Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all inhabitants of the world,
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 -
II. THERE ARE FIXED CONDITIONS ON WHICH THIS WEALTH IS POSSESSED. These are here specified as fourfold.
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.
III. YET ITS POSSESSORS CHERISH MANIFOLD DELUSIONS.
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).
IV. FOR SUCH THERE IS BUT A DISMAL OUTLOOK.
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.
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.)
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."
III. THE RESULT WAS BENEFICIAL.
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.)
PeopleAsaph, Korah, Psalmist
TopicsAlamoth, Attention, Chief, Choirmaster, Ear, Ears, Gt, Inhabitants, Korah, Leader, Listen, Lt, Music, Musician, Music-maker, Open, Overseer, Peoples, Psalm, Sons
Outline1. An earnest persuasion to build the faith of resurrection
16. Worldly prosperity is not to be admired
Dictionary of Bible ThemesPsalm 49:
LibraryTwo 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
The Lapse of Time.
The Care of the Soul Urged as the one Thing Needful
The Three Parables of Warning: to the Individual, to the Nation, and to the Theocracy - the Foolish Rich Man - the Barren Fig-Tree - The
Sense in Which, and End for which all Things were Delivered to the Incarnate Son.
Notes on the Second Century
The Kinsman Redeemer
Out of the Deep of Doubt, Darkness, and Hell.
The Christian Business World
Some Helps to Mourning
"Boast not Thyself of To-Morrow, for Thou Knowest not what a Day May Bring Forth. "
Letter Xlvi (Circa A. D. 1125) to Guigues, the Prior, and to the Other Monks of the Grand Chartreuse
The Covenant of Works
Question Lxxxi of the virtue of Religion
The Resemblance Between the Old Testament and the New.
The Greatness of the Soul,
The Resurrection of the Dead, and Eternal Judgment:
Notes on the Third Century
Appendix ix. List of Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied in Ancient Rabbinic Writings
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