A Proverb in a Song: part 9

“Their graves are their everlasting homes—

tabernacles from generation to generation;

they proclaim loudly by their own name over the land.”

(Psalm 49:12 {Psalm 49:11 in English})

 

Not only will all face death—both the wise and the foolish, great and small, but apart from God, there is none who can escape the grave.  No matter who you are or what you have done, the grave awaits all as a final home.  There are none—save Jesus—who have entered the grave and risen from it, thus where else but Jesus can one find hope?  You would not trust your car to a mechanic who had never lifted the hood; you would not trust yourself to a heart surgeon who had never performed a successful operation; why would you trust your eternal soul to one who never left the grave?  Jesus left the grave and promised his followers that he would bring us through the grave as well—that sounds like a pretty safe bet, but oh, how many would deny Him and seek their own pathway only to their own destruction.

There is some discussion as to the meaning of the final clause in this verse.  It is a Hebrew idiom that is often translated as speaking of how people name lands after themselves in their vanity, yet still find themselves buried in those same lands.  Regardless of how you understand the idiom, there certainly is an ironic link here between these lands and the graves wherein the people will make their final homes.  Yet, I think that there may be something more going on with this verse.  The language of proclaiming (or speaking boldly) in one’s own name is also used of the activity of God (Exodus 34:5-7).  In this passage, God is essentially invoking his own name to give force to what it is that he is going to say next—specifically in context, it is a statement about his sovereignty.  God does not proclaim by his name very often, but when he does, we should take notice, because it is adding force to what he is about to say next.  It is as if God is couching the force of the next statement in the very nature of his being.  If we take this, then and apply it back to our verse, we may also interpret this, then, as the unbeliever essentially seeking to make a bad imitation of God.  They seek to pronounce their authority by their own name upon the land, yet the land will still consume them in the end.

How easy it is to become arrogant and to begin to think of ourselves in terms of our own authority, power and might.  But, beloved, how short-lived our influence is.  In the scope of eternity, only one person has made a difference, and that person is Jesus Christ.  How silly and foolish it is for us to seek to pronounce things by our own names when we cannot order the events of today, let alone, tomorrow.  How foolish and arrogant we become before the eyes of God when we trust in our own might and not in the might of Him who formed us and who called us from before the creation of the world.

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