Psalm 49:1

The author and the date of this psalm are alike unknown. There are, however, matters concerning it of much more importance, which we do know. One of these is that the writer was a believer in God; and that while the dark problems of life perplexed him, as they do and have done so many others, he saw light above and beyond them. Another is that in this psalm we have the words of one who had "inclined his ear" to hear what the great Speaker would say unto him, and what he would have him write. He would not put pen to paper till he received the word from heaven. "Antequam ad alios loquar, prius devote audiam ipse Spiritum Sanctum intus me erudientem." "In the words, 'I will incline mine ear to a similitude,' it is plainly implied that the wisdom which the psalmist would communicate is no self-sprung possession, but one that has been acquired by him... he only brought forth what he had learned in the school of God" (Hengstenberg, in loc.). The theme of the psalm is suggested by the fact, so often observed, that much of the world's wealth is in the hands of the ungodly. Concerning it, "in Psalm 37. David, in Psalm 49. the sons of Korah, and in Psalm 73. Asaph, teach the same truth" (Fausset, p. 258). In dealing therewith we shall portion out the homiletic expositions in three distinct outlines. In this we deal with the darker side of the theme.

I. ONE OF LIFE'S MOST PERPLEXING FACTS IS THAT SO MUCH WEALTH SHOULD BE IN BAD HANDS. No observant man can fail to see many illustrations of this. The greatness assumed by the rich often overshadows humbler souls. It sets them wondering why God should let so many of his people struggle with poverty while many of the ungodly are rolling in wealth. And, to the eye of sense, it darkens the world's outlook when, while "money answereth all things," the great bulk of it should be possessed by the godless, the selfish, the oppressors, and the vile. The fact creates fear (ver. 5) in the evil day, since those who have the money-power, and are in a sense the lords of the world, use their power unrighteously. So much so that our Lord employs the striking epithet, "the mammon of unrighteousness ' (Luke xvh). Only one hint, indeed, is given, in the word "iniquity" (ver. 5), that these rich men are evil men. "But this seems to be designed, as m our Lord's parable of the rich man and Lazarus, to show that the selfish, proud, boastful use of riches, the mere luxuriousness of wealth, apart from violence or unscrupulousness of conduct, is evil, and finds its end in the outer darkness" But let us note -


1. Wealth cannot screen from death (vers. 7, 8, 12). There may be (Leviticus 25:47-55), according to the Law, redemption from poverty; but no brother has any ransom price wherewith to prevent death or to deliver from it. Then, it must be given up altogether.

2. After death the wealth cannot be controlled; it is left to others (ver. 10).

3. The departed one must see corruption (ver. 10).

4. He can carry nothing away (ver. 17; 1 Timothy 6:7). The "rich" one is "bankrupt" at the moment of death.


1. They trust in riches (ver. 6; Mark 10:24).

2. They boast of their wealth (ver. 6). Yet wealth can never ward off care or sickness.

3. They shut their eyes to their precarious holding of their wealth (ver. 11).

4. They even cherish "inward thoughts" of perpetuity (ver. 11).

5. They make special efforts to perpetuate their honour (vers. 11, 12).

6. They congratulate themselves on their greatness (ver. 18; Luke 12:19). And all the while they are "fools" in wisdom's eye (ver. 13).


1. Like the brutes, they will yet be reduced to silence (ver. 12). Their proud boasts will soon be stilled.

2. They will descend to Sheol; i.e. to the realm of the departed, Neither the word "Sheol" nor the word "Hades" contains per se any moral significance, nor does either word convey per se the notion of joy or sorrow. But the connection may give such significance to the words. Such is the case here and in Luke 16:23; in both the thought of evil and of sorrow is conveyed.

3. Death will shepherd them. They will be under him, for him to lead and feed them. What a shepherd - death!

4. Their flesh will consume away; their glory will be gone (vers. 14, 17, 19, 20). No light ahead!

5. In the great awakening, "in the morning " - the morning of the resurrection - the upright, whom they despised, shall have dominion over them (LXX., κατακυριεύσουσιν). The lordship was theirs during the night, because of their riches; in the morning that lordship will be transferred to the upright, because of their righteousness (Revelation 2:26, 27). Hence, note:

1. There is no reason to fear in the day of evil; for evil itself is in the restraint of infinite Power.

2. Where the world sees cleverness and riches, be it ours to see folly and poverty, if godliness be not also there! "The wicked is driven away in his wickedness." - C.

We have thought of Thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Thy temple.
Three points stand out distinctly in the text, all of which are closely connected.

