|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
49:6-14 Here is a description of the spirit and way of worldly people. A man may have wealth, and may have his heart enlarged in love, thankfulness, and obedience, and may do good with it. Therefore it is not men's having riches that proves them to be worldly, but their setting their hearts upon them as the best things. Worldly men have only some floating thoughts of the things of God, while their fixed thoughts, their inward thoughts, are about the world; that lies nearest the heart. But with all their wealth they cannot save the life of the dearest friend they have. This looks further, to the eternal redemption to be wrought out by the Messiah. The redemption of the soul shall cost very dear; but, being once wrought, it shall never need to be repeated. And he, the Redeemer, shall rise again before he sees corruption, and then shall live for evermore, Re 1:18. This likewise shows the folly of worldly people, who sell their souls for that which will never buy them. With all their wealth they cannot secure themselves from the stroke of death. Yet one generation after another applaud their maxims; and the character of a fool, as drawn by heavenly Wisdom itself, Lu 12:16-21, continues to be followed even among professed Christians. Death will ask the proud sinner, Where is thy wealth, thy pomp? And in the morning of the resurrection, when all that sleep in the dust shall awake, the upright shall be advanced to the highest honour, when the wicked shall be filled with everlasting shame and contempt, Da 12:2. Let us now judge of things as they will appear in that day. The beauty of holiness is that alone which the grave cannot touch, or damage.
Verse 14. - Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them. With the foolish fancies and vain conceits of the ungodly rich men, the psalmist now contrasts the reality. When they die they are "laid in the grave," or "ranged in Hades" (Kay), as sheep in a sheepfold. There is no escape for them. Death is their shepherd; he keeps them, watches over them, tends them, allows none to quit the fold. And the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning. When the resurrection morn comes - and no other explanation appears to be possible (see even Cheyne) - it will bring them no release; the righteous will then "have domination over them," and will certainly not set them free (Revelation 21:8). And their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling; rather, and their beauty is for Hades to consume out of its dwelling; i.e. its clay tenement (so Dr. Kay).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Like sheep they are laid in the grave,.... They are not in life like sheep, harmless and innocent; nor reckoned as such for the slaughter, as the people of God are; unless it be that they are like them, brutish and stupid, thoughtless of death, and unconcerned about their estate after it; and so die and go into the grave, like natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, 2 Peter 2:12; or rather like sheep that have been grazing in good pasture in the daytime, at night are put into a dark and narrow pinfold or pound; so wicked rich men, having lived in great abundance and plenty in the day of life, when the night of death comes, they are put into the dark and narrow grave. And it is further to be observed, that the comparison is not to sheep prepared for slaughter, and killed for food; for these are not laid in a ditch, to which the grave may answer; but, as Junius observes, to those that die of themselves; to rotten sheep, and who are no other than carrion, and are good for nothing but to be cast into a ditch; so wicked men are laid in the grave; but as to be laid in the grave is common to good and bad after death, rather the words should be rendered, "like sheep they are laid in hell" (c); as the word is in Psalm 9:17; a place of utter darkness and misery, where the wicked rich man was put when he died, Luke 16:19;
death shall feed on them: or "rule them" (d); as shepherds rule their flocks, in imitation of whom kings govern their subjects; the same word is used of both; and so death is represented as a king, or rather as a tyrant reigning over the sons of men; even over kings and princes, and the great men of the earth, who have reigned over others; see Romans 5:14; or "shall feed them" (e), as the shepherd feeds the sheep; not by leading them into green pastures, into the Elysian fields; but where a drop of water cannot be obtained to cool the tongue; into utter darkness, where are weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth; into the apartments of hell, and habitations of devils, to be guests with them, and live as they do: or "shall feed on them"; as the wolf on the sheep, devouring their strength, and consuming their bodies, Job 18:13; but as this is no other than what it does to everyone, rather the second, or an eternal death, is here meant; the wrath of God, the worm that is always gnawing, eating, and consuming, and never dies;
and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; the upright are such to whom the uprightness or righteousness of Christ is shown or imputed, and who have right spirits renewed, and principles of grace and holiness formed in them, and walk uprightly in their lives and conversations; these, in the morning of the resurrection day, when Christ the sun of righteousness shall arise, when the light of joy and gladness, shall break forth upon his coming, at the beginning of the day of the Lord, which will last a thousand years; they, the dead in Christ, rising first, shall, during that time, reign with him as kings and priests; when the wicked, being destroyed in the general conflagration, shall become the footstool of Christ, and be like ashes under the soles of the feet of his people; and the kingdom, the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the saints; see 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Daniel 7:27; and though this is a branch of the happiness and glory of the people of God, yet it is here mentioned as an aggravation of the misery of the wicked, who, in another state, will be subject to those they have tyrannized over here;
and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling; or "their form" (f) and figure; diseases often destroy the beauty of a man, death changes his countenance, and makes a greater alteration still; but the grave takes away the very form and figure of the man; or, as it is in the "Keri", or margin of the Hebrew text, "and their rock shall consume" (g); that is, their riches, which are their rock, fortress, and strong city, and in which they place their trust and confidence; these shall fail them when they come to the grave, which is "their dwelling", and is the house appointed for all living: and seeming it is so, rather this should be understood of "hell" (h), which will be the everlasting mansion of wicked men, and in which they will be punished in soul and body for ever; though rather the sense is, "when their rock", that is, Christ, shall come "to consume the grave", and destroy its power; when he, I say, shall come "out of his habitation", heaven, then shall the righteous have the dominion, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
(c) "in inferno", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth. (d) "reget eos", Vatablus. (e) "Pascet eos", Musculus, Tigurine version, Gejerus, Cocceius. (f) "figura eorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "forma eorum", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (g) "auxilium eorum", Sept. V. L. Eth. Ar. "robur illorum", Musculus; "petra illorum", Cocceius. (h) "infernus", Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
The Treasury of David
14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for he shall receive me. Selah.
