Psalms 49:11 MEANING

Psalm 49:11
(11) Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever.--These eleven words represent three in the Hebrew, and, as the text stands, give its sense, which is intelligible and consistent:

"They believe their houses will last for ever,

Their dwelling places from generation to generation;

They call the lands by their own names."

The reading followed by the LXX., Chaldee, and Syriac, kibram for kirbam gives a different thought--

"Their graves are their homes,

Their dwelling places for ever."

(Comp. "his long home," Ecclesiastes 12:5.)

The last clause, which literally runs, they call in their names upon lands, is by some explained (see Isaiah 44:5) to mean, "they are celebrated in their lands," which suits the text followed by the LXX.

Verse 11. - Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations. Still, though they know this, the rich and worldly have an idea - an "inward thought" - which they cherish, that they can m a certain sense escape death by founding families and leaving to their children substantial houses, which will keep up the family reputation, and accumulating landed estates, to which they may affix their name, so keeping their memories alive to future ages. They call their lands after their own names (see Genesis 10:2, 4, 6, 22, 23, 29, etc.; and compare the Greek traditions with respect to Hellen, Ion, Achaeus, Pelops, Cadmus, etc.). To call cities after their own names, or the names of their sons, was a still commoner practice of great men in the olden times (Genesis 4:17; Genesis 11:31; Exodus 1:11; 'Records of the Past,' vol. 1. p. 14; vol. 3. pp. 45, 92, 112; vol. 7. pp. 32, 39, etc.).

49:6-14 Here is a description of the spirit and way of worldly people. A man may have wealth, and may have his heart enlarged in love, thankfulness, and obedience, and may do good with it. Therefore it is not men's having riches that proves them to be worldly, but their setting their hearts upon them as the best things. Worldly men have only some floating thoughts of the things of God, while their fixed thoughts, their inward thoughts, are about the world; that lies nearest the heart. But with all their wealth they cannot save the life of the dearest friend they have. This looks further, to the eternal redemption to be wrought out by the Messiah. The redemption of the soul shall cost very dear; but, being once wrought, it shall never need to be repeated. And he, the Redeemer, shall rise again before he sees corruption, and then shall live for evermore, Re 1:18. This likewise shows the folly of worldly people, who sell their souls for that which will never buy them. With all their wealth they cannot secure themselves from the stroke of death. Yet one generation after another applaud their maxims; and the character of a fool, as drawn by heavenly Wisdom itself, Lu 12:16-21, continues to be followed even among professed Christians. Death will ask the proud sinner, Where is thy wealth, thy pomp? And in the morning of the resurrection, when all that sleep in the dust shall awake, the upright shall be advanced to the highest honour, when the wicked shall be filled with everlasting shame and contempt, Da 12:2. Let us now judge of things as they will appear in that day. The beauty of holiness is that alone which the grave cannot touch, or damage.Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever,.... This is the thought of their hearts, what they secretly imagine, and conclude within themselves; either that their families, which may be meant by their houses, see 2 Samuel 3:1; shall continue in succeeding ages, to the end of the world, to inherit their possessions, and perpetuate their name; though often so it is, that great families become extinct, and the seed of the wicked is cut off: or that their magnificent buildings, which they have erected to dwell in, and for their honour and glory, shall abide for ever; though in a little time, so it is by one means or another, like the buildings of the temple, not one stone is left upon another. Or the words may be rendered, "in the midst of them" (their heirs to whom they leave their wealth) "their houses shall remain for ever", so Aben Ezra; that is, so they fancy they will; but this is not always true, for fine houses and large estates belonging to them often pass into other hands and families. The word rendered "their inward part", by a transposition of two letters in it may be read "their graves", as Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech observe; and to this sense the Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions render the words: and then the meaning is, that of all the houses they have built or been possessed of, they have only one left, and that is the grave; in which they shall dwell until the resurrection, and therefore is called "a long home", Ecclesiastes 12:5; see Job 17:13;

and their dwelling places to all generations; which signify the same as before;

they call their lands after their own names; as Egypt was called Mizraim, Ethiopia was called Cush, and Palestine Canaan, from men who were the first possessors of them, Genesis 10:6. Or "they proclaim their names throughout the land" (x); they seek to get a name, and spread and continue it in all part of the world; being unconcerned about their names being written in heaven, or about having a house not made with hands eternal there.

(x) So Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis.

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