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Wealth and the Fate of the Wicked

For the music director. Of the sons of Korah. A psalm.[a]

49 Hear this, all you peoples;
give ear, all you inhabitants of the world,
both low and high,
rich and poor together.
My mouth will speak wisdom,
and the meditation of my heart will be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will propound[b] my riddle on a lyre.
Why should I fear in times of calamity,[c]
when iniquity surrounds me at my heels,
those who trust their wealth
and boast about the abundance of their riches?
Surely a man cannot redeem a brother.
He cannot give to God his ransom
(since[d] the redemption price for their life is costly
and it always fails),
so that he may stay alive forever
and not see the pit.
10 For he sees that the wise die,
together with the fool and brute they perish,
and leave their wealth to the next generation.
11 Within them they think their houses are forever,
their dwelling places from generation to generation.
They name[e] their lands by their own names.
12 But man cannot continue in his pomp.
He is like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the journey[f] of those who have foolish confidence,
and those after them who accept their sayings. Selah
14 Like sheep they are destined to Sheol;
death will shepherd them.
But the upright will rule over them in the morning,
and their forms will be for Sheol to consume,
far from his lofty abode.
15 Surely God will ransom my life
from the power[g] of Sheol,
because he will receive me. Selah
16 Do not fear when a man becomes rich,
when the wealth[h] of his house increases,
17 because when he dies he will not take away any of it.
His wealth will not follow down after him.
18 Though he congratulated his soul while he was living
—and people will praise you when you do well for yourself—
19 it[i] will go to the generation of his fathers.
Never will they see light.
20 Humankind in its pomp, but does not understand,
is like the beasts that perish.


  1. Psalm 49:1 The Hebrew Bible counts the superscription as the first verse of the psalm; the English verse number is reduced by one
  2. Psalm 49:4 Literally “open”
  3. Psalm 49:5 Literally “the days of evil”
  4. Psalm 49:8 Hebrew “and”
  5. Psalm 49:11 Literally “call”
  6. Psalm 49:13 Hebrew “way”
  7. Psalm 49:15 Literally “hand”
  8. Psalm 49:16 Or “honor”
  9. Psalm 49:19 That is, his soul