‘Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’

Psalm 49 and Luke 12. 13-21

Benjamin Franklin’s famous words are often quoted but the truth of them had been apparent for centuries.  Psalm 49 confronts the reality of death and whilst not speaking exactly about taxes does refer to the cost of life beyond the grave. ‘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.’ vv 7-9 The Psalm forms part of the bible’s wisdom literature and responds in part to the last verse of the previous psalm that speaks of God’s guidance.

“It addresses the confusion that the faithful often feel when they encounter trouble even while unfaithful people seem to get along so well. Is not God expected to show his favour for the faithful in how he treats them? The answer is that God will distinguish between the faithful and the unfaithful in what happens to them when they die vv 12,20 Verses 12 and 20 are very similar, the key difference being in the words translated ‘remain’ and ‘understanding,’ which sound almost the same in Hebrew. The element of understanding makes the difference.  Those who sing this psalm will want to continue living faithfully. They will be strengthened against the temptation either to despair or to give up and join the unfaithful.” (ESV Global Study Bible)

Jesus takes this theme in the parable of the Rich Fool. In a response to a demand to settle a family dispute of an inheritance Jesus warns them to be on their guard against greed, ‘life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’ Luke 12.15 Life should though, be lived in the awareness that one might die without warning. At that point it is what we stored up before God that is important.  Luke 12. 20,21

Psalm 49 does contain within it the promise of resurrection v 15 although as yet the exact form and means of the resurrection is yet to be revealed. The ransom and resurrection become the principle focus of the New Testament.

Faithfull One So Unchanging

Leave a Reply