Psalm 49:6
They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) They thati.e., the rogues implied in the last verse.

Psalm 49:6-9. They, &c. — The psalmist, having said that good men had no sufficient cause of fear on account of what they might suffer from ungodly men, now proceeds to show that the ungodly had no reason to be secure because of their riches. That trust in their wealth — As that which can secure them from calamities. None of them can redeem — Either from the first or second death; his brother — Whom he would do his utmost to preserve, nor consequently himself; nor give to God — The only Lord of life, and the Judge who passes on him the sentence of death; a ransom for him — Hebrew, כפרו, cophro, his expiation, or, the price of his redemption, namely, from death. For the redemption of their soul — Of their life; is precious — Costly, hard to be obtained. And it ceaseth for ever — It is never to be accomplished by any mere man, for himself or for his brother. That he should live for ever — That he should be excused from dying; and not see corruption — Or, the pit, or the grave. These last four verses are well translated by Mudge, thus: “They that trust in their substance, and boast in the abundance of their riches; not one can, in truth, redeem his brother, nor give to God his ransom; (for the ransom of their life is of too high a value, and he is extinct for ever;) so that he should live on continually, and not see the pit.”

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.They that trust in their wealth - The first reason why there was no cause of alarm is drawn Psalm 49:6-10 from the "powerlessness" of wealth, as illustrated by the fact that it can do nothing to save life or to prevent death. He refers to those who possess it as "trusting" in their wealth, or "relying on" that as the source of their power.

And boast themselves - Pride themselves; or feel conscious of safety and strength because they are rich. It is the "power" which wealth is supposed to confer, that is alluded to here.

In the multitude of their riches - The abundance of their wealth.

6. They are vainglorious. As that which can and will secure them from God’s judgments, and from the calamities of human life. The psalmist having said that he and other good men had no sufficient cause of fear from their present sufferings from ungodly men, now he proceeds, on the contrary, to show that his ungodly enemies had no reason to be secure and confident because of their present riches and prosperous success.

They that trust in their wealth,.... In their outward force, power, and strength; their horses, chariots, and armies; see Psalm 33:16; or in their worldly goods and substance; which seems to be the sense of the word here, as appears from Psalm 49:10. To "trust" in them is to set the eye and heart upon them; or to take up rest in them, to depend on them, to the neglect of divine Providence, with respect to future living in this world; and to expect eternal happiness hereafter, because favoured with many earthly enjoyments here: so to do is evil. Therefore the Targum is, "woe to the wicked that trust in their substance". And it is also very weak and foolish to trust in riches, since they are uncertain, are here today, and gone tomorrow; and are unsatisfying, he that has much would still have more: nor can they deliver from evil, from present judgments, from the sword, the pestilence, and famine; nor from death, nor from the future judgment, and wrath to come; and are often injurious to the spiritual and eternal welfare of men; see 1 Timothy 6:9;

and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; of their acquisition of them by their own diligence and industry; and of their having them because of some peculiar virtue and excellency in themselves; and of the abundance of them. Such rejoicing and boasting is evil; since riches are the gifts of God, the blessings of his Providence; and are often bestowed on persons neither wise nor diligent, and much less deserving; see Jeremiah 9:23. The whole may be applied to the Romish antichrist and his followers, who trust in and boast of their temporal riches, which in one hour will come to nought, Revelation 18:7; and of the treasure of the church, of merit; and works of supererogation; with all which they cannot redeem one soul from ruin and destruction, as follows:

They that trust in their {c} wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

