On Psalm 49—Part 2

(Ps 49:6) They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

The word for "wealth" means also "strength".

(Ps 49:7) None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:
(Ps 49:8) For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:

In the verse above, the word translated "for" means "and". The redemption of their souls is available if they repent during this life. If they die in their sins, this redemption ceases for them, for it can no longer be applied to them.

(Ps 49:9) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.

Literally, verse 9 says "And he will live forever, he will not see corruption", where "he" can be associated with "redemption" in verse 8. Thus, verses 8 and 9 indicate that this redemption is a person. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45). The statement that he will not see corruption is made also in Ps 16:10 using the same Hebrew words. The statement refers to the fact that Jesus did not see corruption because he was resurrected (Ac 2:25-32).

(Ps 49:10) For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.

In a literal interpretation of the Hebrew text, the relation between verses 7, 8, 9, and 10 could be understood as follows. Verse 7 mentions redemption. Then verses 8 and 9 comment briefly on the topic of redemption. Verse 10 continues verse 7, explaining why people are concerned about redemption. The kind of redemption they look for is some way to continue to live and not face death. However, when they consider that they will die, they hope that their achievements and descendants will remain after their death.

(Ps 49:11) Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
(Ps 49:12) Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.

(Ec 3:19)MKJV For that which happens to the sons of men also happens to beasts, even one thing happens to them. As this one dies, so that one dies; yea, they all have one breath; so that a man has no advantage over a beast; for all is vanity.
(Ec 3:20) All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all return to dust again.

The verse above refers to the visible end of all. What happens to the soul of a dead person is not visible to the eye of man. However, if the soul is taken into account, one who dies in his sin is in a worse condition than the beasts, for his soul continues to live and yet he never sees the light (Ps 49:19). Clearly, those who end in this condition do not follow the right way. The following verse states that "their way is their folly".

(Ps 49:13) This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.

The word for "yet their posterity" is more precisely translated "and those after them". Moreover, the primary meaning of the verb translated "approve" is "to be pleased with".

(Ps 49:14)Darby Like sheep are they laid in Sheol: Death feedeth on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their comeliness shall be for Sheol to consume, that there be no habitation for them.

Literally, the first part of the verse says "Like sheep they are appointed to Sheol". The word for "feedeth on them" could also be translated "ruleth them". The word for "comeliness" is given the meaning "form, image, idol" in lexicons. Moreover, the word for "habitation" means also "exalted, elevation, height". Thus, the last part of the verse could be translated literally as follows: "after its elevation their form shall be for Sheol to consume". That is, from its temporary earthly glory, their form is taken down to Sheol where it is consumed.

(Ps 49:15) But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

Literally, "power of the grave" is "hand of Sheol". Further, the Hebrew word for "he shall receive me" has the primary meaning "he shall take me".

(Ps 49:16) Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;

One who gets richer gets also more powerful. If such a person is unrighteous, some might be tempted to fear.

(Ps 49:17) For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.
(Ps 49:18) Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

Literally, verse 18 says "Because he blessed his soul in his life; and he will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself". The translation "he will praise thee" instead of "they will praise thee" is used here because it corresponds to the spelling of the word יודך in the unpointed Hebrew text. However, "he will praise thee" could be interpreted as "one will praise thee", that is, "men will praise thee", as in the KJV. As for the meaning of this verse, the Lord said that "whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's, will save it" (Mk 8:35)EMTV. Clearly, the man of Ps 49:17-18 is one who seeks to bless himself, not one who would deny himself for the sake of the Lord. The one who praises men when they live for themselves is not the Lord, but the enemy. He also influences people to approve and encourage those who live for themselves. Thus, speaking about the man who lives for himself, verse 18 states that his glory will not follow him after death. Verses 17-18 do not say that all men leave their glory when they die, but that those who live for themselves do so. Abraham had glory after his death (Lk 16:22-31). However, Abraham did not live for himself. This could be seen clearly in Ge 22:1-18; when tested by God, he did not withhold his son Isaac.

(Ps 49:19) He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.

The Hebrew word translated "he shall go" has feminine gender, which agrees with the gender of the Hebrew word for "soul" in verse 18. Thus, verse 19 mentions that his soul will join his fathers in hell.

(Ps 49:20) Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.

Compared to verse 12, here only those without understanding are mentioned. While people die and are forgotten, those who understand (that is, those who are saved) will be raised from dead and live in glory eternally.

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