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Bible Commentaries

Parker's The People's Bible

Psalms 49

Verse 7

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." Psa 49:7

The subject is limitations of influence or power, even under the most favourable conditions. Here we have a brother dying; he is surrounded by rich relations; they would gladly redeem him or give a ransom for him, and yet all their generous thought and all their hoarded wealth go for nothing. There is a point at which even love stops, and sacrifice can go no further, and the soul must bow down itself in conscious helplessness and momentary despair. The word "brother" is not merely a family word as used in this connection. It will bear a large human interpretation. Thus we have a universal law, namely, that all men must succumb to the tyranny of the last enemy. Here is the ground upon which our common humanity is realised. Wealth can create great distinctions of a social kind. Wealth can make a great difference in the tombs in which men lie; but, decorate them as we may, they are tombs still, memorials of our frailty and of our helplessness. In view of the certainties of life we ought to have great governing principles. If life were all uncertain together; if death might or might not occur; if we may possibly continue as households century after century; then we may adopt a different basis of calculation: but seeing that our breath is in our nostrils, and that our truest and tenderest relations may at any moment be broken up, seeing that death must come within a few years to the strongest of us all, certainly it is not unreasonable to pause awhile and to consider what we are and whither we are going. The presence of death amid all our living relations is the one fact which the preacher should lay hold of as supplying a fountain of exhortation. We can die in one of two ways: either as believers, or as unbelievers. Dying as unbelievers, we pass into the everlasting darkness without one solitary ray to mitigate the gloom; passing into the future as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can give one another a good hope of reunion amid imperishable conditions of blissful growth. This latter consolation is no ephemeral or insubstantial consideration; it continually turns itself into stimulus and energy, and day by day it lightens the burden and softens the hardness of life. The Christian hope of immortality is not a future blessing; it is an immediate inspiration.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 49". Parker's The People's Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jpb/psalms-49.html. 1885-95.