Dirge of the Righteous over the unredeemed

Some of the sentiments in this psalm remind us of the book of Ecclesiastes, and also of that provoking and adamant statement of our Lord, “What doth it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” To live for this life only, and accumulate possession and riches, cannot buy redemption, or a resurrection unto glory and eternal life. Even our first parent, though created in uprightness and innocence, did not abide in that state for long, but brought in sin and death. Such is the thought in v. 12, “Nevertheless Adam being in honour abideth not.” Man, however great his estate, however multiplied his riches, cannot redeem his brother, cannot redeem anyone, and certainly cannot redeem himself.

The Psalmist, as did Paul to the Ephesians, brings in another factor, v. 15, “But God.” All are lost, but God who is rich in mercy, will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, and He shall receive me. Is that your persuasion, is that your experience, that God through Christ, and in Christ, has redeemed your soul?

Psalm 49

   1  Hear this, all people, and give ear,
         all in the world that dwell;
   2  Both low and high, both rich and poor.
   3     My mouth shall wisdom tell:

      My heart shall knowledge meditate.
   4      I will incline mine ear
      To parables, and on the harp
         my sayings dark declare.

   5  Amidst those days that evil be,
         why should I, fearing, doubt?
      When of my heels th' iniquity
         shall compass me about.

   6  Whoe'er they be that in their wealth
         their confidence do pitch,
      And boast themselves, because they are
         become exceeding rich:

   7  Yet none of these his brother can
         redeem by any way;
      Nor can he unto God for him
         sufficient ransom pay,

   8  (Their soul's redemption precious is,
         and it can never be,)
   9  That still he should for ever live,
         and not corruption see.

  10  For why? he seeth that wise men die,
         and brutish fools also
      Do perish; and their wealth, when dead,
         to others they let go.

  11  Their inward thought is, that their house
         and dwelling-places shall
      Stand through all ages; they their lands
         by their own names do call.

  12  But yet in honor shall not man
         abide continually;
      But passing hence, may be compared
         unto the beasts that die.

  13  Thus brutish folly plainly is
         their wisdom and their way;
      Yet their posterity approve
         what they do fondly say.

  14  Like sheep they in the grave are laid,
         and death shall them devour;
      And in the morning upright men
         shall over them have pow'r:

      Their beauty from their dwelling shall
         consume within the grave.
  15  But from hell's hand God will me free,
         for he shall me receive.

  16  Be thou not then afraid when one
         enriched thou dost see,
      Nor when the glory of his house
         advanced is on high:

  17  For he shall carry nothing hence
         when death his days doth end;
      Nor shall his glory after him
         into the grave descend.

  18  Although he his own soul did bless
         whilst he on earth did live;
      (And when thou to thyself dost well,
         men will thee praises give;)

  19  He to his fathers' race shall go,
         they never shall see light.
  20  Man honored wanting knowledge is
         like beasts that perish quite.

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