Psalm 49:11

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 11. Their inward thought is, their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations. He is very foolish who is more a fool in his inmost thought than he dare to be in his speech. Such rotten fruit, rotten at the core, are worldlings. Down deep in their hearts, though they dare not say so, they fancy that earthly goods are real and enduring. Foolish dreamers! The frequent dilapidation of their castles and manor houses should teach them better, but still they cherish the delusion. They cannot tell the mirage from the true streams of water; they fancy rainbows to be stable, and clouds to be the everlasting hills. They call their lands after their own names. Common enough is this practice. His grounds are made to bear the groundling's name, he might as well write it on the water. Men have even called countries by their own names, but what are they the better for the idle compliment, even if men perpetuate their nomenclature?

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 11. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever. This is the interpretation of our actions, when we do not make God our portion, but trust in the abundance of our riches; this is our inward thought, the saying of our heart, Ye are my god. We do in effect say, Thou art my confidence, my hope, and my joy, and will stand by me when all things cease and fail, and wilt not suffer me to want, or to be wrong, as long as you last: these are the secret speeches of our hearts. Christians! many may (orator like), declaim against the vanity of the creature, and speak as basely of money as others do, and say, We know it is but a little refined earth; but their hearts close with it, they are loathe to part with it for God's sake, or upon God's declared will. As he that speaketh good words of God, is not said to trust in God; so speaking bad words of worldly riches doth not exempt us from trusting them. There is a difference between declaiming as an orator, and acting like a Christian. Thomas Manton.

Verse 11. Their inward thought. If good thoughts be thy deep thoughts, if, as we say, the best be at the bottom, thy thoughts are then right, and thou art righteous; for as the deep thoughts of worldlings are worldly thoughts, and the deep thoughts of wicked men are wicked thoughts, so the deep thoughts of good men are good thoughts. It is a notable observation of the Holy Ghost's concerning worldly men, that their inward thought is that their houses shall continue for ever, etc. Why? is there any thought that is not an inward thought? No, but the meaning is, though they have some floating thoughts of their mortality, and the vanity and transitoriness of all worldly things, swimming, as it were, on the top; yet they do not suffer such thoughts to sink into their hearts, or to go to the bottom; but the thoughts that lodge there are such as his, who is said by our Saviour to have thought within himself, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." Luke 12:19 . Note the phrase, "he thought within himself." There are other kinds of thoughts that sometimes knock at the door of the worldling's heart, nay, sometimes look in at his windows, as Paul's sermon began to press in upon Felix his heart, and to set him trembling; but there are other thoughts within, which if they cannot keep good thoughts quite out, they will keep them off from making any due or deep impression upon the heart. Now, these thoughts that nestle themselves as it were at the very heart roots, to keep others out from reaching thither, these deep thoughts are they which the Scriptures call the inward thoughts, according to that of the psalmist Psalms 64:6 , "The inward thought of every one of them and the heart, is deep." Faithful Teat in "Right Thoughts the Righteous man's Evidence," 1666.

Verse 11. They call their lands after their own names. God makes fools of them, for how few have you that go beyond the third generation? How few houses have you that the child or the grandchild can say, "This was my grandfather's and my great grandfather's"? How few houses have you that those that are now in them can say, "My ancestor dwelt here, and these were his lands"? Go over a whole country, few can say so. Men when they build, together with building in the earth they build castles in the air; they have conceits. Now I build for my child, and for my child's child. God crosses them. Either they have no posterity, or by a thousand things that fall out in the world, it falls out otherwise. The time is short, and the fashion of this world passeth away; that is, the buildings pass away, the owning passeth away, all things here pass away; and, therefore, buy as if you possessed not, buy, so as we neglect not the best possession in heaven, and so possess these things, as being not possessed and commanded of them. Richard Sibbes.

Verse 11. Mr. A was a wealthy farmer in Massachusetts, about sixty years of age, and it had been his ruling, and almost only passion in life to acquire property. His neighbour B owned a small farm, which came too near the centre of A's extended domain, was quite a blot in his prospect, destroyed the regularity of his lands, and on the whole it was really necessary, in his opinion, that he should add it to his other property. B became embarrassed, and was sued; judgments were obtained, and executions issued. A now thought he should obtain the land, but one execution after another was arranged, and finally the debt was paid off without selling the land. When A heard of the payment of the last execution, which put an end to his hopes of obtaining the land, he exclaimed, "Well, B is an old man, and cannot live long, and when he dies I can buy the lot." B was fifty- eight, A was sixty! Reader, do you ever expect to die? K. Arvine's Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious Anecdotes.

Verse 11. I have purchased, saith one, such lands, and I have got so good a title to them, that certainly they will remain mine and my heirs for ever; never considering how all things here below are subject to ebbings and flowings, to turns and vicissitudes every day. Joseph Caryl.

Verse 11. The fleeting nature of all earthly possessions is well illustrated in the life of William Beckford, and the unenduring character of gorgeous fabrics in the ruin of his famous Babel, Fonthill Abbey. Byron sang of Beckford's palace in Spain, in language most applicable to Fonthill:

"There, too, thou Vathek! England's wealthiest son --
Once formed thy Paradise, as not aware
When wanton wealth her mightiest deeds hath done,
Meek Peace voluptuous lures was ever wont to shun.
Here didst thou dwell; here schemes of pleasure plan,
Beneath yon mountain's ever beauteous brow.
But now, as if a thing unblessed by man,
Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou!
Here giant weeds a passage scarce allow,
To halls deserted, portals gaping wide;
Fresh lessons to the thinking bosom, how
Vain are the pleasures on earth supplied,
Swept into wrecks anon by Time's ungentle tide!" C. H. S.

Verse 11-12. "They call their GROUNDS after their names. But the GROUNDLING, in the midst of splendour, endureth not." In Psalms 49:11 , we have (twmra), "grounds." In Psalms 49:12 , it is (~ra), "groundling," with a designed iteration and play upon the word; for want of an attention to which the passage has not been fully understood. John Mason Good.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

None.