Old Testament

Psalm 49
Psalm 49
The Fool Trusts in Riches
For the choir director. By the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1Hear this, all you peoples.
Pay attention, all you inhabitants of this world,
2all you children of Adam, all mankind,
rich and poor alike.
3My mouth will speak wisdom.
The meditation of my heart will give understanding.
4I will listen carefully to wise teaching.
With a lyre I will explain deep truths.
The Limitations of Riches
5Why should I fear days of trouble,
days when the wickedness of my pursuers surrounds me?[]
6They trust in their wealth.
They place their confidence in the abundance of their riches.
7But no one can by any means redeem himself.[]
He cannot give God a ransom for himself—
8(For the ransom for their souls is costly.
Any payment would fall short.)[]
9—so that he could live on forever and not see the pit.
10Yes, we can see that wise men die.
The fool and the senseless alike perish,
and they leave their wealth to others.
11They think their houses will remain forever,
their dwellings for generation after generation,[]
because they named lands after themselves.
12But man, though he has riches, does not even spend a night here.
He is like the animals that perish.
13This way of theirs is foolishness,
but their followers approve of what they say. Interlude
14They are like a flock destined for the grave.
Death will be their shepherd.
The upright will rule over them in the morning.
Their bodies will be consumed by the grave,
far from their mansions.[]
The Limitless Power of God
15But surely God will redeem my life from the power of the grave.
Yes, he will take me to himself. Interlude
Review and Conclusion
16Do not be afraid when a man grows rich,
when the glory of his house increases,
17because when he dies, he cannot take anything along.
His glory will not go down with him.
18Throughout his life he congratulates himself:
“People praise you because you have done so well for yourself.”
19He will go to the gathering place of his fathers.
They will never see the light!
20A man who has riches but does not understand
is like the animals that perish.


  • 49:5 The line is unclear. The Hebrew reads the wickedness of my heels surrounds me.
  • 49:7 The translation follows a few Hebrew manuscripts. Many Hebrew manuscripts read he cannot redeem a brother.
  • 49:8 The line is cryptic: it/he ceases forever. This may mean that no payment is ever enough or that at death the man's earthly life ends forever.
  • 49:11 The translation follows the Hebrew. Ancient versions read their tombs will remain their houses forever.
  • 49:14 The Hebrew of this line reads their form for consuming of Sheol, from a lofty residence to him. The meaning is unclear.