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Psalm 49 - The Folly of Trust in Riches

To the leader.

Of the Korahites. A Psalm.

Hear this, all you peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world, 2 both low and high, rich and poor together. 3 My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. 4 I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.

5 Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me, 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? 7 Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,[a] there is no price one can give to God for it. 8 For the ransom of life is costly, and can never suffice, 9 that one should live on forever and never see the grave.[b]

10 When we look at the wise, they die; fool and dolt perish together and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves[c] 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[d] who are pleased with their lot. 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 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[g] 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.


a. Psalm 49:7 Another reading is no one can ransom a brother

b. Psalm 49:9 Heb the pit

c. Psalm 49:11 Gk Syr Compare Tg: Heb their inward (thought)

d. Psalm 49:13 Tg: Heb after them

e. Psalm 49:14 Cn: Heb the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning

f. Psalm 49:14 Meaning of Heb uncertain

g. Psalm 49:19 Cn: Heb you

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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