I don’t generally think of this blogsite as a place for devotional or exegetical writing. However, missions is highly dependent on money, and missionaries are tempted towards professional success rather than God. Therefore, a bit of analysis on Psalm 49 seems quite appropriate.
(1) Hear this, all peoples;
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
(2) Both low and high,
Rich and poor together.
(3) My mouth shall speak wisdom,
And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.
(4) I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will disclose my dark saying on the harp.
(5) Why should I fear in the days of evil,
When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
(6) Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,
(7) None of them can by any means redeem his brother,
Nor give to God a ransom for him—
(8) For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever—
(9) That he should continue to live eternally,
And not see the Pit.
(10) For he sees wise men die;
Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish,
And leave their wealth to others.
(11) Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever,
Their dwelling places to all generations;
They call their lands after their own names.
(12) Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain;
He is like the beasts that perish.
(13) This is the way of those who are foolish,
And of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah
(14) Like sheep they are laid in the grave;
Death shall feed on them;
The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;
And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.
(15) But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,
for He shall receive me. Selah
(16) Do not be afraid when one becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
(17) For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.
(18) Though while he lives he blesses himself
(For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),
(19) He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They shall never see light.
(20) A man who is in honor, yet does not understand,
Is like the beasts that perish.
The man described has several characteristics regarding the traditional understanding of success:
- Has a multitude of riches (vs 6 )
- His house has glory (vs 16 )
- He is praised by others around him (vs 18 )
- He is honored by others (vs 20 )
But he has some problems:
- No amount of money will buy favor with God (vs 7-8 )
- His wealth eventually goes to others (vs 10 )
- His lands and name may be lost in future generations (vs 11-12 )
- He will perish like a beast (vs 12,20 )
- His beauty will die in the grave (vs 14 )
And there are also some statements about one who is right with God:
- No reason to fear these days of evil (vs 5 )
- No reason to fear the sin around him (vs 5 )
- No reason to fear those who gain wealth (vs 16-17 )
- He shall rule over those who are foolish enough to trust in wealth (vs 14 )
- He will be redeemed from the grave and live eternally (vs 15 )
- He will be welcomed by God (vs 15 )
- God does not condemn money, but rather those who put their trust in it.
- We can neither buy favor from God, nor keep and control our wealth after our death.
- The honor, glory, and praise of those around us mean little, if we don’t have the honor, glory and praise of God.
- God has far more to give us freely than we can scrounge up ourselves.