Psalm 49:7-9, 14-15
7 Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
8 for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice,
9 that he should live on forever
and never see the pit.
14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me. Selah
Here in a psalm that calls us to think about life and death, and the rich and the poor, we read something fascinating, true, and glorifying to Christ. Thinking on a this-worldly level, the psalmist points out to us that no man can ransom the life of another. Regardless of how wealthy, no one has enough money, enough power, enough clout to keep another person from dying. Though in our world, we may envy the super-rich or even fear them and their might, death comes to us all.
No man can give anything, not even his own life, to ultimately save the life of another so that the other man would never die. After all, we all die. No human life is of such weight that it could be given to prevent another life from facing the grave.
In verse 14, we see that death takes all people. But then, in verse 15, we see a glorious confidence. The psalmist writes, “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah.” God can ransom my soul from the power of death. God can give me life whereas no human wealth and no human power and no human sacrifice could.
How much this redounds to the praise of Jesus. No human life can ransom the life of another. Except one. Here is the glory of Jesus. Jesus is truly God and truly man. Jesus is a man who gave his life to ransom, not only the life of another but of many. Jesus has the glory, the weight, the worthiness, the perfection, the infinitude to be able to yield his life as an atonement for sin and actually ransom from eternal death the people of God.