Psalm 49:12

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 12. Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not. He is but a lodger for the hour, and does not stay a night: even when he dwells in marble halls his notice to quit is written out. Eminence is evermore in imminence of peril. The hero of the hour lasts but for an hour. Sceptres fall from the paralysed hands which once grasped them, and coronets slip away from skulls when the life is departed. He is like the beasts that perish. He is not like the sheep which are preserved of the Great Shepherd, but like the hunted beast which is doomed to die. He lives a brutish life and dies a brutish death. Wallowing in riches, surfeited with pleasure, he is fatted for the slaughter, and dies like the ox in the shambles. Alas! that so noble a creature should use his life so unworthily, and end it so disgracefully. So far as this world is concerned, wherein does the death of many men differ from the death of a dog? They go down --

"To the vile dust from whence they sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung."

What room is there, then, for fear to the godly when such natural brute beasts assail them? Should they not in patience possess their souls?

We make a break here, because this stanza appears to be the refrain of the song, and as such is repeated in Psalms 49:20 .

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 11-12. See Psalms on "Psalms 49:11" for further information.

Verse 12. Man being in honour abideth not. The Rabbins read it thus: "Adam being in honour, lodged not one night." The Hebrew word for abide signifies "to stay or lodge all night." Adam, then, it seems, did not take up one night's lodging in Paradise. Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 12. (last clause). Wherein the ungodly are like beasts, and wherein different.

Verse 12. Here is a twofold thwarting or crossing of the purposes of the ungodly worldling.

  1. The first is, he shall not be that which he ever wished to be: he shall not continue in honour.
  2. The other is this, he shall be that which he never desired to be: he shall be like the beasts that die. He shall miss of that which he sought for, and he shall have that which he looked not for.

S. Hieron.