Psalm 49 opens with an unusual introduction. After the title, the writer used the first four verses to tell us how awesome of a psalm he had written: “I will declare a wise saying; I will share my profound thoughts.” His profound thought, which sets the tone for the entire psalm is Psalm 49:5: “Why should I be afraid in times of trouble, when the sinful deeds of deceptive men threaten to overwhelm me?” This is not our normal way of thinking.
The way Psalm 49:6-15 addresses this is amazing, especially because the writers lacked the additional revelation God gave in the New Testament. Even those who have extreme wealth cannot buy the lives of other people, including those they love. Wealth cannot prevent death, and those who trust is have no eternal future. In a sense, they are no better than animals, wasting their lives just to end up in the grave. Even without a full understanding of future events, they still believed in the resurrection, when the godly will have a better position than the ungodly.
Psalm 49:16-20 is a kind of summary statement. Wealth is not so beneficial that godly people need to fear when others get it. No matter what it can purchase, it is only temporary. Even making a name for oneself is short-term, and those who make that their goal enter eternity with nothing to show for it.
The truth is that this psalm is profound in the sense that it is reflective and philosophical. It addresses deep subjects that we would all do well to consider. Sometimes it simply takes a shift in perspective to remind us that, no matter our current situation, it is always better to trust God and walk his path.