Psalm 49

The Word Made Fresh

(For the worship leader: a psalm of the sons of Korah.)

1Listen, all you people.
All of you who live in this world, pay attention –
2low-born and privileged, rich and poor together.
3From my heart I am going to share my wisdom,
and things that I have come to understand.
4I will listen first to a wise saying,
and then resolve questions as the harp makes music.
5I have no reason to be afraid when trouble comes,
when I am surrounded by the evil intent of my persecutors
6who put their trust in wealth
and boast of their many riches.
7No one can redeem the life of another –
you can’t buy it from God at any price.
8The price for a life is too high
and can never be enough
9to make anyone live forever
and never go to the grave.
10Look at those who are wise: they die.
Look at the fools and the idiots: they die, too,
and everything they own goes to someone else.
11Their graves will be their eternal resting place,
even though their lands bore their names.
12Mortals can’t live forever, no matter how pompous.
Their fate is no different from that of the animals.
13And that is the fate of those who are foolish, and
also the end of those who are pleased with their lot in life.
14They are sent off to the grave like sheep,
with Death as their shepherd. Straight to the grave they go.
Their bodies will decay, and the grave will be their home.
15But God will buy my life back from the power of the grave,
and will come to my rescue.
16Don’t worry about people who become filthy rich,
whose wealth continues to grow.
17When they die they’ll leave it all behind.
Their riches won’t go with them.
18While they live they’ll be happy.
After all, people will praise you when you do well.
19But they will join their ancestors
and never again see the light of day.
20Human beings cannot live forever in their great accomplishments.
They are no different from the animals that perish.


Superscription: the 7th Korahite psalm.

1-4: The opening lines identify this as a wisdom, or teaching, psalm.

5-9: There is no need to fear when times are hard and others who trust wealth more than God seem to be doing well. No amount of wealth can make one live forever.

10-12: Everybody dies.

13-15: The psalmist finds consolation in death, however. He believes that the righteous will be given a better lot after death than the wicked.

16-20: Therefore, there is no cause for fear or concern when others are getting rich. Wealth is a fleeting situation at best.


Riches and success are not the recipe for life after death. Faith is.