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Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Monday, July 1, 2019, Yujin wrote,

Like sheep, they are led to the grave,
    where death will be their shepherd.
In the morning the godly will rule over them.
    Their bodies will rot in the grave,
    far from their grand estates.
But as for me, God will redeem my life.
    He will snatch me from the power of the grave. Interlude

So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich
    and their homes become ever more splendid.
For when they die, they take nothing with them.
    Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.
In this life they consider themselves fortunate
    and are applauded for their success.
But they will die like all before them
    and never again see the light of day.
People who boast of their wealth don’t understand;
    they will die, just like animals (Psalm 49:14-20).

Though the word "heaven" or "afterlife" is not explicitly mentioned, it is clearly described here. The reason why the righteous need not envy the prosperity of the wicked is this. The prosperity of the wicked will only last till their death, but the righteous have this hope: "God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave" (Psalm 49:15). 

The Old Testament saint and the New Testament saint share a common hope, namely eternal life in heaven. Those who trust in their earthly wealth, success, and prosperity can take none of it with them. They will die just like the animals. 

Therefore, dear friends, let us not be led by greed or ambition, which characterize the foolish and meaningless life of the wicked and ignorant. Instead, let us concentrate on living a life characterized by faithfulness in all that God has created, called and gifted us to do. 

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Sunday, July 27, 2014 (Last Updated on 6/30/2015), Yujin wrote,

Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased (Psalm 49:16).

One of the most valuable things we gain from daily meditation on biblical truth is perspective. We are reminded that earthly benefits are temporary, and it is folly to give too much attention to them. Once this earthly life is done, there is a reckoning by God:

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Yet, no amount of money can buy enduring life:

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them -- the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough -- so that they should live on forever and not see decay (Psalm 49:7-9).

This is why riches are fleeting, and those who trust them are foolish. They will soon perish without hope; they will continue in death forever (cf. Psalm 49:11-14). But God will redeem from death those whose hope is in Him:

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself (Psalm 49:15).

Psalm 73 is thematically parallel to Psalm 49. Asaph wrote of the prosperity of the godless during their earthly lives, but this would swiftly come to an end when their lives were done. Asaph understood that his hope was not in anything on earth, for everything earthly was temporary, but his relationship with God was enduring and eternal:

Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever (Psalm 73:23-26).

Why does Asaph say that God was his only desire on earth? Was it not because God was his only enduring hope? No material thing, no physical relationship, and no earthly wisdom could escape death's indiscriminate grip. What is more, he had no certain connection with anyone in the eternal paradise of heaven except God. When his flesh wasted away and his heart gave out, God would be the One that would sustain his life in eternity.

If we believe this, how then should we live? Should not our concentration, our effort, and our time be devoted to trusting and obeying God? Peter, writing about the Day of the Lord, when every earthly thing will be destroyed by the fire of God's judgment, asked this very same question:

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat (2 Peter 3:11-12).

Our days are filled with uncertainties, disappointments, petty squabbles, peppered fleeting moments of happiness when things go our way. When we get caught up in this life, we are sometimes blinded to eternal things. We forget hat it is most important for us to live for God rather than for the enjoyments of this earthly life. We forget that God is sovereign, that nothing escapes His notice and control. This thought alone should dispel every fret and cause us instead to focus on aligning our actions and motivations with God's will.

Not everyone will have such a view of things. People still count themselves blessed when they are rich and receive praise from others because of their prosperity:

Though while they live they count themselves blessed -- and people praise you when you prosper (Psalm 49:18).

The folly of this way of thinking will become all too clear to these people only when it is too late:

They will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life. People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish (Psalm 49:19-20).

How then should we think and act? We should make integrity and character the priorities over earthly gains and achievement. The spiritual and moral should take precedence over the material. Every situation, career, hardship, disagreement, service, illness, loss, gain, event, plan, investment, spending, earning, pleasure, education, training, consideration, and the million other things that concern us should all be viewed through the prism of God's eternal Word, so that we might have the proper perspective and direct our time, effort, and concentration toward the right things, even that which serves God's kingdom and righteousness:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).

