Opening Prayer

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.

Hear this, all you peoples;
    listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
    rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb;
    with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
    when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—
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.


  1. Psalm 49:1 In Hebrew texts 49:1-20 is numbered 49:2-21.
  2. Psalm 49:11 Septuagint and Syriac; Hebrew In their thoughts their houses will remain
  3. Psalm 49:11 Or generations, / for they have
  4. Psalm 49:13 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 15.

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.


Confess your faith: ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.’1

Think Further

This psalm is unusual in that it is not addressed to God but to people, in fact to all people (v 1). It seems to have more in common with Proverbs or Ecclesiastes than with Israel’s hymn book. While people might jibe that ‘religion’ is about ‘pie in the sky when you die’, the Old Testament refutes that claim. It is widely recognized that it contains no developed doctrine of a life to come. Death is the common end for both man and beast (v 14), though perhaps the ‘shades’ of the dead continue in a shadowy and unattractive ‘realm of the dead’ (Hebrew: Sheol), never to see the light of life again (vs 11,15,19). The point is that this is everybody’s fate, high and low, wealthy, wise, foolish, and senseless. Whatever the boasts and splendor of the fortunate, it is all destined to end in the same way – decay and dust (v 14). Moreover, there is no way out. Nobody can redeem us from our common fate (v 7). Israel hoped for pie in this life, not beyond it.2

However, we may pick up the themes of continuity and contrast between the Testaments. There is continuity in that life ends in death for all of us, but there is a pivotal event that changes everything: ‘we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died … if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.’3 There is, after all, a Redeemer who can ransom us for God, despite verse 7! There is something radically ‘new’ in the new covenant: abundant life in the now and in the life to come. Death is no longer our shepherd (v 14). We have another.4

Perhaps there is just a hint of this in verse 15: God ‘will surely take me to himself’. A well-placed hope.


‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’5

Closing prayer

Thank You Lord; because I am a new creation in Christ, I can have abundant life now and in the life to come.

Last Updated on June 11, 2023 by kingstar

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