For the worship leader. A song of the sons of Korah.
Some songs are described as “wisdom psalms.” Similar in theme to the short sayings of Proverbs or the reflective essays of Ecclesiastes, these songs offer practical advice to the worshiper of the one True God. In Psalm 49 we find a meditation on wealth and wisdom, but others describe daily activities (127–128; 133), encouragement when evil succeeds (37; 73), and the results of following God or wickedness (112). The purpose of these songs is to edify those who sing and those who hear, reminding them, and us, how to live life as God intends.
1 Listen up, everyone! All you who reside in this world, give an ear! 2 Everyone—rich and poor, young and old, wise and foolish, humble and mighty— 3 My mouth will overflow with wisdom; the reflections of my heart will guide you to understand the nature of life. 4 I will tune my ear to the words of a proverb; to the sounds of a harp, I will reveal my riddle.
5 Why should I be afraid when dark evils swirl about me, when I am walking among the sin of evildoers— 6 Those who depend on their own fortunes, who boast about their earthly riches? 7 One person can’t grant salvation to another or make a payment to the True God for another. 8 Redeeming a life is costly; no premium is enough, ever enough, 9 That one’s body might live on forever and never fear the grave’s decay.
10 Everyone knows that even the wisest ones die, perishing together with the foolish and the stupid. For all die—beggars and kings, fools and wise men. Their wealth remains behind for others. 11 Although they wish to dwell in fine houses forever, their graves are their real resting places. Their homes are for all future generations, yet for a while they have named lands after themselves. 12 [No one, regardless of how rich or important, can live forever; he is][a] just like the animals that perish and decay.
13 This is the destiny of those foolish souls who have faith only in themselves; this will be the end of those happy to follow in their ways.
14 The fate of fools is the grave, and just like sheep, death will feast on them. The righteous will rule over them at dawn, their bodies, their outward forms, rotting in the grave far away from their great mansions. 15 But God will reach into the grave and save my life from its power. He will fetch me and take me into His eternal house.
16 Do not be afraid of the rich and powerful as their prestige and honor grow, 17 For they cannot take anything with them when they die. Their fame and glory will not follow them into the grave. 18 During their lives, they seek every blessing and advantage because others praise you when you’ve done well. 19 But they will soon join their ancestors, for all of time, among the tombs of the faithless—a place of no light. 20 Anyone who is rich or important without understanding is just like the animals that perish and decay.
49:12Greek manuscripts read, “Anyone who is rich without understanding.”
49:13Literally, selah, likely a musical direction from a Hebrew root meaning “to lift up”
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