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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 49:18

 

 

Though while he lives he congratulates himself-- And though men praise you when you do well for yourself--

Adam Clarke Commentary

He blessed his soul - He did all he could to procure himself animal gratifications, and he was applauded for it; for it is the custom of the world to praise them who pay most attention to their secular interest; and he who attends most to the concerns of his soul is deemed weak and foolish, and is often persecuted by an ungodly world.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-49.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Though while he lived - Margin, as in Hebrew, “in his life.” More literally, “in his lives.” The idea is, as long as he lived.

He blessed his soul - That is, he blessed himself; he congratulated himself; he regarded his condition as desirable and enviable. He “took airs” upon himself; he felt that his was a happy lot; he expected and demanded respect and honor from others on account of his wealth. He commended himself as having evinced sagacity in the means by which he acquired wealth - thus imparting honor to himself; and he congratulated himself on the result, as placing him in a conditiOn above want, and in a condition that entitled him to honor. A striking illustration of this feeling is found in the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12:19, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

And men will praise thee - Others will praise thee. He not only blessed or commended himself, but he might expect that others would praise and congratulate him also. They would regard him as a happy man; happy, because he had been thus successful; happy, because he had accumulated that which was the object of so universal desire among people. Success, though founded on that which is entitled to no praise, and which is even the result of unprincipled conduct, often secures the temporary praise of men, while a want of success, though connected with the strictest, sternest virtue, is often followed by neglect, or is even regarded as proof that he who fails has no claim to honor.

When thou doest well to thyself - Well, in reference to success in life, or in the sense that thou art prospered. Your industry, your sagacity, your prosperity will be the theme of commendation. To a certain extent, where this does not lead to self flattery and pride, it is proper and right. The virtues which ordinarily contribute to prosperity “are” worthy of commendation, and should be held up to the example of the young. But what is evil and wrong in the matter here referred to is that the man‘s commendation of himself, and the commendation by others, all tends to foster a spirit of pride and self-confidence; to make the soul easy and satisfied with the condition; to produce the feeling that all is gained which needs to be gained; to make the possessor of wealth arrogant and haughty; and to lead him to neglect the higher interests of the soul.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-49.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Though while he lived he blessed his soul,.... Praised and extolled himself on account of his acquisitions and merit; or proclaimed himself a happy man, because of his wealth and riches; or foolishly flattered himself with peace, prosperity, and length of days, and even with honour and glory after death;

and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself; or "butF11ויודך "atque celebraverint te", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. men will praise thee", &c. both rich and poor, all wise men; when, as the Jewish interpretersF12Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Kimchi & Ben Melech in loc. generally explain the word, a man regards true wisdom and religion, and is concerned for the welfare of his soul more than that of his body; or "when thou thyself doest well": that is, to others, doing acts of beneficence, communicating to the necessities of the poor; or rather, "when thou doest well to thyself", by enjoying the good things of life, taking his portion, eating the fruit of his labour, which is good and comely; see Ecclesiastes 5:18.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-49.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and n [men] will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

(n) The flatterers praise them who live in delight and pleasures.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-49.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

lived, etc. — literally, “For in his life he blessed his soul,” or, “himself” (Luke 12:19, Luke 16:25); yet (Psalm 49:19); he has had his portion.

men will praise … thyself — Flatterers enhance the rich fool‘s self-complacency; the form of address to him strengthens the emphasis of the sentiment.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-49.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

Blessed — He applauded himself as an happy man.

Men — And as he flatters himself, so parasites flatter him for their own advantage.

