April 23 2023
Today, Sunday April 23
Wealth Cannot Prevent Death
“Why should I fear in the days of evil, When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
Those who trust in their wealth And boast in the multitude of their riches, None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him-- For the redemption of their souls is costly, And it shall cease forever-- That he should continue to live eternally, And not see the Pit. For he sees wise men die; Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, And leave their wealth to others.
Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, Their dwelling places to all generations; They call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain; He is like the beasts that perish.
Remember yesterday I said that Psalm 49 is a sermon. It is a message warning us about the futility and vanity of thinking that wealth can buy you happiness or even life itself. Even Solomon, probably the wealthiest person who ever lived, found out that money and wealth and all the things it could purchase did not bring him satisfaction. He declared: “For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten. So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:16-17).
Especially today, we live in the age of the “rat race”. We live in a “Madison Avenue” culture driven by social media with an obsession to have things and be popular. Someone said it this way: “We buy things we do not need, with money we do not have, to impress people we don’t even know or like”. There are several lessons we should learn from Psalm 49. The first one is that wealth cannot prevent death (Psalm 49:5-12).
It isn't a sin to be wealthy if we acknowledge God as the Giver of everything we have. God was concerned Israel would forget Him after they became wealthy, and He reminded them in Deuteronomy 8:18: “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…”. God gives us wealth to help others and glorify His name (1 Tim. 6:7-19; Matt. 6:33). But an increase in wealth often leads to an increase in evil. It's good to have things that money can buy, if we don't lose the things money can't buy. It's sad when people start to confuse prices with values.
Jesus concluded a sermon on riches by saying, "For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). The psalmist feared that the wealthy in the land would start to take advantage of poorer people. It was easy for the rich to bribe judges and rob the poor of their rights. (See James 2:1-9; 5:1-6; Amos 4:1-3; 5:10-15.)
Those who boast of their wealth have a false sense of security, because their wealth can't protect them from "the last enemy"—death (1 Cor. 15:26). Jesus had this truth in mind when He spoke about the rich farmer in Luke 12:13-21. If a relative was poor, a Jew could redeem him by paying his debts (Lev. 25:23ff), but if a relative was dying, no amount of money could come to the rescue—and to whom would you give the money? A murderer could not be redeemed (Num. 35:31), even if you could calculate the worth of a human life.
So, money can't rescue you on this side of the grave, nor can it rescue you on the other side of the grave, because you can't take your money with you (vv. 10-12 and 17; Eccl. 2:18, 21; 7:2; 9:5). Whether you are rich or poor, wise or foolish, you leave everything behind. Many wealthy people think they will go on forever and enjoy their houses and lands, only to discover that death is a great leveler. After death, the rich and the poor stand equal before God. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that, “It is appointed unto a man once to die, and after this the judgement.”
The rich may call their lands after their own names, but the names engraved in stone will outlast the owners. The phrase "he is like the beasts that perish" (v. 12, and see Eccl. 3:10, 19, and 7:2) doesn't suggest that humans are on the same level as brute beasts, but only that both face ultimate death and decay.
Yes, my friend, we have eternal souls that only the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to redeem from the power of the grave! Today we should make sure we are living for Him and laying up treasures in heaven where they will last forever! (Matthew 6:20-21).