Today, Saturday April 22
A Preaching Psalm
Psalm 49:1-20 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah
“Hear this, all peoples; Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, Both low and high, Rich and poor together. My mouth shall speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding. I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will disclose my dark saying on the harp.”
I like what the great Bible commentator Matthew Henry said about this Psalm in his introduction to it. “This psalm is a sermon, and so is the next. In most of the psalms we have the penman praying or praising; in these we have him preaching; and it is our duty, in singing psalms, to teach and admonish ourselves and one another.”
Another commentator said this is an anonymous psalm. Sometimes the anonymous psalms are called "orphan psalms" because they stand alone on the page of Scripture without their human parentage being known. This is a Psalm about rich people. When Barbara Hutton, the wealthy heiress of the Woolworth fortune died, Time magazine in an obituary noted her numerous unhappy marriages to the rich, the powerful, the popular of the world; noted her chronic illnesses; recalled that she had been characterized as "the poor little rich girl." She had everything, but she had nothing.
This psalm is about poor rich people. People who have money, but that is all they have. Instead of family, fortune, friends, and their future, nothing matters to them but money. These people are the orphans of eternity. All we know about this psalm is that it was "for the sons of Korah." It is one of ten such psalms. The sons of Korah descended from a father who perished under the wrath and curse of God because of his arrogance and pride. The fact that he was a Levite, the grandson of Kohath, great-grandson of Levi, and kin to Moses and Aaron, only aggravated his fault. The heading serves to underscore the aggravated wickedness and pride of the rich man who makes money his god.
Psalm 49 does not make being rich a sin. The sin lies in trusting in riches. It is not money that is the root of all evil, but the love of it. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 is a companion to this Psalm: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
In the first two verses we notice that the psalmist had a message for everybody in the world, the important people and the nobodies, the rich and the poor. “Hear this, all peoples; Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, Both low and high, Rich and poor together”. The word "world" is the translation of an unusual Hebrew word that means "the total human scene, the whole sphere of passing life," not unlike "world" in 1 John 2:15-17.
From verse 3 we can see that the writer is speaking from his heart. “And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding”. He is also writing from the wisdom and understanding that the Lord gave him, and he dealt with a mystery that only the Lord could explain (v. 4). The mystery was life itself and its puzzling relationship to the distribution of wealth and the power that wealth brings. How should believers respond when they see the rich get richer? Should they be afraid that the wealthy will abuse the poor? Should they be impressed by the wealth that others possess and seek to imitate them?
I’ll never forget my college professor, Dr. Elmer Towns, telling us in class one day that money is life. Money is earned when we exchange our time, our intellect, our skills for a paycheck at the end of the week. James 4:14 reminds us that our life is a span of time that we have on planet earth and at best it is very brief. The money we earn buys us the necessities of life, food, clothing and shelter, to sustain and protect us. He said, “the way we spend our money is the way we spend our lives”.
The problem is some people think that life is all about money and they live for it, and the things it can buy for them, or the prestige or pleasure it brings them. And it becomes their master! Jesus taught us that you cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money at the same time. But if you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things, (food, clothing, shelter), will be added to you (Matthew 6:19-34).
Yes, my friend this is a great message from a preaching psalmist to warn us of the uncertainty of riches and we should definitely take heed to it and what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:17-19, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”