Psalms 49:5

5 1Why should I fear in 2times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,

Psalms 49:5 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 49:5

Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil
This is the principal thing that all are before called to hearken to. This is the wisdom and understanding the psalmist had been meditating upon, and was about to utter; this is the parable he inclined his ear to, and the dark saying he would open; namely, that a saint has nothing to fear in the worst of times; which is a riddle to a natural man. Aben Ezra interprets "the days of evil" of the days of old age, as they are called, ( Ecclesiastes 12:1 ) , which bring on diseases, weakness, and death; in which a good man has no reason to fear; as that he should want the necessaries of life, since they that fear the Lord shall want no good thing; or that he should not hold out to the end, seeing God, who is the guide of youth, is the staff of old age, and carries to hoary hairs, and will never leave nor forsake; and though the wicked man in old age has reason to be afraid of death and eternity at hand, the saint has not; but may sing, on the borders of the grave, "O death! where is thy sting?" &c. ( 1 Corinthians 15:55 ) . Also days in which iniquity abounds, and error and heresy prevail, are days of evil; and though the good man may fear he shall be led aside by the ill example of some, or by the craft of others; yet he need not, since the foundation of God stands sure, and he knows them that are his, and will take care of them and preserve them. Moreover, times of affliction and persecution are evil days; see ( Ephesians 5:16 ) ( 6:13 ) ; and such will be the hour of temptation, that shall try the inhabitants of the earth, ( Revelation 3:10 ) . Yet the righteous man need not fear, since it is always well with him, let his case and circumstances be what they will. Yea, the day of death, and the day of judgment are days of evil to wicked men; and therefore they put them away far from them, ( Amos 6:3 ) ; but believers have reason to rejoice at them, the day of their death being better than the day of their birth; and the day of judgment will be the time of the glorious appearing of Christ to them. It is added,

[when] the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about;
that is, the sins of life and conversation; "heels" denote "steps", and the word is sometimes so rendered, as in ( Psalms 56:6 ) ; and "iniquity" intends sin committed in walking; and so designs not original sin, as some have thought, but actual sins and transgressions: and these may be said to "compass [the saints] about", when they are chastised for them, and so are brought to a sense and acknowledgment of them, and to be humbled for them; and then they have nothing to fear in a slavish way, since these chastisements are not in wrath, or in a way of vindictive justice, or punishment for sin; but the fruits of love and favour. Or the sense may be, when death, the fruit of iniquity, the wages of sin, surrounds and seizes upon me; (ypwob) , "in my end", as the Targum; in my last days, at the heel or close of them, I will not fear; the saint has no reason to fear, when he walks through death's dark valley; for death is abolished as a penal evil, its sting is took away, and its curse removed. Some render the words, "when the iniquity of my supplanters shall compass me about" F15; meaning his enemies, who either lay in wait for him privately, and endeavoured to supplant him; or that pursued him closely, and pressed upon his heels, just ready to destroy him; yet even then he signifies he should not fear: and then the sense is the same with ( Psalms 27:1-3 ) ; to which agree the Syriac and Arabic versions, which render it, "the iniquity of mine enemies"; or, "when my enemies surround me": and it may be literally rendered, when "iniquity surrounds me at my heels" F16; that is, when men, who are iniquity itself, encompass me, are at my heels, ready to seize me, I will not fear.


F15 (ybqe Nwe) "iniquitas supplantatorum meorum", Gejerus; "insidiatorum meorum", some in Vatablus.
F16 "Iniquitas oppressorum", i.e. "iniquissimi mei oppressores ambiunt me", Gejerus.

Psalms 49:5 In-Context

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,

Cross References 2

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.