|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 20. - Man that is in honour, and under. standeth not, is like the beasts that perish. In ver. 12 the writer had said of all men, that they are "like the beasts that perish," which is true in one sense; i.e. in reference to this life. Now, having taken a loftier flight, and embraced in his mental vision the whole life of man, he makes an important qualification of what he had said. All men die; but only those who are "without understanding" die without hope - "like the beasts:" for others there remains the hope enunciated in ver. 15.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Man that is in honour,.... A wicked man, as the Targum; See Gill on Psalm 49:12;
and understandeth not; from whence his riches and honour, come, and what use he should make of them, and for what end he has them; or that understandeth not spiritual things, which relate to the salvation of his soul; who does not know God in Christ, nor the way of salvation by Christ; nor has any experience of the work of the Spirit of God upon his soul; nor has any spiritual understanding of the doctrines of the Gospel; nor knows himself, his state and condition, and what true happiness is:
is like the beasts that perish; See Gill on Psalm 49:12.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. (Compare Ps 49:12). The folly is more distinctly expressed by "understandeth not," substituted for "abideth not."
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