Psalm 49: 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.
If you’ve raised teenagers, or worked closely with teenagers, you know they can tend to see every setback or obstacle as the end of the world. No date to the prom? Got a C on the big exam? Got wait-listed by your favorite college? Grounded for breaking curfew? It’s the end of the world! I think I’m gonna die!
I used to think this was ridiculous behavior, but then I was reminded that young people lack something very important – perspective. Perspective comes from enduring adversity and surviving the ordeal. Minor problems are a big deal to someone with little life experience.
This is the first thing that comes to mind for me in our psalm passage. It can be hard to struggle playing by the rules while dishonest people enjoy wealth, good health, and more. It can leave us discouraged or tempted to do things we should not do.
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.
Here our eternal God is trying to offer perspective. Yes, it’s true that sometimes good people struggle in this life while dishonest people prosper. But, taken in the context of eternity, a human life is but a tick of the clock. And when this “tick” is over, temporary injustices will be set right.
The second thing that comes to mind for me is the possibility that I may be counted among the “bad” people. I’m not rich, but I mess up a lot people. I try, and fail, to live up to the will and ways of God. Left to myself, and my track record, I’m in big trouble. My sin is ever before me.
But thanks be to God, for Jesus’ sake, God forgives my sins. My brokenness and shortcomings are washed away. As are yours. Though I absolutely do not deserve it, I am counted among the righteous. Thank you Father for your mercy and grace. Amen.