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April 16, 2013
Psalm 49 is a Biblical song that teaches us how foolish it is to trust in wealth and fail to put our trust in God. We live in a world that is controlled and run by money. We want to make more money so we can do more things and buy more stuff for ourselves. Most of what we buy for ourselves are things we do not even need, it is usually something we think will bring us some measure of joy. It amazes me how much stuff we buy that just ends up on a shelf, or in a closet or in some other storage area and it is never used again after we buy it. I've got books that I purchased 20 years ago that I still haven't read, a whole library of music cassette tapes with nothing to play them on, and clothes I never wear anymore.
The media pounds us with a constant barrage of advertising in an effort to influence us to go out and buy more stuff that we don't need. If we don't have the money to pay for it, we just simply put it on a credit card and pay for it later. This makes us slaves to the stuff we buy and it really brings more misery than joy as we struggle to pay off our debts. We think if I just had more money, I could pay off my debts and be happy. The sad fact is, that for many people, when they do get more money, they just buy more stuff that they don't need instead of paying off those debts.
Part of the problem with people who have wealth think God has blessed them because of their wealth and they assume they have a relationship with God. This was what the writer of Psalm 49 was referring to in verse 6, " Even of those who trust in and lean on their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? 7 None of them can by any means redeem [either himself or] his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him—"
Notice that no matter how much wealth a person accumulates, they are unable to use that wealth to redeem their soul or to redeem the soul of someone else. When a wealthy person dies, their wealth stays here and someone else gets it for a season. Wealthy people could do so much good with their wealth but they squander most of it on stuff they don't need because they are selfish. We are all born with this selfish nature and it is this selfish nature that is at the root of all sin. No one needs more than one home but wealthy people will have several. Athletes and movie stars make millions of dollars and complain they are underpaid. No one needs millions of dollars to live a comfortable life.
The millions of dollars that was spent on that second or third home could have fed a lot of hungry people. These millionaires think they are blessed by God because they are wealthy and the sad fact is there are dozens of ministries in the United States who are supposed to be Christian ministries but have been deceived by wealth. The god of these ministries becomes money not Christ. They have convinced themselves that God has blessed them because they have much wealth but they never teach or preach about anything except how we should give more money to their ministry so God will bless with us even more money to send to them. They will never tell you to give your money to a local church.
The writer of Psalm 49 said about the salvation of our soul that, "8 For the ransom of a life is too costly, and [the price one can pay] can never suffice—9 So that he should live on forever and never see the pit (the grave) and corruption." God is saying that no matter how much money we have, how many good deeds we do, how kind are we to others or anything else that deceives us into thinking we are earning merit points with God is not sufficient enough to give us eternal life in heaven. The ransom is too costly and no one can pay it. Being dependent on wealth or on ourselves will not ever keep us from the grave and the corruption of our bodies as they rot there.
The writer of Psalm goes on to talk about people who put their trust in wealth and the things of this world instead of God and what their ultimate fate will be beginning in Verse 10, " For he seeth that wise men die; likewise the fool and the brutish person perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their inward thought is that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. 12 Nevertheless man, though he be in honor, abideth not; he is like the beasts that perish. 13 This their way is their folly, yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah 14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them, and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning, and their beauty shall be consumed in the grave away from their dwelling."
No matter how beautiful or handsome a person is or how wealthy a person is or how much property a person owns, that person still grows old, dies, and is laid in a grave. Their land, their money, and their beauty does them no good as their bodies decay and rot in a casket. They may have streets and lands named after them but that does not give them immortality or an escape from the flames of hell.
If we cannot pay a ransom to give us eternal life and our earthly prosperity is only temporary and we just grow old and die with a possible future separated from God because of our sin, then what hope do we have? This is answered in verse 15, "But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me. Selah."
Psalm 49 is a passage about the hopelessness of man in his own condition but in the middle of the passage is a message of hope. "God will redeem my soul." We know from history and the Bible that this was accomplished when Jesus Christ, the God man, went to the cross and died for your sin and my sin. He redeemed us. He paid the penalty for our sin that we could not nor could ever do. He was the only one who could pay the price to redeem us because He is God in the flesh.
There is a song that goes, "I'm just a man who has been blessed, because of you (Christ), no more, no less." This is a song that God desires all of mankind to sing. He wants all of mankind to be redeemed and the death of His son on the cross accomplished that. Any person has trusted in Christ and has accepted His gift of pardon can sing that song with a joyous heart. However, the world rejects this offer. Why? What's the problem? The world would rather trust in wealth and their own supposedly good works.
"16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased.17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. 18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul (and men will praise thee when thou doest well for thyself), 19 he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. 20 Man, though he is in honor but understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish."
Man will praise other men who have wealth. They are envious. People play lotteries and enter sweepstakes in hopes of attaining wealth. However, the wealthy man who dies never having trusted Christ will never see light again because of his lack of understanding. He becomes like the animals of the world: perished and forgotten.
Jesus said, "And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24 In this passage, Jesus was just expounding on Psalm 49. Men mistakenly believe that just because they have wealth, God has blessed them and these men or women think they have need of nothing when they have rejected the one thing they need the most, the gift of eternal life through putting their trust in Christ and what He accomplished on the cross.
The world system rejects this truth. The world system has no real value.
Trust in Christ or trust in the world system? That choice has, and always will be, yours.
Copyright 2013 by Gary Goodworth
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