Psalms 49

* A call for attention. (1-5) Folly of worldlings. (6-14)

Against fear of death. (15-20)1-5 We seldom meet with a more solemn introduction: there is no

truth of greater importance. Let all hear this with application

to ourselves. The poor are in danger from undue desire toward

the wealth of the world, as rich people from undue delight in

it. The psalmist begins with applying it to himself, and that is

the right method in which to treat of Divine things. Before he

sets down the folly of carnal security, he lays down, from his

own experience, the benefit and comfort of a holy, gracious

security, which they enjoy who trust in God, and not in their

worldly wealth. In the day of judgment, the iniquity of our

heels, or of our steps, our past sins, will compass us. In those

days, worldly, wicked people will be afraid; but wherefore

should a man fear death who has God with him?
6-14 Here is a description of the spirit and way of worldly

people. A man may have wealth, and may have his heart enlarged

in love, thankfulness, and obedience, and may do good with it.

Therefore it is not men's having riches that proves them to be

worldly, but their setting their hearts upon them as the best

things. Worldly men have only some floating thoughts of the

things of God, while their fixed thoughts, their inward

thoughts, are about the world; that lies nearest the heart. But

with all their wealth they cannot save the life of the dearest

friend they have. This looks further, to the eternal redemption

to be wrought out by the Messiah. The redemption of the soul

shall cost very dear; but, being once wrought, it shall never

need to be repeated. And he, the Redeemer, shall rise again

before he sees corruption, and then shall live for evermore, #Re

1:18|. This likewise shows the folly of worldly people, who sell

their souls for that which will never buy them. With all their

wealth they cannot secure themselves from the stroke of death.

Yet one generation after another applaud their maxims; and the

character of a fool, as drawn by heavenly Wisdom itself, #Lu

12:16-21|, continues to be followed even among professed

Christians. Death will ask the proud sinner, Where is thy

wealth, thy pomp? And in the morning of the resurrection, when

all that sleep in the dust shall awake, the upright shall be

advanced to the highest honour, when the wicked shall be filled

with everlasting shame and contempt, #Da 12:2|. Let us now judge

of things as they will appear in that day. The beauty of

holiness is that alone which the grave cannot touch, or damage.
15-20 Believers should not fear death. The distinction of men's

outward conditions, how great soever in life, makes none at

death; but the difference of men's spiritual states, though in

this life it may seem of small account, yet at and after death

is very great. The soul is often put for the life. The God of

life, who was its Creator at first, can and will be its Redeemer

at last. It includes the salvation of the soul from eternal

ruin. Believers will be under strong temptation to envy the

prosperity of sinners. Men will praise thee, and cry thee up, as

having done well for thyself in raising an estate and family.

But what will it avail to be approved of men, if God condemn us?

Those that are rich in the graces and comforts of the Spirit,

have something of which death cannot strip them, nay, which

death will improve; but as for worldly possessions, as we

brought nothing into the world, so it is certain that we shall

carry nothing out; we must leave all to others. The sum of the

whole matter is, that it can profit a man nothing to gain the

whole world, to become possessed of all its wealth and all its

power, if he lose his own soul, and is cast away for want of

that holy and heavenly wisdom which distinguishes man from the

brutes, in his life and at his death. And are there men who can

prefer the lot of the rich sinner to that of poor Lazarus, in

life and death, and to eternity? Assuredly there are. What need

then we have of the teaching of the Holy Ghost; when, with all

our boasted powers, we are prone to such folly in the most

important of all concerns
Copyright information for MHCC