- The preface, verse 1-4.
- We need not fear the wicked, verse 5.
- They cannot by their riches save either their friends or themselves from death, verse 6-10.
- They cannot secure happiness to themselves, either in this world or the world to come, verse 11-14.
- He comforts good men against the fear of death, or of the prosperity of the wicked, verse 15-20.
- To the chief musician, A psalm for the sons of Korah.
I will - I will hearken what God by his Spirit speaks to me, and that will I now speak to you. A parable - Which properly is an allegorical speech, but is often taken for an important, and withal, dark doctrine or sentence. Open - I will not smother it in my own breast, but publish it to the world. Dark - So he calls the following discourse, because the thing in question ever hath been thought hard to be understood.
In the days - In times of great distress and calamity, when wicked men flourish, and good men are oppressed. Supplanters - This character fitly agrees to David's enemies, who were not only malicious, but deceitful and treacherous.
Trust - As that which will secure them from calamities. Having said that good men had no cause of fear, from their present sufferings from ungodly men, now he proceeds to shew, that the ungodly had no reason to be secure because of their riches.
Redeem - Neither from the first death, nor from the second. Brother - Whom he would do his utmost to preserve.
Soul - Of their life. Precious - Hard to be obtained. Ceaseth - It is never to be accomplished, by any mere man, for himself or for his brother.
He seeth - Every man sees that all men die, the wise and the foolish; the evil and the good. To others - He saith not to sons or kindred; but to others, because he is wholly uncertain to whom he shall leave them, to friends, or strangers, or enemies; which he mentions as a great vanity in riches. They neither can save them from death, nor will accompany him in and after death; and after his death will be disposed, he knows not how, nor to whom.
Thought - Tho' they are ashamed to express, yet it is their secret hope. Houses - Either their posterity, often called mens houses: or their mansion-houses, as it is explained in the next clause. For ever - To them and theirs in succeeding generations. Call - Fondly dreaming by this means to immortalize their memories.
Man - Living in all splendor and glory. Abideth not - All his dreams of perpetuating his name and estate, shall be confuted by experience.
Way - Their contrivance to immortalize themselves.
Sheep - Which for a season are in sweet pastures, but at the owner's pleasure are led away to the slaughter. Death - The first death shall consume their bodies, and the second death shall devour their souls. The upright - Good men whom they abused at their pleasure. Morning - In the day of the general judgment, and the resurrection of the dead. Beauty - All their glory and felicity. Dwelling - They shall be hurried from their large and stately mansions, into a close and dark grave.
God - Tho' no man can find out a ransom to redeem himself, yet God can and will redeem me. The grave - The grave shall not have power to retain me, but shall be forced to give me up into my father's hands. Receive - Into heaven.
Afraid - Discouraged.
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.
He - Now he returns to the third person: such changes are frequent in this book. Go - To the grave and hell, where he shall meet with his wicked parents, who by their counsel and example, led him into his evil courses. See - Neither the light of this life, to which they shall never return: nor of the next life, to which they shall never be admitted.
Understandeth not - Hath not true wisdom. The beasts - Though he hath the outward shape of a man, yet in truth he is a beast, a stupid, and unreasonable creature.