PSALM 49 — The Foolishness of Trusting in Wrong Things
Everybody needs to hear the message of trusting in the wrong things, regardless of what country, people group or
position in society you hold, or whether you are rich or poor. What we need is God’s wisdom in understanding how
to handle the wealth of this world and in particular the wealth that we possess ourselves. The Sons of Korah give us
three good reasons as to why we need to be wise in how we handle wealth as individuals and as a nation.
Firstly, wealth can not keep us from death as we see in verses 5-12. What we need to understand here fi rst and
foremost is that wealth can often give us a false security. Being well off as a nation or as an individual can give us
this false sense of security that everything is going well. By the way, sometimes people have this impression that in
a country like Australia they are not wealthy, but you need to realise that having a meal once a day, a roof over your
head and $5 in your pocket puts you in the top 2% of the world. We need to understand that we live in a wealthy
country and with that can come the danger of feeling very secure.
We can also feel that we are not accountable. As we have the things we need we can become self suffi cient and
thus we don’t feel we need to be answerable to anyone. Also we see that wealth can bring corruption. We see this
so often in leadership, particularly in governments, where monies are misappropriated etc. Then secondly we need
to recognise that wealth cannot purchase immortality. Look at verse 8 where the Psalmist says the redemption of
their souls is costly and it shall cease forever. What one has to see here is that our souls have been redeemed by the
precious blood of the Lord Jesus and not by the acquisition of wealth. We need to see that our redemption is not
achieved, but received by faith. We need to recognise that redemption is not purchased individually or corporately.
An example of this is where some religions indicate we can offer up a sum of money for the redemption of a family
member’s soul. We need to recognise that genuine redemption is costly because Jesus gave His life as a ransom for
many (Mark 10:45) and that He did it willingly, and that He did it free of charge and that He did it for the joy that
was set before Him.
We also need to see that redemption is the only way to deal with the tyranny of death and sin. True spiritual
wealth cannot be transferred as we see in verses 10-11 where it says For he sees wise men die, likewise the foolish
and senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever,
their dwelling places to all generations. The idea of course here is of the foolish person who has not trusted in the
Lord; who thinks that their wealth will in some way buy them the redemption of their family line. Sadly for many,
what they discover is that their family line quickly fritters away the wealth that has taken a person’s life time to
acquire. What we need to see then is that wealth does not remain. Often wealth can be here one moment and gone
the next as we see with the stock market in recent days.
Secondly, we need to see that wealth can not determine our destiny, verses 13-15. What we have to see here
is that some people think that wealth is something that will acquire them a certain position in eternity. The Psalmist
indicates that such thinking is foolish. We read in Psalm 14:1 and also Psalm 53:1 where it says the fool has said in
his heart, there is no God. When we trust in wealth and the accruing of things then in essence we are saying there
is no God. Ultimately the things we have and all our wealth becomes our god. The Psalmist here and elsewhere
throughout the Psalms is saying that indeed a person who thinks like this is very foolish indeed.
What the Psalmist then goes on to say is that people who trust in their wealth have a real reason to fear death.
The upright will fi nd they can stand with confi dence before the throne of Grace but those who have trusted in their
wealth will be consumed in their death. The problem is they fail to understand that only God can determine the
destiny of a soul so that we are acceptable in His sight. We experience the reality of this by faith in the fi nished
work of Calvary
Thirdly, wealth does not dictate our desires in verses 16-20. The sad thing for those of us who are not seen as
wealthy, for example having large sums of money or vast properties and the like, is that we can be marked by a spirit
of coveting. What that means is we can become envious of the people that have wealth, and maybe feel that somehow
or other we are less spiritual because we don’t. We do need to keep a right perspective on what wealth really is. Job
mentioned in chapter 1 and verse 21 of his book that he came into the world with nothing and that he would leave
with nothing. If we think that what we have defines us as a person then we are sadly lacking in our understanding
of what is really important in this life. Now that is not to say we don’t need money, home, vehicle or food but what
we are saying is that these things are only a means to an end and not an end in itself. Wealth is the temporary, here
today and gone tomorrow; while salvation is eternal. We are talking about forever here, and once we step over the
line and genuinely commit our lives to Christ then we are eternally in the hands of the living God.
One last point worth thinking about is that for those who know and love the Lord, wealth can be invested wisely
for eternity. People can use their wealth wisely with investments so they can give to their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria
or the outer parts of the world. Wealth can be invested so that, “tho they die yet shall they live”, their monies can be
longer used to expand the Kingdom of God.
Carl Carmody, Editor of Challenge