(c) To trust in riches is madness, seeing they can neither restore life, nor prolong it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 6. - They that trust in their wealth; rather, even of them that trust in their wealth. The sense runs on from the preceding verse (so Hengstenberg and Professor Cheyne). And boast themselves in the multitude of their riches. Such men are always persecutors of the righteous. They are worldly, carnal, godless. Psalm 49:6(Heb.: 49:6-13) First division of the sermon. Those who have to endure suffering from rich sinners have no need to fear, for the might and splendour of their oppressors is hastening towards destruction. ימי רע are days in which one experiences evil, as in Psalm 94:13, cf. Amos 6:3. The genitive r` is continued in Amos 6:6 in a clause that is subordinate to the בימי of Psalm 49:6 (cf. 1 Samuel 25:15; Job 29:2; Psalm 90:15). The poet calls his crafty and malicious foes עקבי. There is no necessity for reading עקבי as Bttcher does, since without doubt a participial noun עקב, supplantator, can be formed from עקב, supplantare; and although in its branchings out it coincides with עקב, planta, its meaning is made secure by the connection. To render the passage: "when wickedness surrounds me about my heels," whether with or without changing עון into עון (Hupfeld, von Ortenberg), is proved on all sides to be inadmissible: it ought to have been עול instead of עון; but even then it would still be an awkward expression, "to surround any one's heels,"

(Note: This might be avoided if it were possible for עון עקבי to mean "the sin that follows my heels, that follows me at the heels;" but apart from עון being unsuitable with this interpretation, an impossible meaning is thereby extorted from the genitive construction. This, however, is perhaps what is meant by the expression of the lxx, ἡ ἀνομία τῆς πτέρνης μου, so much spoken of in the Greek Church down to the present day.)

and the הבּטחים, which follows, would be unconnected with what precedes. This last word comes after עקבי, giving minuteness to the description, and is then continued quite regularly in Psalm 49:7 by the finite verb. Up to this point all is clear enough; but now the difficulties accumulate. One naturally expects the thought, that the rich man is not able to redeem himself from death. Instead of this it is said, that no man is able to redeem another from death. Ewald, Bttcher, and others, therefore, take אח, as in Ezekiel 18:10; Ezekiel 21:20 (vid., Hitzig), to be a careless form of writing for אך, and change יפדּה into the reflexive יפּדה; but the thought that is sought thus to be brought to is only then arrived at with great difficulty: the words ought to be אך אישׁ לא יפדּה נפשׁו. The words as they stand assert: a brother (אח, as a prominently placed object, with Rebia magnum, equals אהיו, cf. Ezekiel 5:10; Ezekiel 18:18; Micah 7:6; Malachi 1:6) can a man by no means redeem, i.e., men cannot redeem one another. Hengstenberg and Hitzig find the thought that is to be expected in Psalm 49:8: the rich ungodly man can with all his riches not even redeem another (אח), much less then can he redeem himself, offer a כּפר for himself. But if the poet meant to be so understood, he must have written ולא and כּפר נפשׁו. Psalm 49:8 and Psalm 49:8 bear no appearance of referring to different persons; the second clause is, on the contrary, the necessary supplement of the first: Among men certainly it is possible under some circumstances for one who is delivered over to death to be freed by money, but no כּפר ( equals פּדיון נפשׁ, Exodus 21:30 and frequently) can be given to God (לאלהים).