In this way we will find peace and contentment in any and every circumstance of life, even as we await the coming kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (cf. Philippians 3:20-21; 4:7).

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Monday, July 1, 2013 (Last Updated on 7/27/2014), Yujin wrote,

Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
His glory will not descend after him (Psalm 49:16-17).

The psalmist argues that riches have no enduring value, but their benefit will only last as long as the wealthy person is living. Paul says much the same thing in the New Testament:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Paul writes that godliness with contentment should be the extent of Christian concern. Just so there is no confusion as to what Paul means, he clarifies that by contentment he means "food and clothing." I think he adds this clarification because some have a very different notion of what they need versus what they want. Do they need insurance? No, they want it. Do they need a retirement plan? No, they want it. Do they need to own their own home? No, they want it. Do they need to send their kids to private school?No, they want to.

Many of us say that we don't really value these things, but just look at us when we are on the verge of losing any of them. We might surprise ourselves by how much of our time and energy are given to these very things that we say hold such little value for us. But perhaps I'm being too radical with what I'm suggesting here. 

Many of us find ourselves immersed in Facebook, playing mobile games, or watching dramas. These too are distractions. How about the attention that we give to growing our nest egg, or pushing our kids in academic and extracurricular activities, or even the hours we spend at work just so that we can maintain our upper middle class lifestyle? Aren't these distractions as well?

Is this being godly and content in the 20th century? Or do we fall more into Paul's other category:

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Friends, the psalmist says not to fear the wealthy because they will take none of their wealth with them. This is clear. But what may not be so obvious is the underlying counsel not to pursue what they pursue. In other words, we are commanded to pursue godliness over material riches, to practice contentment over ambition for greater gain.

I have been trying to do this for about the past ten years. I have deliberately given the lion's share of every day to meditating on the Bible. From simply personal reading and memorization, I have taken the step over the last three years to make this a ministry, primarily through sharing on this website.

I have tried to find "passive" income to supply the needs and wants of my family so that, rather than spending my time working for wages, my time can be devoted to studying the Scriptures and ministering the Gospel to others for free. I have been trying to simplify my life and that of my family little by little, so that we might free ourselves from the distractions of this world. So, I've weaned myself off of my iPhone and gotten a basic phone. I have not even considered "texting." I have just removed Cable TV from our home, using an inexpensive antennae for local HD channels. Rather than buying books or renting movies, I have learned the incredible and free resource, which is the local library. I've learned that with just a bit of patience I can get almost anything through interlibrary loan.

My concentration has not been about making money but about living simply and responsibly, even gaining more time to prioritize God's Word and what glorifies Him most in my life. My annual study through the Bible has not merely been a discipline, as if I just wanted to put another notch on my spiritual belt. No, it has been to help me think more and more like Jesus, having a deeper and better understanding of the whole counsel of Scripture, so that there will be no mistake as I seek to obey God's will for my life and also to instruct my family and others in the right way.

What am I seeking? "Godliness with contentment" in as practical a way as I can imagine and execute in my life. I have chosen not to take a rash, and sometimes foolish, approach by making a radical change in my life and that of my family based on a single Scripture or book. I pray that God, who knows my heart, will be pleased, as I make changes little by little, as over time I gain a clearer understanding of His will through His Word.

Some of you know that over the past year I've been encouraging parents to take a more active role in the education, particularly spiritual instruction, of their children. This is commanded by Scripture. This is why I have prioritized a daily Bible study with my 4-year-old daughter. This does not displace my own study. This is in addition to it. Even though my wife and I plan to send our daughter to a Christian pre-K school in the Fall, we have taken the initiative to begin and extend her education at home. I have found a good reading curriculum (Explode the Code series) to help her to learn to read.

