Today we read the last of the psalms by the sons of Korah. In psalm 49, the psalmist has a word for all people, both rich and poor. The psalmist shares wisdom on trusting in wealth or envying the wealthy – “Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him – For the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever – that he shall continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit” (Psalm 49:6-9).
So there is something money can’t buy, and that is salvation. No amount of material wealth will be enough to redeem a soul. We are redeemed by God’s atoning sacrifice, which comes at a cost much higher than any material wealth. Our sins are atoned for through the shedding of the blood of the innocent on behalf of the guilty. After Adam and Eve listened to the wrong voice in the Garden of Eden and disobeyed the Lord resulting in the fall, God made a promise that He would send a Savior to redeem them (Genesis 3:15). Then the Lord sacrificed an innocent animal and covered Adam and Eve with its skin (Genesis 3:21). This was a picture of the Savior who is coming to shed His innocent blood as the final Sacrifice for the sins of the world (Hebrews 10:12). Those who trust in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ will not see hell; they will live eternally in heaven with the Lord.
The psalmist explains that although the rich will receive honor and praise here on earth from men, they will have nothing at the end of their life if their trust is in their wealth and not in Christ – “Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lives he blesses himself (for men will praise you when you do well for yourself), he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light” (Psalm 49:16-19).
When Jesus arrives on the scene, He will also warn the rich:
- “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24).
- “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24-25).
And Paul will later say, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
The Bible is not saying rich people can’t go to heaven. We have seen examples throughout the story. Abraham and David are two examples of men who were wealthy, but they did not put their trust in their wealth — they trusted in the Lord. The Scriptures are warning that riches can be a spiritual stumbling block. Therefore, the rich should guard themselves from the distractions that can come with being wealthy. But there are also spiritual stumbling blocks that come with being poor. That is why the Psalmist, Agur, asked in Proverbs 30 not to make him rich or poor. He knew the struggles that come with both.
The Lord uses both the wealthy and the poor to accomplish His purposes. His blessings are not found in the abundance or lack of material riches. His blessings are found through a relationship with Him. Therefore, we can not place our hope in anything or anyone in this world, only the Lord.
Tomorrow the Lord has a word for the wicked. Keep reading. (Psalms 47-49, Psalms 84-85, 87)