Reflections on Psalm 49 and a Trip to IKEA

I visited IKEA for the first time on Saturday. If you are fortunate enough to live near one of these colossal stores, you’ll know what I’m talking about today. If you don’t have an IKEA close by, or if you (like I was) are unaware of the magnificence, let me explain. IKEA is a HUGE home organization, home decor, and furniture sales place. Our IKEA covers two enormous stories and houses hundreds of showrooms, a restaurant, a kids play place, a furniture warehouse, and a Swedish bistro. (IKEA is Swedish in origin.)

As we wandered the store (everything is arranged in a semi-circular manner so you can’t walk the aisle; you have to circle around and see everything), I began to lust. I began to dream. I began to explain to my husband why we needed everything in the store and how we could possibly sell our children to get it. (Just kidding.)

Until my visit to IKEA, I had been fairly content. We are a one income family, and that doesn’t leave much room for funds for home decor- unless the hundreds of books I purchase to use for homeschooling count for decor. But, I wandered the IKEA store and dreamed of all I could have, if I were only rich.

I was rather convicted by the time I came home.

Not because I had been to the store. It was a great store, and if you are in the market to buy furniture, they have some great prices. But, because I had allowed myself, if only for a moment, to get caught up in the mindset; “If I just had a little bit more, I could be happy.” It’s a sneaky, devious thing. It can hit us when we visit a friend and see her new living room furniture. It can hit us at church when the new family pulls up in a brand new car. It can quickly go from admiring to wishing I had “just a little bit more.”

Later, I was reading Psalm 49. Even waaaay back then, apparently folks struggled with this. The Psalmist reminds us that wealth is fleeting:

10For he sees that even wise men die; the [self-confident] fool and the stupid alike perish and leave their wealth to others.
11Their inward thought is that their houses will continue forever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands their own [apart from God] and after their own names.
12But man, with all his honor and pomp, does not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.
13This is the fate of those who are foolishly confident, yet after them men approve their sayings. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

We studied Ancient Egypt this summer in our homeschool and learned how the Egyptians used to put so many of their valuables and much of their wealth in their tombs to take with them into the afterlife. You know what, they had a bitter wake up. Those things do not last. They are temporal. We cannot take them with us.

So, it is fun to shop in a magnificent store like IKEA. It is even fun to buy something if you can. (I got some great plastic cups and bowls for my kids!) But, we must always be careful of that sneaky thought that tells us we would be happy if we could just have a little more.

2 Responses to Reflections on Psalm 49 and a Trip to IKEA
  1. Alysun
    September 15, 2010 | 6:56 am

    Great post! I’ve had the same experience in the same store:)

  2. Mel's World with Melissa Mashburn
    September 15, 2010 | 4:32 pm

    Love it Leah, what a great analogy, I live only 5 minutes from an IKEA and have often found myself wandering around the isles making lists of things I want, but don’t really “need”. Great post!