Thursday, 26 December 2013

Psalm 49 - Dirge of the Righteous over the unredeemed.

The mighty one never rests till he has "led us over death" (48:14) to Resurrection-fulness of bliss in the kingdom.

Thrice happy are those who will enjoy it! But who shall tell the misery of those who are excluded from that bliss? It is this misery that is the theme of this Psalm. As sure as the eternal felicity of the redeemed is the miserable doom of the unredeemed; and this Psalm is the dirge over them.

The Redeemer himself speaks this "parable", this weighty discourse which in its topic is to the world no better than an unintelligible enigma - "a dark saying." But nevertheless, "these things which have been kept secret from the beginning" (Matt 13:38), are laid open here in their solemn grandeur, in their awful importance, in their truth and certainty.

Messiah speaks here "wisdom" and "understanding" as in Proverbs 1:20, revealing the deep things of God to man.

It is Messiah who says (v5), "why should I fear in the days of evil, when iniquity is at my heals to surround me?"

Messiah in our world of evil, pursued by sons of Belial, who would fain trample on him, surrounded by the troops of hell, breathing the atmosphere of this polluted world, walking amid its snares, is able to break through all unscathed, and foretell impending ruin to every foe.

Man has no means of paying to God his ransom money (Ex 21:30), although he brings the most costly price earth can furnish. He "must let that alone for ever" (prayer book version); he cannot come up to the amount demanded; he cannot give even what might be sufficient to redeem the life from the grave.

See how generations die, disappear, give way to other generations, all equally the prey of corruption; and yet fools continue to hope for immortality for themselves.

Things of this infatuation; pause, meditate; the harp will be silent for a time that you may ponder it - "Selah!"

But lift the veil! Where are these sons of folly? In the grave; "Death leads them to his pastures" as his sheep (Hengstenberg); and

"The Righteous have dominion over them in the morning.
Their beauty consumes away;
The grave is the dwelling for every one of them." (v14)

The First Resurrection is described in these few strokes, the Resurrection of the Just. They live and reign - have dominion - while "the rest of the dead do not live again until the thousand years are finished" (Rev 20:5) And to stifle all doubts in their birth, the Redeemer declares himself sure of resurrection; and if he, then they also, for he is the first fruits, the pledge of theirs.

"Surely God shall redeem my soul from the hand of the grave;
For He shall redeem me." (v15)

He shall receive me as Enoch was received, receive me up to glorious rest (Gen 5:25, the same word). Hear, therefore, the sum of the whole matter. The ungodly shall never see "the light" of that "morning" (v14); yes (v20), "man in prosperity" even Antichrist in the flush of his power, "is like the beasts; he is to be rooted out" (Hengstenberg) - he has no lot of portion with the blessed.

In such strains the Redeemer himself utters this melancholy Dirge of the Righteous over the unredeemed.

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