“Hear this, all peoples!” God had something to say through one of the sons of Korah to the “inhabitants of the world.” This composition was explicitly for all kinds of people, “rich and poor together.” The writer had an awareness that the words of his psalm were words of wisdom from God—that he would be able to unlock the meaning of a “riddle” with this song.
What was this mysterious question that the psalmist would explain? It concerned the iniquity of the wicked, particularly the rich, when they persecuted those who were following the Lord. This son of Korah wrote about the right approach for a follower of the Lord who was wondering about how to respond to unjust provocation.
The psalmist said, “Why should I fear in times of trouble?” Yes, these evil men “trust in their wealth” and “boast of the abundance of their riches.” Yet there was no need for their threats to disable a righteous man, even when such godless people were cheating him personally. What was his secret for calm endurance? Such wicked people could not live forever. No evildoer would be able to “give to God the price of his life.” Only God could provide a ransom to satisfy divine justice. Those who persisted in godlessness were the ones who were in great trouble, and not those who looked to the Lord for deliverance.
The solution to this mystery of life may seem obvious, but the godless man cannot seem to find it. All people die. Our only hope comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. Only through Him can anyone happily make it from this life to the next. Ownership of vast properties will not prevent a man from facing death.
All those among the nations of the world, whether rich or poor, would die. Their bodies would go to the grave, and their souls would go to the land of the departed—“Sheol.” The only hope for anyone would be that God would accept a ransom for him. This was the psalmist’s faith: “God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me.”
With this right understanding of life and death this son of Korah was able to instruct anyone who might sing his words. There was no need to be afraid of powerful the weak. The lives of even the most prosperous people would soon be over. The only hope of any man would be in the Lord’s provision of an acceptable ransom. That ransom has now come for all who will believe. A great future of blessing has been granted to us through the blood of Christ.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Holy God, You are over all, forever to be praised. We have some awareness of the sins of men and we confess our own transgressions. How can we be saved? Yet One has come for us as a Redeemer, that we might have a hope that extends beyond the grave. Our mortal bodies will die, and our achievements under the sun will swiftly be forgotten. Grant to us understanding of Your eternal glory, that we might live in Your presence forever.