13 This is the fate of those who trust in

  themselves, and of their followers, who approve  

  their sayings.

14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;

   death will be their shepherd (but the upright

   will prevail over them in the morning).

Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their  

   princely mansions.


15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the

   dead; he will surely take me to himself.

16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,

   when the splendor of their houses increases;

17 for they will take nothing with them when they

  die, their splendor will not descend with them.

18 Though while they live they count themselves

  blessed — and people praise you when you


19 they will join those who have gone before

  them, who will never again see the light of life.


   We have more in common with the Korahites (to whom today’s Psalm is attributed) than we may know. Psalm 43, also attributed to the clan, reads like a prototype of the psalm that cries out to God for justice against oppressors: “Vindicate me, my God…Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” (Psalm 43). Psalm 49 feels similar, specifically exhorting the lowly against those whose houses have received splendor (v. 16). But the sons of Korah have played more than just the role of the oppressed. Only a remnant of the Korahites were spared by God from a consuming earthquake that claimed a majority following a failed coup against Moses and Aaron (Num 16). And from these questionable roots, the Korahites rose to prominence as respected expert warriors during the reign of King David (1 Chr 12:6). Hear your own voice joining them in both the power and powerlessness in the tension expressed in Psalm 49, and invite Jesus to redeem you in both roles.



O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, both sacrificial sheep and stewarding shepherd arriving in splendor this Advent; free us from both the dismay we feel when faced with the growing splendor of our idols, and the injustice we, as oppressors at one point or another in our stories, have wrought. Find us as both the author and the object of these cries of injustice, and help us anticipate your coming in both circumstances.

Nick Cox