When — When thou dost indulge thyself, and advance thy worldly interest.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-49.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

18For he will bless his soul in his lifetime Various meanings have been attached to this verse. Some read, He ought to have blessed his soul during his life Others apply the first clause of the verse to the wicked, while they refer the second to believers, who are in the habit of praising God for all his benefits. Others understand the whole verse as descriptive of believers, but without sufficient ground. There can be little doubt that the reference is to the children of the world. In the first part of the verse it is said that they bless their own soul (233) so long as they live on earth, by which is meant, that they indulge and pamper themselves with earthly pleasures, giving way to the excesses of brutish intemperance, like the rich man, of whom Christ spoke in the parable, who said,

“Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry,” — (Luke 12:19)

or that they seek their happiness entirely from this world, without cherishing a desire for the life that is to come. Some translate the Hebrew verb, he will do good, and read thus, He will do good to his own soul in his lifetime. But I conceive the phrase to be synonymous in its import with that which is employed by Moses,

“And it come to pass, that he bless himself in his heart;”
(
Deuteronomy 29:19,)

that is, flatter himself as if he might despise God with impunity. The inspired penman here represents the stupidity of such as please themselves with a fallacious dream of happiness. In the latter part of the verse the person is changed, and the votary of pleasure is apostrophised; (234) the prophet insinuating, by the words he uses, that the preposterous pride with which the wicked are inflamed is in part the consequence of the delusive applause of the world, which pronounces them to be happy, and echoes their praises even when they gratify their most unlicensed passions.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-49.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

SUCCESS

‘For while he lived, he counted himself an happy man: and so long as thou doest well unto thyself, men will speak good of thee.’

Psalms 49:18 (Prayer Book Version)

‘Nothing succeeds like success’ is a proverb invented by a famous man of the world, and of the truth of it from the world’s point of view there is no denying.

I. The uncertainty of success.—In our text we have first the fact, and secondly, the motive of that success which is of the earth earthy. Its motive is selfishness, doing well to oneself, looking after one’s own interests, and making them the supreme consideration. Then again its nature is to be satisfied with present temporal conditions, not to trouble about any higher life than that of the time and sense. The most striking feature about this forty-ninth psalm is the author’s firm conviction that in a future state the scale of fortune will be readjusted. Nowhere else do we find a Jewish writer contentedly permitting the final issue of the adjustment of the things of this world to the life beyond the grave. What we find asserted here so strongly is the unreality of the success which is not achieved on the eternal principles of righteousness. How true to life and experience is that expression ‘He counted himself an happy man’! How it brings out the situation of contented enjoyment, which is assumed in place of the genuine thing; the affectation of interest for the sake of mere appearance; the hypocritical sentiments mouthed out in order that the world may exclaim ‘What a noble fellow is here!’ And yet there is always the haunting, ever-present consciousness of secret failure, the knowledge that nothing is quite what it seems. And is there not another element in success, as the world counts it, which, even when success has been fairly and squarely won, goes very far to discount its worth? One sees that so much is due not to real merit but to the chance disposition of circumstance—the luck of an examination which comes once in a lifetime, the luck of particular questions set, which places you, perchance, in the class list just above a much better man than yourself, and he loses the prize which is the making of your career. The sensible man of discrimination knows and recognises all this and appraises his success at its true worth.

II. The intrinsic worth of success.—We can only say, then, that failure and success in this world are too often but uncertain and capricious things. The all-important question for each is that which concerns the intrinsic worth of success in life. ‘For while he lived, he counted himself a happy man.’ The inference is, I suppose, that when he died he found out his mistake. The answer that follows is full of irony: ‘so long as thou doest well unto thyself, men will speak good of thee’; of course they will. All the world cares about is that you should keep up appearances. And the same vaunting world is not slow to extend its appreciation to success achieved by its own methods even in the very presence of Christ. There is the religious partisan who prays for every one but himself, and to whom no conscience is sacred but his own. The world rewards him with its votes.

III. The right side to success.—Nevertheless there is a right and wholesome side to the world’s worship of success, for surely we were not sent here to court failure. There is a depreciation of success that is nothing but unreasoning affectation. It boasts of the so-called failure of the Cross, forgetting that our Lord’s ministry on earth ended not with the Cross but with the Resurrection and the Ascension. Christ never speaks of failure, but looks forward to the restoration of all things. What the Christian should deprecate is not success, but sham, false success—the success which does not last, that which is of the earth, earthy.

