Trouble has a strange way of bringing out the best and the worst in people. You often get a glimpse of things about yourself that you and or other people don’t normally see displayed. When the “heat of life” is on sometimes we rise above it and evidences of the Lord’s grace shine forth. Consider Peter’s words in chapter one of his first letter to the persecuted believers of his day…
“In this [the work of God described in verses 1-5] you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 esv
So, trouble can been a means of purifying us and revealing the genuiness of our faith (or lack of it). However, it must be borne in mind that trouble often brings with it the temptation to fear. It often shakes us up and it has a way (God has a way of using it…I should say) of revealing where our trust truly lies.
Psalm 49 addresses this issue of trouble revealing where a person’s trust really lies. The writers of this psalm also expose the stupidity of trusting anything other than the LORD for salvation.
Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
6those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
8for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice,
9that he should live on forever
and never see the pit.
In this psalm we see the stupidity of trusting in wealth. The psalmist begins to zero in on this in verse 5. The temptation to fear comes because the psalmist is troubled by the sin of people who trust in their wealth. Now…we don’t get much of a peek at exactly how he’s being troubled, but I think it’s safe to make at least one assumption given the context of this passage. I think it is safe to assume that part of the psalmist’s “trouble” is that he is tempted to envy the wealthy or to think that they are somehow more secure than he is.
But then the heart of the issue is revealed. When it gets down to it, all the money in the world isn’t worth trusting, in times of trouble or any other time for that matter. And the reason for this is that while money can buy a lot of things, it cannot save you from the grave.
All the money in the world will not buy you an escape from the just (fair, righteous) punishment of God…death.
God is Holy and He must punish sin. He cannot let guilty people go unpunished, and simply put, all of us are guilty. We are all guilty of sinning against God and His holiness. We have a debt…a huge debt…One that can’t be erased with cash.
“Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.” verse 7-9
Folks, this is bad news. Man cannot redeem himself. Period. Not with money, not with church attendance, not with good works, not with anything. We are powerless to save ourselves. But there is good news….
“But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” Verse 15
God does what is humanly impossible! He ransoms/redeems sinful people. He saves them from the pit. From the grave. From captivity to Satan and sin! Implication? Don’t trust in your wealth…or anything else YOU have or YOU can do. Trust the LORD! God has provided for the salvation of lost people in the Life, death and resurrection of His sinless Son Jesus! All those who trust in him will be ransomed!
Jesus said in the book of Mark that He didn’t come “…to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) esv