1 For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, 2 both low and high, rich and poor alike: 3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding. 4 I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle:
5 Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me—6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? 7 No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him— 8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough— 9 that he should live on for ever and not see decay. 10 For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their tombs will remain their houses for ever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves. 12 But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Selah 14 Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Selah
16 Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendour of his house increases; 17 for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendour will not descend with him. 18 Though while he lived he counted himself blessed—and men praise you when you prosper— 19 he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life. 20 A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
I cannot take it with me
(Verses 1-4) This psalm is for everyone, everywhere. Each person needs to ‘listen’ – it is too late after death. No matter what your social or financial state, this is for you. Here we see God’s wisdom applied. The psalmist teaches this proverb in song.
(Verse 5) Here is his ‘proverb’ or ‘riddle’. Why should he ‘fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround’ him? Make no mistake: evil days are here and will come. Many deceive by pushing their beliefs and desires. Most of it is arrogantly anti-God and anti-Bible. Do not let anyone steal the truth of God’s word from you, however ‘clever’ he or she appears to be.
(Verses 6-14) Especially deceiving is the constant emphasis that what you have is more important than what you are. The tarnished ‘god’ of today is materialism. It concentrates on how much money you have and what you are ‘worth’ when you look at all your possessions and incomes. There is no answer to Jesus’ question in Mark 8:36 ‘What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?’ Not all the world’s wealth can keep you out of eternal Hell. Only Jesus can do that. Neither can anyone rescue you because He is rich. How true it is that ‘the ransom for a life is costly’ – it cost Jesus His blood and life when He bore your sins and all God’s holy punishment against sin, so that you can escape it by turning from sin and asking Jesus to save and run your life His way. Wise and foolish, rich and poor, huge landowners and beggars need to trust Jesus, not more wealth to get to Heaven. They all will die, like sheep – but eternity awaits the souls of men and women. Wealth is not wrong, if used properly, but it cannot change your Hell to Heaven.
(Verse 15) The psalmist knows God will take him to be with Him in Glory after death. You can know that: trust in Jesus!
(Verses 16-20) So make sure you know Jesus Christ personally. Do not envy a man who is rich: he leaves it behind when he dies – then what if he has not come to Christ? Men admire other rich men. God simply asks – do you know My Son as your Saviour?