I. THE MENTAL ART IS THOUGHT. "We have thought." It is you that think, not your body. But all mental acts are not thought. Memory, consciousness, sensations, emotions, are not thought, though they may be productive of it. Thought is judgment. We think when we analyze, compare, classify. Now, this faculty has certain properties, as —

1. Power; for it is the mightiest of all forces. The entire universe is the outcome of the thought of God.

2. Pleasantness, which rises at times to ecstasy. Pleasure is connected with the use of all our faculties, and not least with this of thought.

3. Universality. All can think. This is a thinking age, but it can never get beyond Jesus Christ, for He is the wisdom of God and the light of the world.

II. THE THEME OF THOUGHT — God's lovingkindness. Yes, perhaps, some of you say, a noble and inspiring subject of thought, truly. But is there not a prior question? Is it a fact that God exists and that He loves? We live in a perplexing world, and strange and bold theories are afloat. How shall we know that God is, and that He loves? Begin with the fact nearest you, and which you do not and cannot question — your own personal existence. Each of you can say, "I am." Equally certain is it you did not make yourself. You come from a source adequate to such a result, and that source we call God, by which word we mean one equal to such a workmanship as you are. And now, admitting you had a Creator, what is there in you that indicates His heart towards you? What is there that shows love? Look at yourself fairly, beginning with your body, and take part after part. Your eye; what would you have lost if born blind, and what have you gained by seeing? Your ear; what do you owe for that? Your hands; what have they done for you? Is speech worth having? Any benevolent meaning in putting your palate at the entrance of food into your body? — in protecting the drum of the ear? — in giving you a curtain for the eye? — in covering the brain with a helmet of bone? Work without sleep would bring on madness, and at night the curtain is drawn, and you get your needed rest. What as to yourself, viewed as distinct from this wonderful framework? You have consciousness, sensation, memory, judgment. Can any calculation adequately convey to you the value of these endowments? You have, moreover, a moral sense, a heart, a will. And for these moral capabilities and cravings there is an abundant response in the hearts around you, and the proofs of a supreme moral Ruler — proofs which remain such, whatever your disposition towards them, and your ignoring of their voice. Having studied this personal Bible — yourself, extend the same thoughts to your nearest of kin, your household, your neighbourhood, your nation, your race — think of mankind in all generations. Add to these data all other living beings that do and have existed from the beginning as far as your imagination can give them room, and then ask, Did all the good and enjoyment embraced within this whole come out of indifference, malevolence or love?

III. MATERIAL AID. We do not need the particular help which the ancient Jews had; but we can no more dispense with material appliances in our religious services than we can cease here to be clothed with flesh and be denizens of a material globe. We have God's own original temple — the house in which Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Christ worshipped, a house the marvellous Divine teachings of which science is every day unconsciously unfolding to the eye of faith — a house big enough and free enough to hold all men at all hours, without money and without price, a house in which we "all live, and move, and have our being." Here we can all think on the Divine love, and pray. Nor, whatever you may specifically and religiously do in things material, would we ever have you despise or neglect this really Divine temple with all its marvellous aids to religious thought. But, while doing that, you can and ought to do the other thing also. You ought, out of the stones and clay of this inexhaustible storehouse, go and make other buildings specially adapted to the purpose of religious thought and worship, and not only build them, but use them, and induce all you can to avail themselves of their help.

(J. C. Gallaway, M. A.)

Who were these people who declared to the Lord that they had thought of His lovingkindness in the midst of His temple? According to the title of the psalm, they were the sons of Korah — the singers in the house of the Lord. I think it is suggestive that they did not say, "We have sung of Thy lovingkindness." They had done that; but they said, "We have thought"; and there are some singers who have not done that, for they have sung solemn words thoughtlessly, caring only for the music, and not for the meaning.

I. THEIR OCCUPATION WAS GRACIOUS. "We have thought of Thy lovingkindness, O God."

1. Thought is a noble faculty; the power to exercise it distinguishes men from the brute beasts. We grovel when we are under necessity to perform the acts that relate only to the body; we rise as we are able to perform the functions of the mind and heart.

2. God's lovingkindness is a theme that is specially worthy of thought. It is an amazing thing that He should ever have so highly favoured such unworthy persons as we are, and favoured us so long, tenderly, and perseveringly.

3. Such thought as our text describes is essential to all true worship. It is very much in proportion to our thought that we do really worship. Suppose we sing the praises of God without thinking; is that praising Him? Nay, no more than if we could have taught a parrot, or constructed an automaton to make the same set of sounds.

