Psalms 49:4 MEANING

Psalm 49:4
(4) I will incline mine ear.--The psalmist first listens, that he may himself catch the inspiration which is to reach others through his song. It was an obvious metaphor in a nation to whom God's voice was audible, as it was to Wordsworth, for whom nature had an audible voice:

"The stars of midnight shall be dear

To her; and she shall lend her ear

In many a secret place,

Where rivulets dance their wayward round,

And beauty, born of murmuring sound,

Shall pass into her face."

Parable.--Heb. m?shal, root idea, similitude. It is the term used of Balaam's prophecies, and of the eloquent speeches of Job. Hence here proverb-song (Ewald), since the psalmist intends his composition for musical accompaniment.

Dark saying.--Either from a root meaning to tie, and so "a knotty point;" or to sharpen, and so a sharp, incisive saying. The LXX. and Vulgate have "problem," "proposition."

To open the riddle is not to solve it, but to propound it, as we say to "open a discourse." (Comp. St. Paul's phrase, "opening and alleging.") The full phrase is probably found in Proverbs 31:26, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom.'"

Verse 4. - I will incline mine ear to a parable. The psalmist is "like a minstrel who has to play a piece of music put into his hands. The strain is none of his own devising; and as he proceeds, each note awakes in him a mysterious echo, which he would fain catch and retain in memory" (Kay). A "parable" in the Old Testament means any enigmatical or dark saying, into which much metaphor or imagery is introduced, so that it is only φωνᾶν συνετοῖσι. I will open my dark saying upon the harp; i.e. with a harp accompaniment. Music was a help to inspired persons in the delivery of messages which they were commissioned to deliver (see 1 Samuel 10:5; 2 Kings 3:15).

49:1-5 We seldom meet with a more solemn introduction: there is no truth of greater importance. Let all hear this with application to ourselves. The poor are in danger from undue desire toward the wealth of the world, as rich people from undue delight in it. The psalmist begins with applying it to himself, and that is the right method in which to treat of Divine things. Before he sets down the folly of carnal security, he lays down, from his own experience, the benefit and comfort of a holy, gracious security, which they enjoy who trust in God, and not in their worldly wealth. In the day of judgment, the iniquity of our heels, or of our steps, our past sins, will compass us. In those days, worldly, wicked people will be afraid; but wherefore should a man fear death who has God with him?I will incline mine ear to a parable,.... In which way of speaking the doctrines of the Gospel were delivered out by Christ, Matthew 13:3. Wherefore the prophet, representing his apostles and disciples, signifies that he would listen thereunto, that he might attain to the knowledge thereof, and communicate it to others;

I will open my dark saying upon the harp; the enigmas, riddles, and mysteries of the Gospel, being understood by the ministers of it, are opened and explained in a very pleasant and delightful manner; they are made clear and evident, and are as a lovely song upon a harp; see Ezekiel 33:32.

Courtesy of Open Bible