Psalm 49

Misplaced Trust in Wealth

For the choir director. A psalm of the sons of Korah.

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who inhabit the world,(A)
both low and high,
rich and poor together.(B)
My mouth speaks wisdom;
my heart’s meditation brings understanding.(C)
I turn my ear to a proverb;
I explain my riddle with a lyre.(D)

Why should I fear in times of trouble?
The iniquity of my foes surrounds me.(E)
They trust in their wealth
and boast of their abundant riches.(F)
Yet these cannot redeem a person[a]
or pay his ransom to God(G)
since the price of redeeming him is too costly,
one should forever stop trying[b](H)
so that he may live forever
and not see the Pit.(I)

10 For one can see that the wise die;
the foolish and stupid also pass away.(J)
Then they leave their wealth to others.(K)
11 Their graves are their permanent homes,[c]
their dwellings from generation to generation,
though they have named estates after themselves.(L)
12 But despite his assets,[d] mankind will not last;
he is like the animals that perish.(M)

13 This is the way of those who are arrogant,
and of their followers,
who approve of their words.[e](N)Selah
14 Like sheep they are headed for Sheol;
Death will shepherd them.
The upright will rule over them in the morning,(O)
and their form will waste away in Sheol,[f]
far from their lofty abode.(P)
15 But God will redeem me
from the power of Sheol,
for he will take me.(Q)Selah

16 Do not be afraid when a person gets rich,
when the wealth[g] of his house increases.(R)
17 For when he dies, he will take nothing at all;
his wealth will not follow him down.(S)
18 Though he blesses himself during his lifetime—
and you are acclaimed when you do well for yourself(T)
19 he will go to the generation of his ancestors;
they will never see the light.(U)
20 Mankind, with his assets
but without understanding,
is like the animals that perish.(V)


  1. 49:7 Or Certainly he cannot redeem himself, or Yet he cannot redeem a brother
  2. 49:8 Or costly, it will cease forever
  3. 49:11 LXX, Syr, Tg; MT reads Their inner thought is that their houses are eternal
  4. 49:12 Or honor
  5. 49:13 Lit and after them with their mouth they were pleased
  6. 49:14 Hb obscure
  7. 49:16 Or glory, also in v. 17

Psalm 49[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

Hear(A) this, all you peoples;(B)
    listen, all who live in this world,(C)
both low and high,(D)
    rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;(E)
    the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.(F)
I will turn my ear to a proverb;(G)
    with the harp(H) I will expound my riddle:(I)

Why should I fear(J) when evil days come,
    when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth(K)
    and boast(L) of their great riches?(M)
No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom(N) for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—(O)
so that they should live on(P) forever
    and not see decay.(Q)
10 For all can see that the wise die,(R)
    that the foolish and the senseless(S) also perish,
    leaving their wealth(T) to others.(U)
11 Their tombs(V) will remain their houses[b] forever,
    their dwellings for endless generations,(W)
    though they had[c] named(X) lands after themselves.

12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;(Y)
    they are like the beasts that perish.(Z)

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,(AA)
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.[d]
14 They are like sheep and are destined(AB) to die;(AC)
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail(AD) over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;(AE)
    he will surely take me to himself.(AF)
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
    when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing(AG) with them when they die,
    their splendor will not descend with them.(AH)
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—(AI)
    and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,(AJ)
    who will never again see the light(AK) of life.

20 People who have wealth but lack understanding(AL)
    are like the beasts that perish.(AM)


  1. Psalm 49:1 In Hebrew texts 49:1-20 is numbered 49:2-21.
  2. Psalm 49:11 Septuagint and Syriac; Hebrew In their thoughts their houses will remain
  3. Psalm 49:11 Or generations, / for they have
  4. Psalm 49:13 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 15.