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,
2both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
3My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
4I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:
5Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
6those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
7No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
8the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
9so that they should live on forever
and not see decay.
10For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they hadc named lands after themselves.
12People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
13This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.d
14They 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.
16Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
17for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
18Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
and people praise you when you prosper—
19they 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.
This psalm is a sermon, and so is the next Psalm 50.
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.
The scope and design of this discourse is to convince the men of this world of their sin and folly in setting their hearts upon the things of this world, and so to persuade them to seek the things of a better world; as also to comfort the people of God, in reference to their own troubles and the grief that arises from the prosperity of the wicked.
I. In the preface he proposes to awaken worldly people out of their security (v. 1-3) and to comfort himself and other godly people in a day of distress (v. 4, 5).
II. In the rest of the psalm,
1. He endeavors to convince sinners of their folly in loving the wealth of this world, by showing them
(1.) That they cannot, with all their wealth, save their friends from death (v. 6-9).
(2.) They cannot save themselves from death (v. 10).
(3.) They cannot secure to themselves happiness in this world (v. 11, 12). Much less,
(4.) Can they secure to themselves happiness in the other world (v. 14).
2. He endeavors to comfort himself and other good people,
(1.) Against the fear of death (v. 15).
(2.) Against the fear of the prospering power of wicked people (v. 16-20).
In singing this Psalm let us receive these instructions, and be wise.