4. This task of thinking of God's lovingkindness ought to be a very easy one, for there is abundance of material to think of in God's lovingkindness. I beg you to consider the various acts of Divine grace, all of which are full of the lovingkindness of the Lord — the everlasting covenant, personal election, redemption, effectual calling, adoption, sanctification, final perseverance.

II. THE PLACE WAS APPROPRIATE. "In the midst of Thy temple."

1. If we are in the midst of God's spiritual temple, His true Church, we may well think of His lovingkindness in permitting us to be there. Some of your old companions are not here; perhaps they even ridicule the idea of coming to such a place as this. Possibly some of your former associates are now where hope and mercy can never reach them.

2. Standing in the midst of that temple, which is the true Church of God, we cannot help thinking of the lovingkindness of the Lord, for every stone in that temple testifies to His lovingkindness. These are the living stones that are "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord."

3. We may also think of the lovingkindness of the Lord in the midst of His temple, because everything in that temple reminds us of His lovingkindness. There was, for instance, the altar of burnt offering; and we can say, "Thank God for the lovingkindness which has provided for us the one great atoning sacrifice by which our sin is for ever put away." There stood, too, the golden altar of incense; and every thoughtful believer says, "Thank God for the lovingkindness which has given us Christ to be our Intercessor before the throne of God on high, where His prevailing prayers are continually ascending on our behalf." There also stood the shew-bread upon the sacred table; and we say, "Thank God for Him who, as the Bread of life, is the ever-present and ever-satisfying food for His people." There, too, was the golden candlestick or lamp-stand; and we can say, "Thank God for His lovingkindness in having provided all-sufficient light for His people."


1. They were made joyous (ver. 11). So, think of the lovingkindness of the Lord to you, and see if that does not make melody in your heart unto Him, and cause the big bells in your soul to ring carillons of praise so full of jubilant gladness that your very body shall seem as if it could hardly bear the joy. I have sometimes seen an old church steeple rock and reel when a marriage peal has been run out from the ancient belfry; and, in like manner, at times, one has felt so happy that the poor physical frame seemed as if it could scarcely endure such excess of bliss as the soul was delighting in the lovingkindness of the Lord.

2. Thinking upon the lovingkindness of the Lord would unloose our tongues (vers. 12, 13). If you have really tasted of God's lovingkindness, you must tell others about it. You cannot keep as a secret the love of God to you. The first instinct of a new-born soul is to tell its joy to somebody else.

3. As we think of God's lovingkindness, we shall be confirmed in our loyalty to Him (ver. 14). "This God is our God;" He was our father's God, and our mother's God, and the God of the dear ones whom He took from us to be with Him in heaven; and "this is our God." He is the God to whom we looked in the day of our soul's distress, when we saw Him in Christ Jesus, reconciled unto us through the death of His Son; "this God is our God for ever and ever." He is the God who has heard our prayers, the God who has been with us in our direst extremity; He is the God on whom we have cast our unworthy selves, trusting Him with our souls, and our all, for this world and the world to come, "this God is our God for ever and ever."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Asaph, Korah, Psalmist
Alamoth, Attention, Chief, Choirmaster, Ear, Ears, Gt, Inhabitants, Korah, Leader, Listen, Lt, Music, Musician, Music-maker, Open, Overseer, Peoples, Psalm, Sons
1. An earnest persuasion to build the faith of resurrection
16. Worldly prosperity is not to be admired

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Psalm 49:

     5420   music

Psalm 49:1-4

     5481   proverb

Two Shepherds and Two Flocks
'Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them.' --PSALM xlix. 14. 'The Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall feed them.' --REV. vii. 17. These two verses have a much closer parallelism in expression than appears in our Authorised Version. If you turn to the Revised Version you will find that it rightly renders the former of my texts, 'Death shall be their shepherd,' and the latter, 'The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd.' The Old Testament
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Wesley's Hymns Reconsidered
Bernard Manning A paper read before the Cambridge University Methodist Society on February 9, 1939. SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, sometime Scholar of Jesus College in the University of Cambridge, once wrote some ingenious verses {Metrical Feet: Lesson for a Boy.} to help his sons to remember the chief sorts of metre. If Coleridge had been a Methodist instead of a pilgrim from Anglicanism to Unitarianism and back again, he would have needed to do no such thing: he would have needed only to advise his boys
Bernard L. Manning—The Hymns of Wesley and Watts: Five Papers

The Lapse of Time.
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."--Eccles. ix. 10. Solomon's advice that we should do whatever our hand findeth to do with our might, naturally directs our thoughts to that great work in which all others are included, which will outlive all other works, and for which alone we really are placed here below--the salvation of our souls. And the consideration of this great work,
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