—Archdeacon Bevan.

Illustration

‘No more significant truth exists, perhaps, to show the slight correspondence between success and merit, than the fact that the self-same man—by the exercise of the self-same powers—may at one time succeed and at another fail. Edmund Kean, acting in stable buildings to farm servants, and gaining bread for his wife and children, was just as great a genius as when crowned in Drury Lane. When George Stephenson died amid the applause and gratitude of the people, he was the same man, maintaining the same principles, as when he was scorned by all.’


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/psalms-49.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 49:18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and [men] will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

Ver. 18. Though whilst he lived he blessed his soul] As that rich fool did, Luke 12:16-21, and that king of France, who, puffed up with the marriage of his sister to the king of Spain, called him by a new title, Tres-heureuse Roi, the thrice happy king; but was soon after accidentally slain by the captain of his guard running at tilt with him, at the solemnizing of that same marriage, in the very beginning of his supposed happiness.

And men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself] Feathering thine own nest and pampering thine own carcase; thou shalt be sure of parasites and trencher flies, who will highly commend thee, though against their own consciences, Romans 1:32. The world generally admireth the happiness of such as live at full, and ask what should such a one ail? The Irish ask what they meant to die?


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-49.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 49:18. Though while he lived, &c.— Houbigant, after many of the ancient versions, renders this, Though in life he indulges himself, and will praise thee so long as thou shalt do well to him, Psalms 49:19. Yet shall he go, &c. Mudge gives nearly the same sense with this version: Though whilst he lived he felicitated his soul, and men praised thee, that thou usedst thyself well. His gloss is, "Though he lived ever so luxuriously, and men talked of him as one who vixit dum vixit bene, lived well as long as he lived." The change of the number in our version, as well as in this of Mudge, appears very aukward, unless we are to suppose it a clause of general admonition thrown in by the Psalmist, signifying, "that so long as you live in a state of luxury and opulence, indulging your bodily appetites, you will always find flatterers and parasites sufficient to applaud you."

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The Psalmist, with solemnity, introduces his important discourse, and calls upon all, both high and low, to attend the lessons of instruction that he was about to deliver. The one that they might know the vanity of their possessions; the other, that they might be content in the want of them, nor envy those who enjoyed them. His subject was concerning the truest wisdom, and he spoke after deep meditation: his discourse might indeed appear to the world parabolical and dark; but he desired so to incline his own ear to divine teaching, that he might be enabled to make the matter clear to others, and with his harp engage, by pleasing harmony, the ears of others to listen to his song. Note; (1.) The poor need as much be warned against envy and discontent, as the rich against pride and worldly confidence. (2.) Divine subjects should be spoken of with great thought and seriousness. (3.) What we inculcate on others, we must recommend by our own practice. (4.) Music answers its original design when employed to convey, or imprint, the sentiments of Divine wisdom.

2nd, Having engaged attention, he begins to open his parable. He describes,

1. The security of gracious souls, and intimates how unspeakably superior that is to all worldly wealth. In the days of affliction they are delivered from all distressing fear, with which worldly men are overwhelmed; and even in death and judgment, when iniquity compasseth about the sinner, and riches profit not in the day of wrath, every faithful soul shall be confident in the pardoning love of a reconciled God. Note; A sense of God's love, and the near prospect of glory, are infinitely more precious than thousands of gold and silver.

2. The insufficiency of worldly riches to ransom a brother from the hand of death, or disease, or to save his soul from hell. No gifts can bribe or secure from the arrest of God's messengers; no riches profit in the day of wrath, to suspend the sentence, or prevent its execution. The soul is too precious to be purchased by corruptible things, such as silver and gold: if the blood of Jesus, and the redemption which is in him, be neglected, all other price is fruitless; and the sinner perishes for ever.

3rdly, Two reasons are here further urged, why the faithful should endure want in patient hope, and neither fear nor envy the prosperity of the proud.

