Our reading today begins with a wisdom Psalm. The wisdom being shared is about not seeing with earthly eyes (see Matt 6:19-24). The Psalmist calls for all people to hear his wisdom (49:1), whether rich or poor, upper class or lower class (v. 2). And he asks: why should earthly troubles make him afraid (v. 5)? Why should the oppression by the rich bother him at all (v. 6)? Can the rich save the poor? No! No amount of earthly goods matters for salvation (v. 7). Even the richest man will go to hell without God’s salvation (v. 9).
Both the wise and foolish die, and as they say of wealth, “you can’t take it with you” (v. 10). No matter what you own in life, you wind up in the ground (v. 11), just like any other animal (v. 12). So confidence in wealth is foolish (v. 13). Our confidence belongs only in God Who saves (vv. 14-15). So don’t compare yourself with people based on earthly treasures (v. 16). Even if they appear “blessed” in this life, if their confidence is in their wealth, they are headed for death (vv. 17-20).
Psalm 50 is a Psalm about God’s righteous judgment. God calls all the people of the earth to Himself (50:1). That He does this “out of Zion” points us to the role of the church – God’s spiritual people – on the earth (v. 2). For God is coming in judgment (v. 3), both of man and heavenly beings (v. 4 – see Isa 24:21). He will call to Himself the righteous by faith – those of the New Covenant (v. 5) – and the righteous angels (v. 6).
God then indicts the physical people (v. 7). They are right to sacrifice unto God (v. 8), but whatever they have to offer Him is really already His (vv. 9-11). God needs nothing from man (vv. 12-13), but He desires thanksgiving and trust in Him (vv. 14-15). So the worship of the wicked will not be accepted (v. 16) because of their wicked ways (vv. 17-20). They have done these things without being judged, but God will judge them (v. 21). They misunderstand Who God is if they think otherwise. The wicked are called to repent or be judged (v. 22), but the righteous who offers God what He wants will be saved (v. 23).