1 Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:
2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.
3 My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.
4 I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.
Dacd first acknowledges that this word is for all the nations,not just Israel. Previous Psalms have mostly been addressed to Israel if any nation is mentioned. Of course, as Christians we know that the Word is timeless and has life applications for us today, not matter when it is written. David tells them He is going to share wisdom and understanding with them, and it doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor, or of low esteem or high, this word would apply to them.
I sometimes think this psalm is prophetic in verse 4. He talks about teaching in parables, and Jesus taught in parables throughout His ministry. I don’t see David too often speaking in parables. Jesus spoke in parables so the common person would better understand His message. I love pastors who can speak in parables – today we often call it storytelling instead. They take everyday situations and bring a lesson from it that can help us grow in our faith. This is something I strive to be better at.
5 Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?
6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;
7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:
8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)
9 That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.
He asks again why he should fear those that are coming against Him. They trust inn their riches and possessions on this earth. But those things will never save their family or ransom them from their sin. They think they will live forever and not see corruption.
Are you trusting your riches of possessions or good deeds will get you eternal life in heaven? Do you think your family will be saved because you will pass these things on? They may be helped along on this earth, but the future will still be in doubt, as is yours. Read on.
10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
12 Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.
13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.
14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
David now explains the folly of the thinking of those rich, prosperous men in the previous section. This man sees other like him die and then says to himself that his lands and houses will surly survive after him. But he is going to die nonetheless, like a sheep which never has any earthly possessions. He says death shall feed on them and their beauty shall be consumed.
Here, David begins to paint quite a picture of hell, a picture which Jesus finishes in His preaching. First, he says death shall feed on them. In Matthew 9:47-48, Jesus says the worm will eat them in hell. Second, he says heir beauty shall be consumed. In the same verses, Jesus says the fire is not quenched. We also know that hell is a place of utter darkness. Imagined having worms eating you and fire burning you that you cannot see. I know hell is a place I do not want to go for any reason. Do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are headed to heaven? There is only one way.
The Bible teaches that no one does good – no one (Psalms 14:3, Rom 3:12), and that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Then it says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). We are told that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus (Rom 6:23). Then the promise that if we confess Jesus with our mouth, and believe in our heart God raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved (Rom 10:9-10). If we confess our sins, He will forgive their sins and cleanse us (1 John 1:9). Jesus even said no one can go to God except through Him (John 14:6)
16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory in his house is increased;
17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.
18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.
19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.
20 Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.
So we do not need to worry when someone is made rich and their family is honored. Death will take him just like it does us, only he will go to a place we don’t want to go if he does not have Jesus in his life. Jesus talked about a comparison of a rich and poor man in a story (Luke 16:19-31). If you’re not familiar with it, it’s worth the read now. We need to stand firm in our faith and remember that life on this earth is just a vapor in the scheme of eternity, and eternal life in Christ is our goal while on this earth.