1. Because in death the soul of the faithful believer has hope: for the Lord will redeem him from the power of the grave, and receive him into his everlasting arms of love: the same Jesus who has paid the price of his redemption, will assuredly raise him up at the last day.

2. Because the end of the proud and ungodly is terrible. In the present dispensation of God's providence, indeed, they are frequently seen to flourish; their riches flow in like a river; their families increase; their names are respected; they bless themselves, as if they had heaven's favour, and say, Soul, take thine ease; whilst others foolishly follow their example, and encourage the deceit; praising their worldly wisdom, and admiring them as the truly happy men. Such general approbation, and apparent prosperity, might be apt to awaken the envy, or excite the fears, of the righteous. But there is no cause for either: this big-swoln worm is dust of the earth, and returning quickly to the grave: thither, neither his riches, honour, nor fame can descend: among his fathers his sepulchre will be found; and, when once he has left the light of this sun, the outer and eternal darkness must receive him, without one glimpse of hope or joy for ever. Such is the miserable end of the proud man, who neglects the concerns of eternity for the vanities of time; and, stupid as the beasts which perish, understandeth not the things that make for his everlasting peace. Note; (1.) We must not take our estimation of men from their own vaunts, or the world's admiration, but from the word of God. Many a joyous sinner, many a great character in the earth, whom man blesses, is a wretch in prospect, and under the curse of God. (2.) It is not what we have in this world but what we carry with us into the next, that constitutes the true riches. How unspeakably richer is the poor soul which goes to treasure incorruptible in heaven, than he who leaves behind him of earth's dross thousands and millions! (3.) They only are wise who consider their latter end; and they the most arrant fools, who forget it. (4.) The state of the most loathsome animal is infinitely preferable to that of the brutish sinner: the one dies, and is no more; the other, after a life of sinful madness, enters upon an eternity of misery.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-49.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He blessed his soul, i.e. he applauded himself as a wise and happy man: compare Luke 12:19.

Men will praise thee: and as he pleaseth and flattereth himself, so he meets with parasites that applaud and flatter him for their own advantage. For he still speaks of the same man, as is manifest from the foregoing and following words, though there be a sudden change of the third into the second person; which is most frequent in these books.

When thou doest well to thyself; when thou dost indulge and please thyself, and advance thy own worldly interest. For the name of good in Scripture is oft ascribed unto the pleasures and profits of this life, as Job 21:13 Psalms 4:6 Ecclesiastes 2:24 4:8 11:9.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-49.html. 1685.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Though = For.

his soul = himself. Hebrew. nephesh.

And men will praise = And [though] men praise thee when, &c.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-49.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.

Though while he lived he blessed his soul - as the rich fool congratulated himself on his own happiness, and blessed his soul (Luke 12:19; cf. note, Psalms 49:11).

And (men) will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself - a sudden transition to a direct address to the rich man: 'and (though) men praise thee because thou treatest thyself well'-because thou grudgest thyself no self-indulgence or luxury (Isaiah 5:22). The apodosis follows in Psalms 49:19, '(Yet) he shall go to the generation of his fathers.' Hengstenberg, instead of "though," translates kiy (Hebrew #3588), 'for he blessed his soul while he lived,' making his blessing his soul in this life and enjoying the praises of men for his self-indulgent luxury the reason why God will not allow his "glory" to "descend after him" (Psalms 49:17; cf. Luke 16:25): God cannot allow men to make a paradise of this sinful world, and yet also to inherit the paradise hereafter.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-49.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) Though, while he lived. . . .—This is abundantly illustrated by our Lord’s parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:19; comp. Deuteronomy 29:19).

And men will.—Rather, and though men praise thee, &c. “Although prosperity produces self-gratulation, and procures the homage of the world as well, yet,” &c


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-49.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself.
while he lived
Heb. in his life. blessed.
Deuteronomy 29:19; Hosea 12:8; Luke 12:19
praise
1 Samuel 25:6; Esther 3:2; Acts 12:20-22; Revelation 13:3,4

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 49:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-49.html.

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