YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU
Almighty God, on this Lord’s Day, may your praise ring out clearly all over the earth.
Read PSALM 49
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
4 I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:
5 Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
6 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
7 No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
8 the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
9 so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses[b] forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had[c] named lands after themselves.
12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.[d]
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,
who will never again see the light of life.
20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThere’s more to life than having everything. What do you think?
If ever there was a passage of Scripture that speaks to our consumerist culture, this is it. Wealth, property, honor – nothing escapes the final enemy. And we are all in the same boat – rich and poor, high and low, foolish and wise, all are destined to perish (vs 5–12). The psalmist has such a moment of clarity about this that he wants to shout it from the rooftops (v 1).
It’s a grim message! Surely there must be a better way to live. Indeed, there is. The foolishness of materialism is not in the desire to possess, but in the capacity of material things to give their owner the illusion of immortality. Instead, the psalmist remembers God, who alone can rescue and redeem, to whom we are precious and who longs to draw us to himself (v 15).
He can break the fascination of things temporal and rescue us, bringing us to reality. And beyond that beckoning grave there is a hint of final rescue not fully developed here (see also Daniel 12:2,3) – ‘God will redeem me’ (v 15). For that we need an empty tomb. Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die’ (John 11:25).
George Bernard Shaw said that death is the ultimate statistic: ‘one out of one dies’. So, thank God for the sane and bracing truth of the resurrection!
Thank You Lord; because I am a new creation in Christ, I can have abundant life now and in the life to come.
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