Give Ear in Psalm 49 During Times of Trouble

Give Ear in Psalm 49 During Times of Trouble

I’ve just been visiting my daughter and her family for two weeks. I’d like to quote my daughter when speaking to her three toddlers: “Listen to me!” I heard that several times during this visit. I flashed back to the many times I said it when she was young, too.

We, as adults, need to be alerted, also, because we often simply do not listen.

“Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together!” Psalm 49:1-2

The psalmist is alerting all peoples. Hear! Give ear! Listen to me! Notice this is not a message for some people. It’s not a message for those in “Christian countries.” It’s not for those who find the Judeo-Christian path to be their way. This is not, “You do you.” It’s not, “Listen if this applies to you.” It’s a message heralded to all people—none excluded. After all, one day every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Lord of all (Philippians 2:10-11).

All inhabitants, this message is for you. Everyone. Every person in every people group.

Listen. Give ear. His mouth shares wisdom. His meditation is understanding. He leans into a proverb. He solves or answers a riddle.

“Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?” Psalm 49:5-6

Listen, yes. But do not fear.

Boasters and cheaters may take advantage of you in troubled times. But our hope is in the Lord alone. No one else. No matter what sort of brokenness you face. We do not trust our lives to any other. We do not fear what man can do to us (Psalm 118:6).

“Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.” Psalm 49:7-9

Ransom comes from only One, and ransom is costly. The ransom of a mere man for another cannot suffice. Ransom, apparently, is impossible for mankind. We are in a helpless state. No one can give God the price of his life to pay for another. There is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10).

Listen yes, but open your eyes, too. The wise and the stupid cease their living. Their life’s work leaves an inheritance to others, and their graves become their final dwelling. People even name their lands after themselves. But man does not live forever. Mankind foolishly boasts. Their descendants do not learn the lessons of those who have been lost.

Death becomes a shepherd to the proud, and the upright will rule over them. Theirs is a dismal, homeless existence for all time.

“But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” Psalm 49:15

Listen. God alone receives you and redeems your life. Trust not man. The rich ceases even as he builds riches. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), but the rich will carry nothing to his death.

The rich can count themselves blessed now, but he will follow in the footsteps of every ancestor before him. They never see light. The man apart from God is as hopeless as the beasts of the field.

We do well to listen. Give ear. Hear this all peoples: Do not fear man in times of trouble; God is our forever ransom.

“…his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.” Psalm 49:19-20


  1. Teppe

    Thank you, your words resonate with me.

    • D. Ray Davis

      Amen, the words of the many psalms have been a healing balm to me and I am grateful to God for this book.

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