What is more, our House Church, aware of the biblical priority of the husband-wife relationship, have begun to put in place a plan to allow our member couples to have regular date nights. We will do this by coordinating our schedules so that we can watch each other's kids, which would free our couples to have this very vital, undestracted and personal time with each other. We have only begun to do this. As in any endeavor, it will succeed to the degree that the participants are committed to it.

Our spouses are important. Our children are important. But what perhaps takes the lion's share of time for many is their jobs. While I would love everyone to learn to establish and live on passive income, I know that it is not so easy to do, and it requires learning, discipline and time. However, gainful employment does not need to be a time-consuming and meaningless drudgery. I would encourage everyone to try to seek out ways to convert their work experience into a ministry experience. I don't mean to simply work with integrity. This should be without question. But find ways to share the Gospel. Find ways to strengthen other Christians. Find avenues to draw the people that you work with or work for nearer to God and to Christ. In this way your work becomes your ministry. 

Friends, I think I shared many different things here, about which much more can be said, but I include these things here so that I might not simply be sharing the Scriptures with you, but also my life. My intention is that what I share here might somehow resonate with you and that we might partner together in bringing glory to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Sunday, July 1, 2012, Yujin wrote,

Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily,  for no one can ever pay enough...But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave. So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid. For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. (Psalm 49:7, 8, 15-17 NLT)

Once again in the Psalms we find a foreshadowing of the Gospel. The Sons of Korah express here a truth somewhat shrouded in the Old Testament, though it is clear in the New Testament. It is the truth that redemption from death cannot be achieved by people. Why? Since sin is an offense against an infinite and eternal God, who could pay the high and enduring price for such an offense except in eternal suffering and death. But what human beings could not accomplish, Christ accomplished for us. Having come as a man He could identify with us, being of the same nature, yet without sin. And as God, infinitely and eternally holy Himself, He could also overcome on our behalf the infinite and eternal consequence of our sins. Thus, we know Jesus as the God-man (theological: "hypostatic union"), whereby He is not part God and part human but fully God and fully human at the same time. 

Thus, Paul argues that Jesus is our substitute in death for sin:

He [God] sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. (Romans 8:3 NLT)

Yet, the Scripture clearly teaches that Christ overcame death through the power of God in resurrection. This is what Peter preached to those in Jerusalem at the inauguration of the church:

"For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave." David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave. God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. (Acts 2:27, 31, 32 NLT)

And because Jesus rose again, in the course of time we too will be raised with Him:

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NLT)

In Psalm 49 the Sons of Korah write about the fate of the wise, the foolish, and the rich, how all will face the same final outcome, namely, eternal death in the grave; however, they expect to be rescued from the grave. By what power? It is the power of God. And though they do not specifically name Jesus, they do recognize that redemption from death could only be achieved by the payment of an infinite price. They also recognized that this price could only be paid by God. Yet for how this could be achieved, we would need to go to the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Messiah:

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all... Unjustly condemned, he was led away... But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief... And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins... He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (Isaiah 53:4-12 NLT)

Friends, let us remember both our rebellion and Christ's redemption from the just payment for that rebellion. For God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). Therefore, let us always be exalting Christ in our lives, for He is worthy of our eternal praise for Who He is and what He has accomplished for us. Let us not diminish the worth of His great work on our behalf by pursuing the vain and fleeting things of this life, but let us dedicate ourselves to continuing the work that He began in us by declaring His worth in everything we do.

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Friday, July 1, 2011, Unmi wrote,
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; 
   I will be exalted among the nations, 
   I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

This is one on my favorite verses in the Bible.  My life often feels overwhelmingly busy.  I wish I could add a few more hours to the 24 hour day to get everything done.  But will the world end if I didn't accomplish everything I wanted today?  Is my life or the well being on my family and friends in my hands? I must admit that I often behave as though it were! But this verse which is hanging on a plaque on my living room wall reminds me that I AM NOT GOD. There is only one GOD, the creator of the universe, and sometimes I just need to stand still to acknowledge Him. He is the one who is in control and He will be exalted among all nations.

