Nothing we can gain in this world remains for the next, but we have an enduring treasure in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

We’ve all delighted in new things—new things that ultimately God has gifted to us. But our delight in new things quickly fades. New becomes old. The universal, unescapable truth is that nothing stays new—not things, people, or relationships. Psalm 49 addresses this readily apparent yet rarely apprehended truth.

This is a wisdom psalm that addresses an aspect of skillful living now. The purpose is to align the feet of men to the path of God. This psalm explores the questions: Is it worth not putting my trust in riches? And is it worth putting my trust in God?

While the riches of a man seem intimidatingly impressive, a humble and wise man trusts God to sustain his life forever.

A Universal Appeal (Psalm 49:1-5)

All people are called to pay attention, with no exceptions. All classes and people have the same problem. Wealth often reveals that people trust in themselves. We tend to dismiss general problems, thinking they don't apply to us; but the psalmist personalizes this problem too. He is walking on God's path where riches are inconsequential, but when he looks around, he sees others accumulating power and possessions. Their abundant prosperity is overwhelming and intimidating. He wonders if his path is worth it. His faith is at odds with his sight and emotions.

The trouble of this psalm is not the violence of men but the veneer of success. The veneer of wealth and power is deceptive, shallow, and fake because it will not last. The psalmist chooses to focus not on the present "day of adversity" but on a time to come when all adversity will cease. This is the seat of wisdom.

Unexpected Adversity (Psalm 49:5-13)

Wealth and power are the observable externals, the symptoms of the problem. They reveal the heart of the person who possesses them. The problem is demonstrated by the fact that all people die and leave their wealth to others. Despite this universal fact, those who trust in wealth still trust and boast in their riches, revealing their baseless pride and self-confidence. They think that a legacy attached to their name after they die will be rewarding to them in the grave. They grossly miscalculate wealth’s ability; it cannot redeem or secure a soul for eternity. We can never become our own deliverer.

The Ultimate Answer (Psalm 49:14-20)

Man cannot trust in riches and himself; rather, man must trust in the one who owns those riches. That is where we find the ultimate answer.

Verse 13 describes all those who are on the wrong path. This is the pathway of those who trust in wealth and power, who wear the veneer of pride in themselves. The warning for those with their self-made answer is threefold. Their future place is Sheol; their guide is Death; and their existence will be restlessness and being consumed.

In contrast, the hope for those who trust in God is threefold. They have a future place of redemption. Their guide is God Himself who has power over Sheol. If God is more powerful than the place where death reigns, then He is more powerful than death itself! Their future existence is to be received by God.

In conclusion, the psalmist exhorts himself and us not to be afraid when others become rich, because temporal glory will not last. Those who walk in human pride without understanding, not on the way of wisdom, are like the beasts that perish (verse 12 and 20). The psalmist specifies that it is not every man that will not endure, but the man without understanding who will perish. Those who heed wisdom will not be like the beasts that perish, but will endure.

A humble and wise man trusts in God to sustain his life forever. In the light of eternity, what an enduring treasure we have in our relationship with Jesus Christ! It truly is worth trusting Him to redeem your soul.

Application Points

  • What do you do when your faith is at odds with your sight and emotions? Run to the truth of God's Word! Ask God for His eternal perspective on what really matters.
  • Psalm 49 reminds us that these present days are filled with things and thinking that will not matter in the future days. Now are the days of adversity, but there will be a day where all adversity ceases! Your affections and wants are not meant to be satisfied in the things of today. Like the psalmist, we are meant to be plucked out of this world into another!
  • What pathway are you on? Do you trust in wealth, power, or your own ability? These things will not help you in eternity; only trusting Jesus will. Don't be distracted by the veneer of power and success that will not last.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Luke 16:19-31, Matthew 27:52-53, Revelation 20:14 – Jesus' explanation of Sheol and its ultimate result