The Care of the Soul Urged as the one Thing Needful
Luke 10:42 -- "But one thing is needful." It was the amiable character of our blessed Redeemer, that "he went about doing good," this great motive, which animated all his actions, brought him to the house of his friend Lazarus, at Bethany, and directed his behavior there. Though it was a season of recess from public labor, our Lord brought the sentiments and the pious cares of a preacher of righteousness into the parlor of a friend; and there his doctrine dropped as the rain, and distilled as the
George Whitefield—Selected Sermons of George Whitefield

The Three Parables of Warning: to the Individual, to the Nation, and to the Theocracy - the Foolish Rich Man - the Barren Fig-Tree - The
The three Parables, which successively follow in St. Luke's Gospel, may generally be designated as those of warning.' This holds specially true of the last two of them, which refer to the civil and the ecclesiastical polity of Israel. Each of the three Parables is set in an historical frame, having been spoken under circumstances which gave occasion for such illustration. 1. The Parable of the foolish rich man. [4439] It appears, that some one among them that listened to Jesus conceived the idea,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Sense in Which, and End for which all Things were Delivered to the Incarnate Son.
For whereas man sinned, and is fallen, and by his fall all things are in confusion: death prevailed from Adam to Moses (cf. Rom. v. 14), the earth was cursed, Hades was opened, Paradise shut, Heaven offended, man, lastly, corrupted and brutalised (cf. Ps. xlix. 12), while the devil was exulting against us;--then God, in His loving-kindness, not willing man made in His own image to perish, said, Whom shall I send, and who will go?' (Isa. vi. 8). But while all held their peace, the Son [441] said,
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

Notes on the Second Century
Page 94. Line 9. The Book of ---- The reference here is to the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon xiii. 1-5. Page 104. Med. 33. As originally written this Meditation commenced thus: Whether the sufferings of an. Angel would have been meritorious or no I will not dispute: but'---- And the following sentence, which comes after the first, has also been crossedout: So that it was an honour and no injury to be called to it: And so great an honour that it was an ornament to God himself, and an honour even to
Thomas Traherne—Centuries of Meditations

The Kinsman Redeemer
'After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him.'--LEV. xxv. 48. There are several of the institutions and precepts of the Mosaic legislation which, though not prophetic, nor typical, have yet remarkable correspondences with lofty Christian truth. They may be used as symbols, if only we remember that we are diverting them from their original purpose. How singularly these words lend themselves to the statement of the very central truths of Christianity--a slavery
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Out of the Deep of Doubt, Darkness, and Hell.
O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night unto Thee. Oh! let my prayer enter into Thy presence. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draweth nigh unto Hell. Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness, and in the deep.--Ps. lxxxviii. 1, 2. If I go down to Hell, Thou art there also. Yea, the darkness is no darkness with Thee; but the night is as clear as the day.--Ps. cxxxix. 7, 11. I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my calling.
Charles Kingsley—Out of the Deep

The Christian Business World
Scripture references: Proverbs 22:29; Romans 12:11; Psalms 24:1; 50:10-12; Haggai 2:8; Psalm 49:6,10,16,17; 62:10; Matthew 13:22; Mark 10:23,24; Job 31:24-26; Proverbs 3:9; Matthew 25:14-30; 24:45-51; 6:19-21; Luke 12:16-21. THE IDEAL IN THE BUSINESS WORLD There is often a wide difference between the methods actually employed in doing business and when they should be. Good men who are in the thick of the battle of competition and rivalry with other firms in the same line of trade, are the quickest
Henry T. Sell—Studies in the Life of the Christian

Adam's Sin
Q-15: WHAT WAS THE SIN WHEREBY OUR FIRST PARENTS FELL FROM THE ESTATE WHEREIN THEY WERE CREATED? A: That sin was eating the forbidden fruit. 'She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband.' Gen 3:3. Here is implied, 1. That our first parents fell from their estate of innocence. 2. The sin by which they fell, was eating the forbidden fruit. I. Our first parents fell from their glorious state of innocence. God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.' Eccl
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Some Helps to Mourning
Having removed the obstructions, let me in the last place propound some helps to holy mourning. 1 Set David's prospect continually before you. My sin is ever before me' (Psalm 51:3). David, that he might be a mourner, kept his eye full upon sin. See what sin is, and then tell me if there be not enough in it to draw forth tears. I know not what name to give it bad enough. One calls it the devil's excrement. Sin is a complication of all evils. It is the spirits of mischief distilled. Sin dishonours
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

