1 Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who inhabit the world, 2 both low and high, rich and poor together. 3 My mouth speaks wisdom; my heart’s meditation brings understanding. 4 I turn my ear to a proverb; I explain my riddle with a lyre. 5 Why should I fear in times of trouble? The iniquity of my foes surrounds me. 6 They trust in their wealth and boast of their abundant riches. 7 Yet these cannot redeem a person or pay his ransom to God— 8 since the price of redeeming him is too costly, one should forever stop trying— 9 so that he may live forever and not see the Pit. 10 For one can see that wise men die; foolish and stupid men also pass away. Then they leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their eternal homes, their homes from generation to generation, though they have named estates after themselves. 12 But despite his assets, man will not last; he is like the animals that perish. 13 This is the way of those who are arrogant, and of their followers, who approve of their words. Selah 14 Like sheep they are headed for Sheol; Death will shepherd them. The upright will rule over them in the morning, and their form will waste away in Sheol, far from their lofty abode. 15 But God will redeem my life from the power of Sheol, for He will take me. Selah 16 Do not be afraid when a man gets rich, when the wealth of his house increases. 17 For when he dies, he will take nothing at all; his wealth will not follow him down. 18 Though he praises himself during his lifetime— and people praise you when you do well for yourself— 19 he will go to the generation of his fathers; they will never see the light. 20 A man with valuable possessions but without understanding is like the animals that perish.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Be sure to click on the new video this week.
At first glance, this Psalm seems to be telling us it is foolish to try to acquire earthly wealth. But when we look deeper into the heart of David, it is evident that he is not merely speaking against the act of acquiring or seeking wealth; instead, he is focusing on our motivation for seeking wealth in the first place.
Acquiring or not acquiring wealth is not the issue. There is nothing inherently wrong with money or desiring to provide for one’s future. The problem is that so many of us equate wealth with security—but as David reminds us in this Psalm, our true security does not lie in our money. In fact, our only true security rests in the safekeeping of our most costly possession: our soul.
David is saying out loud what we all feel to be true, deep in our hearts. Every person has their own questions that they speak into the darkness at night. Where am I safe from the wicked? Where can I find my rest? What is the guarantee, the assurance that my investments and my efforts won’t be thwarted?
In verse 16, David says “Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich.” Why would anyone be afraid if a man became rich? This is a difficult question to consider, unless we are prepared to look deeper into our own hearts.
In our society, if a man becomes rich, we tend to believe that a certain measure of power is given to him. After all, earthly wealth has promoted many into positions of control and authority. Those who have less money are often shown as having less opportunity, less control over their life, and ultimately – less security.
It is tempting to believe that wealth secures for us a type of ultimate salvation—a form of success, a level of prosperity, an ease of living, a painless pass through life.
But David reminds us in this chapter that none of us can ultimately secure for ourselves any one of these things. Whether we are wicked or righteous, we all have one thing in common: we are incapable of taking our riches with us when we leave this earth, and we are incapable of securing an eternity of safekeeping for our souls.
As David says again in verse 9, we cannot purchase our soul or the souls of our brothers. And if we can’t afford it when we are seeking to be righteous before God, then how much less can the wicked man afford it, even if he has all the riches in the world?
Therefore, we should not fear the wicked, even if they seem to be prospering! The only One who can pay for your soul is also the only One who can (and will) protect it. To store up this wisdom as wealth is the wisest investment we can make.
We will perish, eventually. No money or wealth in the world, no matter how much the quantity, can purchase immortality. We are what we are. As David says in verse 20, “People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.” The true wisdom is to rest in the wealth of our relationship with Christ and the security He offers us.
It is in God that we find our security. And as David points out, we secure for ourselves the greatest wealth of all when we choose to understand and acknowledge God’s absolute safe-keeping of our souls.
- Consider some of the financial investments you’ve made in the past couple months. How many of them were to purchase some form of security – whether for your health, your social standing, or the assurance of your self-worth? Is there a pattern?
- David reminds us of the cost of our soul. It is so expensive that it can’t be purchased by anyone except God. Does this reality change the way you view your salvation? When was the last time you thanked God for paying the price for your soul?
- Thinking about your current circumstances, is there anyone you are afraid of because of the control they seem to have over an area or a piece of your life? Pray about surrendering those concerns to the Lord. Pray to obey the command David set forth in verse 16 – do not be afraid! Your security rests in Christ alone.