Psalm Photos – 49 – Dust

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Lent, Psalms

Psalm 49

Hear this, all you peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world,

both low and high, rich and poor together.

My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.

Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,

those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?

Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life, there is no price one can give to God for it.

For the ransom of life is costly, and can never suffice

that one should live on forever and never see the grave.

When we look at the wise, they die; fool and dolt perish together and leave their wealth to others.

Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they named lands their own.

Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like the animals that perish.

Such is the fate of the foolhardy, the end of those who are pleased with their lot. Selah

Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; straight to the grave they descend, and their form shall waste away; Sheol shall be their home.

But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah

Do not be afraid when some become rich, when the wealth of their houses increases.

For when they die they will carry nothing away; their wealth will not go down after them.

Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy—for you are praised when you do well for yourself—

they will go to the company of their ancestors, who will never again see the light.

Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like the animals that perish.

—-

Today is Ash Wednesday…From ashes we came…to ashes we will return. This Psalm was so appropriate to this day – a day of repentance and recognizing how those things we think are so important – our “stuff”, even our bodies will eventually come to dust. The Psalm speaks of the wealthy, but I think it can be expanded to all of those “idols” we have in our lives. All of those idols will eventually crumble and perish.

The last line immediately made me think of this picture I took at Rowe Woods last summer in what they called their “Boneyard” – it was the place that the Nature Center collected the bodies of animals and left them there. I saw this skull there. It reminded me then and reminds me still today of how my body, my things, my idols will one day look similar to this. But what will last is the ways that I live in generosity, compassion, grace, and love in Christ. That is what will remain and flourish.

It is from ashes that I came. To ashes I will return.

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