Songs of victory and celebration have come before and now we find a song of wisdom. It is narrated as if it were an old, old story passed down in words and music. This is the seventh time we have been through the cycles of seven psalms but it is not a vision of heaven as they have been. This is a story of the gatekeeper who sits on the steps at the gate of the city as he speaks to those who have come.
49. A Wisdom Song
Hear this all my people, give an ear even all the inhabitants of the earth, both meek and mighty, rich and poor together. I shall speak of wisdom and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding. I have heard a story and I will make it into lyrics with music.
Why should I fear when the evil days come?
When the troubles that follow seem ready to swallow me whole.
Many trust in their riches and claim they have safety,
But no one is able to save his own brother, nor give unto God the ransom He seeks.
Redeeming their souls has value past measure,
For once they are lost there is no going back.
We seek life eternal where there is no corruption.
Wise men die, like the fools and violent, they leave their wealth for others to claim.
They might wish their line to go on for ever, their castles be home to all of their heirs,
They even name the land after themselves:
But death respects a man the same as all other beasts.
It is foolish to think it isnít so, but those who follow repeat the mistake, and so it goes.
Like sheep they go to their graves where death feeds on them.
With their beauty consumed, in the morning the living own them.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of death, and I will go to Him, itís true.
Donít be afraid when someone becomes rich, even if itís you and your glory is increased.
When you die the riches canít go with you, and the glory of this life stays behind,
No matter what blessings you put on yourself, or what other men say or think.
The dead only follow the path thatís well worn, to a place where there is no light.
Though a man be honorable, if he doesnít understand, he will perish as the beast.
It doesnít get any clearer than this. There will come a time when either your soul will be redeemed, or it wonít. Wealth, power and even wisdom are not of any value here and there is no going back to try to fix things. We might have seen twenty-five thousand days come and go already and the question always comes, ďWhat happened to all that time?Ē A day lived with God is a day that remains forever. If we live enough of those days, there will be enough of us present to climb those steps and enter the gate. If we have not, then we wonít be able to mount the first step. The gatekeeper doesnít need to keep us out, we do that ourselves.
In these cycles of psalms describing action, thinking and emotions we find contact and discovery inside and out. We discover ourselves in relation to the new world around us and we see better the relation of our memories to present circumstances. We are in this very present moment and nowhere else. We began this cycle with a set of three concerning a desert of doubt. Then there was given a look at the being were are meant to become who is able to enter the gate of the heavenly city. In these last three we have been shown the city and its wonders.
Taken together, these are a portrait of a human on his path of discovery; ďLike a deer looking for water,Ē it begins. For each point of despair we feel there is also a corresponding hope and we are perfectly balanced between them. Death is either the end of life or the doorway to something larger. The power we are given is not for making that good or evil, but of choosing which way to look and what to see. Psalm 49 brings us to that ultimate choice: do we follow what our reason tells us is true, or do we choose to live according to our hopes?