But man, despite his
riches, does not endure;
he is like the beasts that
perish. … But God will
redeem my life from the
grave; he will surely take
me to himself."
—Psalm 49:12, 15
There is a way in which the king is like the lion, the dowager is like the dog, the Mafia boss is like the pit bull, and the farmer like the cow: they all die. They have that in common. But if the dowager, Mafia boss, or farmer dies with no more understanding than animals, then they are no better than the beasts of the field.
To know that after death there is life, after the darkness there is day—well, it changes your perspective. That insight, the psalmist says, can give you wisdom. It can give you understanding.
In literature (and television) a story is told a number of different ways. It is the story of a man who opens a newspaper and discovers the date on the newspaper is six months in advance of the time he lives.
He begins to read through the newspaper, and he discovers stories about events that have not yet taken place. He turns to the sports page, and there are scores of games not yet played. He turns to the financial page and discovers a report of the rise or fall of different stocks and bonds.
He realizes this can make him a wealthy man. A few large bets on an underdog team that he knows will win can make him wealthy. Investments in stocks that are now low but will rise high can fatten his portfolio. He is delighted.
He turns the page, comes to the obituary column and sees his picture and story. Everything changes. The knowledge of his death changes his view about his wealth.
In the monasteries of one order of Trappist monks, the monks dig a grave. Each day the monks go out to stand and look at the grave. When one of their number dies, he's ...1