Psalm 49:10 When we look at the wise, they die; fool and dolt perish together and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they named lands their own. 12 Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like the animals that perish. 13 Such is the fate of the foolhardy, the end of those who are pleased with their lot. 14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; straight to the grave they descend, and their form shall waste away; Sheol shall be their home. 15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. 16 Do not be afraid when some become rich, when the wealth of their houses increases. 17 For when they die they will carry nothing away; their wealth will not go down after them. 18 Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy —for you are praised when you do well for yourself— 19 they will go to the company of their ancestors, who will never again see the light. 20 Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like the animals that perish.
Here’s a bit of a reality check, huh? Note, the psalmist is not suggesting there’s something wrong with having material abundance. He’s just reminding us what ultimately happens with all our stuff. It gets left behind. Verses 12 and 20 repeat the same sentence as something of a refrain,
“Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like animals that perish.”
We may spend a lifetime building up impressive outward appearances – our “pomp” – but like animals we die and turn to dust. Why is the psalmist writing about this? Then, as now, it was easy for prosperous people to begin walking away from the ways of God, the God who blessed the people with abundance in the first place. There are a few obvious signs this may be a problem:
- Neglecting to keep the Sabbath (a day without work of any kind devoted to God)
- Refusing to return a tithe (10%) of our income to the Lord
- Cutting corners, even in small ways, to eke out a better bottom line
- Treating people as a commodity to be used rather than persons to be respected
- I could go on, but I think you get the idea…
Too often one or more of these describes me. And, if I’m honest, I rationalize my poor behavior by telling myself this is just how things are done today. Rather than choosing to be among a people set apart, I go along with the rest of culture – in defiance of the ways of God designed to give us life. Kyrie eleison (Christ have mercy).
Lord Jesus, we are experts at self-deception. We can justify just about anything with minimal effort, yet when we reject the ways of the Father we are the ones diminished. Give us grace to seek first the Kingdom of God, which is ultimately the only thing that lasts. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.