All idea of the thought one would most naturally look for must therefore be given up, so far as it can be made clear why the poet has given no direct expression to it. And this can be done. The thought of a man's redeeming himself is far from the poet's mind; and the contrast which he has before his mind is this: no man can redeem another, Elohim only can redeem man. That one of his fellow-men cannot redeem a man, is expressed as strongly as possible by the words לא־פדה יפדּה; the negative in other instances stands after the intensive infinitive, but here, as in Genesis 3:4; Amos 9:8; Isaiah 28:28, before it. By an easy flight of irony, Psalm 49:9 says that the lu'tron which is required to be paid for the souls of men is too precious, i.e., exorbitant, or such as cannot be found, and that he (whoever might wish to lay it down) lets it alone (is obliged to let it alone) for ever Thus much is clear enough, so far as the language is concerned (וחדל according to the consec. temp. equals ויחדּל), and, although somewhat fully expressed, is perfectly in accordance with the connection. But how is Psalm 49:10 attached to what precedes? Hengstenberg renders it, "he must for ever give it up, that he should live continually and not see the grave." But according to the syntax, ויהי cannot be attached to וחדל, but only to the futures in Psalm 49:8, ranking with which the voluntative ויחי, ut vivat (Ew. 347, a). Thus, therefore, nothing remains but to take Psalm 49:9 (which von Ortenberg expunges as a gloss upon Psalm 49:8) as a parenthesis; the principal clause affirms that no man can give to God a ransom that shall protect another against death, so that this other should still continue (עוד) to live, and that without end (לנצח), without seeing the grave, i.e., without being obliged to go down into the grave. The כּי in Psalm 49:11 is now confirmatory of what is denied by its opposite; it is, therefore, according to the sense, imo (cf. 1 Kings 21:15): ...that he may not see the grave - no indeed, without being able to interpose and alter it, he must see how all men, without distinction, succumb to death. Designedly the word used of the death of wise men is מוּת, and of the death of the fool and the stupid man, אבד. Kurtz renders: "together with the fool and the slow of understanding;"; but יחד as a proposition cannot be supported; moreover, ועזבוּ would then have "the wise" as its subject, which is surely not the intention of the poet. Everything without distinction, and in mingled confusion, falls a prey to death; the rich man must see it, and yet he is at the same time possessed by the foolish delusion that he, with his wealth, is immortal.

The reading קברם (lxx, Targ., Syr.), preferred by Ewald, and the conjecture קברם, adopted by Olshausen and Riehm, give a thought that is not altogether contrary to the connection, viz., the narrow grave is the eternal habitation of those who called broad lands their own; but this thought appears here, in view of Psalm 49:12, too early. קרב denotes the inward part, or that which is within, described according to that which encircles or contains it: that which is within them is, "their houses (pronounce bāttēmo) are for ever" (Hengstenberg, Hitzig); i.e., the contents of their inward part is the self-delusion that their houses are everlasting, and their habitations so durable that one generation after another will pass over them; cf. the similar style of expression in Psalm 10:4, Esther 5:7. Hitzig further renders: men celebrate their names in the lands; קרא בשׁם, to call with a name equals solemnly to proclaim it, to mention any one's name with honour (Isaiah 44:5). But it is unlikely that the subject of קראוּ should now again be any other than the rich men themselves; and עלי אדמות for בּכל־הארץ or בּארצות is contrary to the usage of the language. אדמה is the earth as tillage, אדמות (only in this passage) in this connection, fields, estates, lands; the proclaiming of names is, according to 2 Samuel 12:28; 1 Kings 8:43; Amos 9:12, equivalent to the calling of the lands or estates after their (the possessors') names (Bצttcher, Hupfeld, Kurtz). The idea of the rich is, their houses and dwelling-places (and they themselves who have grown up together with them) are of eternal duration; accordingly they solemnly give their own names to their lands, as being the names of immortals. But, adds the poet, man בּיקר, in the pomp of his riches and outward show, abideth not (non pernoctat equals non permanet). ביקר is the complement of the subject, although it logically (cf. Psalm 45:13) also belongs to בּל־ילין. Bttcher has shown the impropriety of reading בּל־יבין here according to Psalm 49:20. There are other instances also of refrains that are not exact repetitions; and this correction is moreover at once overthrown by the fact that בל will not suit יבין, it would stamp each man of rank, as such, as one deficient in intelligence. On the other hand, this emotional negative בל is admirably suitable to ילין: no indeed, he has no abiding. He is compared (נמשׁל like the New Testament ὡμοιώθη), of like kind and lot, to cattle (כּ as in Job 30:19). נדמוּ is an attributive clause to כּבּהמות: like heads of cattle which are cut off or destroyed. The verb is so chosen that it is appropriate at the same time to men who are likened to the beasts (Hosea 10:7, Hosea 10:15, Obadiah 1:5, Isaiah 6:5).

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