"Like sheep they are laid in the grave." As dumb, driven cattle, they are hurried to their doom, and are penned in within the gates of destruction. As sheep that go whither they are driven, and follow their leader without thought, so these men who have chosen to make this world their all, are urged on by their passions, till they find themselves at their journey's end, that end the depths of Hades. Or if we keep to our own translation, we have the idea of their dying peaceably, and being buried in quiet, only that they may wake up to be ashamed at the last great day. "Death shall feed on them." Death like a grim shepherd leads them on, and conducts them to the place of their eternal pasturage, where all is barrenness and misery. The righteous are led by the Good Shepherd, but the ungodly have death for their shepherd, and he drives them onward to hell. As the power of death rules them in this world, for they have not passed from death unto life, so the terrors of death shall devour them in the world to come. As grim giants, in old stories, are said to feed on men whom they entice to their caves, so death, the monster, feeds on the flesh and blood of the mighty. "The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning." The poor saints were once the tail, but at the day-break they shall be the head. Sinners rule till night-fall; their honours wither in the evening, and in the morning they find their position utterly reversed. The sweetest reflection to the upright is that "the morning" here intended begins an endless, changeless, day. What a vexation of spirit to the proud worldling, when the Judge of all the earth holds his morning session, to see the man whom he despised, exalted high in heaven, while he himself is cast away! "And their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling." Whatever of glory the ungodly had shall disappear in the tomb. Form and comeliness shall vanish from them, the worm shall make sad havoc of all their beauty. Even their last dwelling place, the grave, shall not be able to protect the relics committed to it; their bodies shall dissolve, no trace shall remain of all their strong limbs and lofty heads, no vestige of remaining beauty shall be discoverable. The beauty of the righteous is not yet revealed, it waits its manifestations; but all the beauty the wicked will ever have is in full bloom in this life; it will wither, fade, decay, rot, and utterly pass away. Who, then, would envy or fear the proud sinner?
"But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave." Forth from that temporary resting-place we shall come in due time, quickened by divine energy. Like our risen Head we cannot be holden by the bands of the grave; redemption has emancipated us from the slavery of death. No redemption could man find in riches, but God has found it in the blood of his dear Son. Our Elder Brother has given to God a ransom, and we are the redeemed of the Lord: because of this redemption by price we shall assuredly be redeemed by power out of the hand of the last enemy. "For he shall receive me." He shall take me out of the tomb, take me up to heaven. If it is not said of me as of Enoch, "He was not, for God took him," yet shall I reach the same glorious state. My spirit God will receive, and my body shall sleep in Jesus till, being raised in his image, it shall also be received into glory. How infinitely superior is such a hope to anything which our oppressors can boast! Here is something which will bear meditation, and therefore again let us pause, at the bidding of the musician, who inserts a "Selah."
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. Like sheep—(compare Ps 49:12) unwittingly, they
are laid—or, "put," &c.
death shall feed on—or, better, "shall rule"
them—as a shepherd (compare "feed," Ps 28:9, Margin).
have dominion over—or, "subdue"
them in the morning—suddenly, or in their turn.
their beauty—literally, "form" or shape.
shall consume—literally, "is for the consumption," that is, of the grave.
from their dwelling—literally, "from their home (they go) to it," that is, the grave.
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