PSALMS 49:16-20: “So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid. For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. In this life, they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success. But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day. People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Do you remember the old television show – “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?” It was a show that highlighted the rich, successful, and famous people of the day. It celebrated their lifestyle, wealth, and possessions. The show endeavored to pull back the curtain for the common man to experience a moment in the life of the elite.
The world we live in worships success, wealth, and notoriety. It worships these more than personal character. As we look at the world and its preoccupation with wealth, success, and fame, the believer may wonder – “Why do the wicked continue to prosper?” We witness the rich and privileged escape justice through expensive attorneys, deceit, and graft. Sometimes it is almost enough to make a Christ-follower lose heart!
This is nothing new. In fact, there is nothing new under the sun. Solomon writes in the book of Ecclesiastes,
- “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 NLT
God’s faithful have struggled with this issue as long as sin has reigned upon the earth. The Psalmist addresses this in the words of the text. The wicked do prosper in this life – but not in the next. In fact, the wicked, who rely upon their wealth and position rather than God, do not even think about the next life. They live only for today. They live as if they will never die. They believe somehow their position in life is eternal. Yet, the truth will one day be evident.
- “Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. In this life, they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success. But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day. People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals.”
It is important to note that the Psalmist does not say that wealthy people do not understand, but that people who trust in their wealth do not understand. Those who trust in their success, wealth, or fame do not understand eternity. And, for this, they are to be pitied. They strive for everything in this life. They are consumed with anger when the affairs of this life are not working to their liking. And, they pass judgment upon others who are different than they are.
The Christ-follower is free from the fear of death. They know that this life is only a temporary journey on their way to eternity. Their security and hope are not tied to their success, wealth, or possessions. It is anchored in Christ alone and the hope of eternal life! They look beyond the moment into the realm of the eternal. They see with eyes of hope and faith. And, they know,
- “But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.” Psalms 49:15 NLT
Just recently, over breakfast, my wife and I were discussing how we were feeling that day. We both were tired, and my wife remarked – “I feel like I am wasting a day!” I responded, “Don’t worry about one day – we have an eternity ahead of us!” Stop and think about that statement. This is the reality of our life in Christ. We have been set free from this world and all of its expectations. Our life does not end when we take our last breath on this earth. We simply take the next step into eternity!
The reality of eternal life should not only give us hope for the future, but it should also give us peace in the present. It helps us understand the fact that everything in this life will one day be accounted for. The wicked do not really prosper. They ultimately lose, not only their possessions and all they have trusted in this life, but also their eternal soul. This understanding should motivate us to put aside any envy and with compassion do everything we can to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
What do we do when the wicked prosper? We remind ourselves of the reality of life and the blessed hope of eternal life. We place our faith and confidence in Christ alone. And, we look forward to the eternal reward that we will receive when we hear these words – “Well done, good and faithful servant!” We hold the things of this life lightly, live with contentment, and share the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ with everyone we can.
Lord, deliver me from fear and envy. Give me spiritual eyes to see and understand the true reality of life. And, move my heart with compassion for those who are lost and are placing their trust in the things that perish. Let my life be a light in the darkness to lead them to faith in Jesus Christ.
In Jesus Name!