Silence for 2-5 minutes:
If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus.
1 Hear this, all 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 lyre.
5 Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? 7 Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, 8 for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, 9 that he should live on forever and never see the pit.
10 For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their homes forever,[a] their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. 12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts.[b] Selah 14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. 15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah
Reading: Psalm 49 is a Proverb set to music. It is prophetic and hard-hitting. Somehow, I can hear Bob Dylan singing it, albeit with an acoustic guitar rather than a harp! The Psalm seeks to bring some relief to the age-old question as to why the unrighteous often seem to prosper while the good man struggles. The Psalmist proclaims that death is the great equalizer and clarifier. When a man faces the horrors of death, riches cannot save him, nor comfort him as he goes on this unknown journey that everyone must take. The writer's great hope is that God will redeem his soul from the dark powers of death. Whereas, one who trusts in wealth, will "perish like a beast."
Jesus often warned his disciples to avoid laying up treasures on this earth. Riches in this life perish. Temporal treasures wear out, rust, become moth-eaten and ultimately disintegrate or are stolen by thieves. The Lord offers us an alternative lifestyle of generosity and love with eternal import. Christ-followers do not leave anything behind but instead, look ahead to a life where their riches await them. Think of that! We can be confident that every action taken in Jesus' name will be preserved forever and somehow will never fade. What an opportunity to invest in our future!
Jesus also answers and fulfills the haunting question of the one who will ransom not only our souls but also our bodies from death. Physical passing awaits us all, but through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, those who trust in him never die. The New Testament never says that a departed saint is dead, but merely asleep, or present with the Lord. Indeed, through faith in Christ we are already redeemed from death and will someday be received by our Father, who will shower us with abundant pleasures never conceived of in this life.
I am reminded of the beautiful promise of Jude's doxology:
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Is your life focused on accumulating wealth in this life or laying treasure in heaven? What does such a life that Jesus prescribes look like? Take a step in that direction today.
O Lord, I am part of a culture that seems to look solely to the "almighty dollar." Mamon claims untold numbers of worshippers who seem unaware that this god has no power to save. Give me the strength to turn away from mamon and instead lay treasure in heaven. I can be assured that the God who feeds the sparrows and clothes the fields with flowers will take care of me. Amen.