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Friday, July 1, 2011, Matt wrote,

Repetition.  Today while reading Psalm 49 the phrase "like the beasts that perish" (v. 12 & 20) stood out.  I googled it and one of the results was this blog sharing the author's insight on its relation to discipline.  The main point was that one reason we should pray for our children is because, once like us, they do not understand - like beasts.  If we do not raise them in the ways of the Lord, who will?  This is more than sending them to Sunday School or a Christian summer camp.  It is daily praying, teaching, correcting, rebuking, training and disciplining.  We can give our children a lot of things but the best thing we can try to give them is an example of holiness.

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Friday, July 1, 2011, Yujin wrote,

Friends, a sobering reminder from Psalm 49:16-20 for both the poor and the rich:

 Do not be afraid when one becomes rich,
         When the glory of his house is increased;
 For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
         His glory shall not descend after him.
 Though while he lives he blesses himself
         (For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),
 He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
         They shall never see light.
 A man who is in honor, yet does not understand,
         Is like the beasts that perish.

The psalm addresses someone that is not rich and advises them not to fear the one that is. The fundamental point is that the glory of earthly riches will disappear. And if the rich man does not realize this himself, he is just like the animals, having no understanding.

Jesus taught this very same principle in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20).

Isn't this also Solomon's argument in the Book of Ecclesiastes? He writes that pursuing wealth is vain because, as with everything that pertains to this world, it does not last. Only God and the works of God are forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14). Therefore, he concludes that there is only one thing that is meaningful to do in this meaningless existence, and that is to "fear God and keep His commandments" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Friends, I don't know one person that is completely true to this principle. It seems everyone has to one degree or another set their heart's desire on something connected to this world system. I am no different. But I hope that we can all change, and as the Lord commands, "not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds," and so our lives will demonstrate "what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Friday, July 1, 2011, Yujin wrote,

Psalm 46 is a powerful word of comfort for anyone who feels the world is collapsing in on them. Consider just the first few verses:

    1God is our refuge and strength,
         A very present help in trouble.
    2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
         And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
    3Though its waters roar and foam,
         Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

That God is "our refuge" means that He protects us from outside harm. That God is "our strength" means that He preserves us from inside turmoil. And we don't have to wait for some future time to receive this benefit because He is our "very present help" - He helps us right now!

Then notice that the Psalmist doesn't simply say, "We do not have to fear." Instead, he boldly declares, "We WILL NOT fear!" There is no hesitation there. There is no uncertainty there. Even if the world is removed, even if the nations threaten war, he himself is unmoved. Why? Because, the Psalmist declares through emphatic repetition in verses 7 and 11: "The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold!"

Dear friends, I pray that you too will trust in the Lord and acknowledge that He is your refuge and your strength. We are to keep this confident hope until He comes again to bring us into the Paradise of God, where "there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High (verse 4 ; cf. Revelation 22:1-5). Till then, let us be still and know that He is God. Or, as the NASB translates it, "Cease striving and know that I am God" (verse 10). One of my favorite songs is based on this verse: See here.

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Friday, July 2, 2010, Fernando wrote,

50:23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.

      If you keep to my path,
      I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

I like this one verse. It shows the heart of sacrificing: giving thanks.  Though why is giving thanks a sacrifice? it seems like a small gesture to say, 'thanks.'  Obviously i don't get the whole picture.  It recognizes God position: Above everything, his faithfulness in providing, sustenance, and growth. 

I also like this verse because it is God speaking of God. "If you keep MY path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God" sounds like a 'What' that has 3 'Who's - Trinity.

Passage: Psalms 46-50

On Thursday, July 1, 2010, Jeremy wrote,

   What an awesome series of reminders in these Psalms.  The sovereignty, power, holiness and love of our God are all expressed.  I really got a sense of our weakness and of God's greatness and power in reading these.