"Boast not Thyself of To-Morrow, for Thou Knowest not what a Day May Bring Forth. "
Prov. xxvii. 1.--"Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." There are some peculiar gifts that God hath given to man in his first creation, and endued his nature with, beyond other living creatures, which being rightly ordered and improved towards the right objects, do advance the soul of man to a wonderful height of happiness, that no other sublunary creature is capable of. But by reason of man's fall into sin, these are quite disordered and turned out of
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Letter Xlvi (Circa A. D. 1125) to Guigues, the Prior, and to the Other Monks of the Grand Chartreuse
To Guigues, the Prior, And to the Other Monks of the Grand Chartreuse He discourses much and piously of the law of true and sincere charity, of its signs, its degrees, its effects, and of its perfection which is reserved for Heaven (Patria). Brother Bernard, of Clairvaux, wishes health eternal to the most reverend among fathers, and to the dearest among friends, Guigues, Prior of the Grande Chartreuse, and to the holy Monks who are with him. 1. I have received the letter of your Holiness as joyfully
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

The Covenant of Works
Q-12: I proceed to the next question, WHAT SPECIAL ACT OF PROVIDENCE DID GOD EXERCISE TOWARDS MAN IN THE ESTATE WHEREIN HE WAS CREATED? A: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge upon pain of death. For this, consult with Gen 2:16, 17: And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Question Lxxxi of the virtue of Religion
I. Does the Virtue of Religion Direct a Man To God Alone? S. Augustine, sermon, cccxxxiv. 3 " on Psalm lxxvi. 32 sermon, cccxi. 14-15 II. Is Religion a Virtue? III. Is Religion One Virtue? IV. Is Religion a Special Virtue Distinct From Others? V. Is Religion One of the Theological Virtues? VI. Is Religion To Be Preferred To the Other Moral Virtues? VII. Has Religion, Or Latria, Any External Acts? S. Augustine, of Care for the Dead, V. VIII. Is Religion the Same As Sanctity? Cardinal Cajetan,
St. Thomas Aquinas—On Prayer and The Contemplative Life

The Resemblance Between the Old Testament and the New.
1. Introduction, showing the necessity of proving the similarity of both dispensations in opposition to Servetus and the Anabaptists. 2. This similarity in general. Both covenants truly one, though differently administered. Three things in which they entirely agree. 3. First general similarity, or agreement--viz. that the Old Testament, equally with the New, extended its promises beyond the present life, and held out a sure hope of immortality. Reason for this resemblance. Objection answered. 4.
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Greatness of the Soul,
AND UNSPEAKABLENESS 0F THE LOSS THEREOF; WITH THE CAUSES OF THE LOSING IT. FIRST PREACHED AT PINNER'S HALL and now ENLARGED AND PUBLISHED FOR GOOD. By JOHN BUNYAN, London: Printed for Benjamin Alsop, at the Angel and Bible in the Poultry, 1682 Faithfully reprinted from the Author's First Edition. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. Our curiosity is naturally excited to discover what a poor, unlettered mechanic, whose book-learning had been limited to the contents of one volume, could by possibility know
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Judgment:
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Notes on the Third Century
Page 161. Line 1. He must be born again, &c. This is a compound citation from John iii. 3, and Mark x. 15, in the order named. Page 182. Line 17. For all things should work together, &c. See Romans viii. 28. Page 184. Lines 10-11. Being Satan is able, &c. 2 Corinthians xi. 14. Page 184. Last line. Like a sparrow, &c. Psalm cii. Page 187. Line 1. Mechanisms. This word is, in the original MS., mechanicismes.' Page 187. Line 7. Like the King's daughter, &c. Psalm xlv. 14. Page 188. Med. 39. The best
Thomas Traherne—Centuries of Meditations

Appendix ix. List of Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied in Ancient Rabbinic Writings
THE following list contains the passages in the Old Testament applied to the Messiah or to Messianic times in the most ancient Jewish writings. They amount in all to 456, thus distributed: 75 from the Pentateuch, 243 from the Prophets, and 138 from the Hagiorgrapha, and supported by more than 558 separate quotations from Rabbinic writings. Despite all labour care, it can scarcely be hoped that the list is quite complete, although, it is hoped, no important passage has been omitted. The Rabbinic references
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The piety of the Old Testament Church is reflected with more clearness and variety in the Psalter than in any other book of the Old Testament. It constitutes the response of the Church to the divine demands of prophecy, and, in a less degree, of law; or, rather, it expresses those emotions and aspirations of the universal heart which lie deeper than any formal demand. It is the speech of the soul face to face with God. Its words are as simple and unaffected as human words can be, for it is the genius
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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