harp to ponder this timeless puzzle. Let all the affected pay attention – which is everyone.
So, this being the case, what is the point of life?
Mortals react differently to this ageless question. Fear. Death is the most feared element of life. Many visibly tremble and are shameless about it. Others want to be smart and hide their fears in fervent efforts to improve life’s longevity. They are simply afraid of death but cannot come to mention it.
The psalmist asks: “why should I fear when evil days come?”
It is not a silly question. Why should you be scared of something you definitely know will happen to you, regardless of what you do? Why should someone come and scare you with the knowledge that you have a leg on your body? You already know it. You already have it.
We know this trick already. Satan showed up in the Garden of peace and tranquility and promised to make the first couple what they already were. The man was created in the image of the Creator God and the enemy came with a sweet sermon to make them like God. We mortals must be silly; if you think of it.
Evil comes with the threat of depriving us of something we feel we cannot do without. Money, for example. Life tops the list of basic needs. Forget it. The psalmist will instead trust the LORD. So admirable! He understands life cannot be bought from the streets. No mortal can be rich enough to buy it. Why bother? Let there be another threat; not this one.
Many others won’t react like the psalmist. They seek to solve the death riddle by piling up wealth. Perhaps they can find meaning here and now. They even name lands after themselves but it all comes to nothing. Like everyone else, their tombs will be their houses forever. But again, what is the point of life if it all ends this way for everyone?
Then the psalmist solves the puzzle with the insurance cover of the resurrection. “But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.” Verse 15. Therefore, death isn’t an end itself. This is powerful! Let this be the starting point for the saint’s aspirations, ambitions, and hopes.
And yes, “no one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them.” But God can. In the form of the man Jesus Christ, He showed up and bought life for everyone. You too can have it. Trust Jesus for it.
What a psalm!
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