First Off…read Psalm 49!
It only takes engaging with different people to fully realize the extent of death. Death doesn’t play by societal rules. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, how much money you make, how kind or mean you are…and it doesn’t matter your ethnicity or cultural background.
Death simply doesn’t care. If you are alive – death will hit you.
Picture our psalmist walking down the street – observing people to their left, right and all around. He sees the rich walking down the street with their gold and jewels dangling and clanging loudly against each other as they walk. A tambourine of jewelry. With their heads held high they are proud of all they have accomplished. And as he walks down the street he also sees the low and humiliated. They have no jewelry that makes noise, no food to give their loved ones. No beautifully crafted clothes drape them and many of them have no place to lay their head. The psalmist sees them both (vs 2).
And as the psalmist continues to walk they see all those that society considers “wise” as well as “foolish.” One group foolishly living lives of haste and waste. Not really understanding what they have or where they are going or even what they need – they waste and throw away what they have – maybe even going about making mistake after mistake. This, in contrast with the other group that is seen: the wise. They are sages, thinkers, and philosophers. They sit and reflect on words, actions, people, and things considered “high above” all others (vs 10). The psalmist sees them both.
And it is in this moment that the psalmist is convicted. I picture them quickly looking around and they find a wooden crate. Something that will allow them to stand up above others so that both the tall and short can see them. Maybe they search around and quickly create a makeshift cone…something they can use to amplify their voice. They need to be seen. They need to be heard. This message is so devastatingly important that no matter the person, the place, the status…all must hear what needs to be said. There is a truth that must be shouted: Anything and everything…will not last (12).
It’s a message we all must hear.
We may count our wealth (12), we may trust in what we can and cannot do (13), we may look to the rich and be envious (16), we may count ourselves “blessed” by what we have and what we know (18) but in the end when we die – we die. We cannot take what we have with us (17) nor can we do anything about it. Death…is death. And death hits us all.
And why is the psalmist so convicted? They have realized this “wisdom” for themselves and they simply cannot continue to see people and society continue down this path of un-forsakenness. They can’t continue to see people seeking and trusting in themselves and things of this world when, in the end, it simply doesn’t matter. I remember seeing a bumper sticker years ago that said, “He who dies with the most toys…still dies.” And that’s the truth.
But what we need to see here is that the psalmist is trying to give wisdom to others. They aren’t trying to be a downer – they simply want people to put trust in where hope is found. Verse 15 tells us that, “God will redeem me from the realm of the dead.” God will not leave the psalmist in decay but will raise him/her up – and take them “to himself.”
This is a reality that all of us have faced and will face time and time again. That everything we as a society and culture deem as important…simply is not. We are a “worldly” society that places nearly everything on “status” and yet time and time again we see that status means nothing in the end.
So this begs the question: what DOES matter? If we are called to not gain status, or wealth, or worldly things…what SHOULD we do?
First off, the psalmist simply wants us to turn to God – the only one who DOES endure. Put our trust in God (vs 15) and nothing else.
Secondly: love. Love like there is no tomorrow. Love like there are no barriers (FYI there ARE no barriers in true authentic love like God’s love). Love like God. Love in action, love in time. Love exactly how YOU are loved by God.
That’s it! Those two things: put your hope in God and simply love. Sounds easy, right? IT IS! However we make it difficult in how we’ve sought worldly things and worldly actions. But it’s really not that hard.
Oh…and here’s one more thing: SHARE YOUR HOPE! Take a page from the psalmist and speak of true hope, true love, and true grace. Let people know that God has NOT left them in the realm of the dead that Jesus Christ overcame sin and death and redeems those that call upon his name. Give them hope and clarity for things of this world will simply drag us down. Take a soapbox and megaphone. Grab some posters and flyers. Plaster FB and twitter with “hope” messages of God and his grace.
Do something. Be the messenger of God’s grace that we all were created to be.