We don’t have cable, but on a recent trip we enjoyed the luxury of plopping down on a family member’s couch and willing the remote to flip through all our favorite TV channels.
While exploring what we’ve been missing since making the choice to cut out television, we landed on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing – a reality show following the manic schedule of New York real estate brokers, their flamboyant clients, and their jaw-dropping listings.
And while we were mesmerized by the luxurious homes they were pushing (radically different from my own), the show was made even juicier by the cast’s cutthroat maneuvering and worldly outlooks. Prestige was the end game. And where you lived and how much your home cost said more about you than the state of your relationships and personal integrity.
But as much as I hate to say it, the Million Dollar Listing didn’t start with the Bravo network.
Ps. 49 tells us about wealthy men who take mistaken pride in their homes and dwelling places long before the birth of pent houses and high-rise apartment living. And Ps. 49 tells us their greatest mistake, too: the belief that their homes and land would last forever (vs 11-12).
“This is the way of those who are foolish,
And of their posterity who approve their sayings.” (Ps. 49:13)
Why? Because all people – no matter our belongings, prestige, or power on earth – face a universal end in the grave.
This psalm tells us we can count on these three things to pass away:
- power (49:14)
- beauty (49:14)
- belongings (49:14)
We see this truth reflected is vs 15: “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah.”
As I became mesmerized by the glitz and glamour of the Million Dollar Listing (oh, the heels, alfresco cafes, and indoor pools!) i found myself in a difficult spot. My cozy seat on the couch turned into a sort of throne, and I began to size up the hearts and deeds of those on the show.
And while there is much about this show that is rightly judged as foolish, simply because wealth is not eternal does mean it is evil.
Vs. 20 says: “A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, Is like the beasts that perish.” Vs 20 uses a play on words to illustrate the futile nature of placing too great a significance on temporal qualities and objects. The psalmist uses the word ‘adam for man and its derivative damah for perish, giving the sense that just as man is made from dust he will one day return to that from which he was made.
The foolishness of man is not simply placing greater significance on things than we should, but in considering ourselves greater than we truly are.
Conversely, wisdom is in knowing who has “received” us (vs. 15). The word received in vs. 15 is the word laqash which means” to take.” The NIV translates it: “take me to himself.”
OT scholar Derek Kidner says of this verse: “salvation is personal from start to finish.” In our redemption, our Savior pays the ransom for our soul with his own life, and because of that, “nothing can separate the servant from his Master, whose concern for him is loving and active.”
Our lives have value not because of what we’ve done or how we look, but because we belong to the Christ – who eternally takes us to himself.
Dear Jesus, help me remember that my identity in Christ Jesus – who paid the ransom for my soul – is the greatest indicator of my personal worth. Too often I get caught up in other earthy indicators that have no lasting value. Help me remember those things don’t last. Help me find eternal eyes through which to view myself and others. Thank you for your insanely personal touch in my life. You reached down and redeemed me. You laid hold of me and brought me back to you. Your life gives mine its value. I love you, Jesus. In your holy name, Amen.
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Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72 (Downer Grove: IVP Academic, 1973), 202.