After these wise observations the psalmist ends the first half of the poem with a couplet that will be repeated with some slight but significant variations at the end (vv. 12 and 20): “But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.”

The outline of Psalm 49 is not obscure, which means that nearly all commentators divide it into the same five parts, though they sometimes combine them under comprehensive headings. They are: 1) the introduction (which we have already touched on); 2) the foolishness of trusting riches (vv. 5-9); 3) the inescapability of death (vv. 10-12); 4) the contrast between those who trust riches and those who trust God (vv. 13-15); and 5) an appeal to all persons to be wise (vv. 16-20).

Because the Bible is a book of progressive revelation, it is often the case that a New Testament passage can be read as a commentary on part of the Old Testament. But sometimes it works the other way around. Sometimes an Old Testament passage is a commentary on something in the New Testament.

"God's special presence in his church.” The ancient devout Jews were conscious of the presence of God in Jerusalem, symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant that rested within the Most Holy Place of the temple. It is why he could say, "God is in her citadels" (v. 3). We cannot say that God is in our cities in the same way, or even in our churches. But we have something better: God in us, in the person of his Holy Spirit.

In my opinion, one of the nicest parts of this psalm is the concluding section in which the people are invited to walk around the city, count the towers and consider the ramparts and citadels, that the perfect nature of God's recent deliverance might be impressed on their minds so they might be able to remember it vividly and so be able to pass it on to their children and their children's children (vv. 12, 13).