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The Folly of Trust in Riches

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

49 Hear this, all peoples!
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
both low and high,
    rich and poor together!
My mouth shall speak wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
    I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

Why should I fear in times of trouble,
    when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
men who trust in their wealth
    and boast of the abundance of their riches?
Truly no man can ransom himself,[a]
    or give to God the price of his life,
for the ransom of his[b] life is costly,
    and can never suffice,
that he should continue to live on for ever,
    and never see the Pit.

10 Yea, he shall see that even the wise die,
    the fool and the stupid alike must perish
    and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their graves[c] are their homes for ever,
    their dwelling places to all generations,
    though they named lands their own.
12 Man cannot abide in his pomp,
    he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the fate of those who have foolish confidence,
    the end of those[d] who are pleased with their portion.Selah
14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
    Death shall be their shepherd;
straight to the grave they descend,[e]
    and their form shall waste away;
    Sheol shall be their home.[f]
15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
    for he will receive me.Selah

16 Be not afraid when one becomes rich,
    when the glory[g] of his house increases.
17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
    his glory[h] will not go down after him.
18 Though, while he lives, he counts himself happy,
    and though a man gets praise when he does well for himself,
19 he will go to the generation of his fathers,
    who will never more see the light.
20 Man cannot abide in his pomp,
    he is like the beasts that perish.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 49:7 Another reading is no man can ransom his brother
  2. Psalm 49:8 Gk: Heb their
  3. Psalm 49:11 Gk Syr Compare Tg: Heb their inward (thought)
  4. Psalm 49:13 Tg: Heb after them
  5. Psalm 49:14 Cn: Heb the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning
  6. Psalm 49:14 Heb uncertain
  7. Psalm 49:16 Or wealth
  8. Psalm 49:17 Or wealth

Psalm 49[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

Hear(A) this, all you peoples;(B)
    listen, all who live in this world,(C)
both low and high,(D)
    rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;(E)
    the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.(F)
I will turn my ear to a proverb;(G)
    with the harp(H) I will expound my riddle:(I)

Why should I fear(J) when evil days come,
    when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth(K)
    and boast(L) of their great riches?(M)
No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom(N) for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—(O)
so that they should live on(P) forever
    and not see decay.(Q)
10 For all can see that the wise die,(R)
    that the foolish and the senseless(S) also perish,
    leaving their wealth(T) to others.(U)
11 Their tombs(V) will remain their houses[b] forever,
    their dwellings for endless generations,(W)
    though they had[c] named(X) lands after themselves.

12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;(Y)
    they are like the beasts that perish.(Z)

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,(AA)
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.[d]
14 They are like sheep and are destined(AB) to die;(AC)
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail(AD) over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;(AE)
    he will surely take me to himself.(AF)
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
    when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing(AG) with them when they die,
    their splendor will not descend with them.(AH)
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—(AI)
    and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,(AJ)
    who will never again see the light(AK) of life.

20 People who have wealth but lack understanding(AL)
    are like the beasts that perish.(AM)

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 49:1 In Hebrew texts 49:1-20 is numbered 49:2-21.
  2. Psalm 49:11 Septuagint and Syriac; Hebrew In their thoughts their houses will remain
  3. Psalm 49:11 Or generations, / for they have
  4. Psalm 49:13 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 15.

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