|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
49:15-20 Believers should not fear death. The distinction of men's outward conditions, how great soever in life, makes none at death; but the difference of men's spiritual states, though in this life it may seem of small account, yet at and after death is very great. The soul is often put for the life. The God of life, who was its Creator at first, can and will be its Redeemer at last. It includes the salvation of the soul from eternal ruin. Believers will be under strong temptation to envy the prosperity of sinners. Men will praise thee, and cry thee up, as having done well for thyself in raising an estate and family. But what will it avail to be approved of men, if God condemn us? Those that are rich in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, have something of which death cannot strip them, nay, which death will improve; but as for worldly possessions, as we brought nothing into the world, so it is certain that we shall carry nothing out; we must leave all to others. The sum of the whole matter is, that it can profit a man nothing to gain the whole world, to become possessed of all its wealth and all its power, if he lose his own soul, and is cast away for want of that holy and heavenly wisdom which distinguishes man from the brutes, in his life and at his death. And are there men who can prefer the lot of the rich sinner to that of poor Lazarus, in life and death, and to eternity? Assuredly there are. What need then we have of the teaching of the Holy Ghost; when, with all our boasted powers, we are prone to such folly in the most important of all concerns!
Verse 17. - For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away. Nothing in the way of earthly possessions - nothing but the qualities which he has imprinted on his soul, and made part and parcel of himself. The heathen nations, foolishly, were accustomed to bury clothes, and arms, and vessels, and stores of gold with the departed, as though they could take these with them into the other world (see the author's 'Herodotus,' vol. 3. pp. 59-62, end notes 9, 1, 2). The writer of the psalm, and those whom he addressed, were equally aware of the foolishness of such customs. His glory shall not descend after him. Whatever "glory" his wealth has secured to him in this life shall be left behind. He shall be imprisoned in Sheol, with death to shepherd him (ver. 14), and with no hope of returning to the "light" (ver. 19).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away,.... Such men, with all their riches and honour, must die; therefore why should men be afraid of them? or wherein are they to be accounted of, whose breath is in their nostrils? nor can they carry either of them with them; their riches will be of no profit to them after death, when they will be upon a level with the poor, who will have nothing to fear from them; see 1 Timothy 6:7;
his glory shall not descend after him; either into the grave, the pit of corruption, the lower part of the earth, where kings, princes, counsellors, and peasants, are all alike, Job 3:14; or into hell, where are no titles of honour, nor respect of persons; no Pharaoh king of Egypt, or Sennacherib king of Assyria, there; but plain Pharaoh, &c. see Ezekiel 32:31.
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