The bible is always concerned that we do not forget our mortality. It is not the concern of the writers to cause us fear or worry our future, but rather that we put our focus on the God who can redeem us. Psalm 49, among many other passages, contrasts those who trust in riches with those who trust in God. And as we find so often the bible there is a realism that addresses issues that we recognise but do not always consider with respect to the existence of God. It rightly identifies “They call their lands after their own names.” (Psa 49:11b) We are perhaps less familiar with lands being called after a particular person, though Bolivia, Columbia and Ghana are three examples. But we are very familiar with the rich calling buildings after themselves. But the bible wants us to realise that whether our name continues on a building or other structure makes no difference to us in eternity. Others may honour us for a time, but as attitudes change sometimes that honour is reversed, but it is not how men honour us in this life that is important. But whether God honours us! Jesus spoke of the most sobering verses I know when He said, “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Joh 5:44 If we are concerned that others honour us, whether by having buildings named after us or by other means, we are missing the most important matter and that is does God honour us. And God honours those that do as he asks, those that seek Him, those that walk in his ways those that are always concerned that he approves of their actions and lifestyle.
But the psalmist does not only point out the folly of seeking to have our name remembered among men. He also focuses our attention on other important truths, for example "For the redemption of their souls is costly" (Psa 49:8a). Perhaps seeing the ritual and the temple sacrifices God had ordained , gave him some idea of the cost of redemption, but he probably had no real awareness that the true cost of our redemption would be the death of God’s own dear Son. The psalmist goes on with confidence to proclaim: But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. (Psa 49:15) What confidence he had in the One in whom he believed!
What are you seeking? To be honoured by God and to be sure and confident that you will be with him forever, or are you trying to establish your reputation on this earth? It may be that you won’t have a building or a scholarship named after you, but perhaps you hope to achieve some leverl of success in your chosen field so that yourname is remembered in the future. Paul is very bold in his consideration of earthly glory: Php 3:8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. Do you have a similar attitude?
I commend to you a meditation on Psalm 49 during the coming month, so that you fully understand the message that it wants to give you.