No Man Can Ransom Another, Except One

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.

Why Are You Happy about the Rescue of the Soccer Team in Thailand?

How sweet it is to have good new celebrated all over the Internet? From every angle, left, right, center, whatever, people are showing gratitude for the rescue of those kids and their coach trapped in the cave. And I totally agree.

But, just to be that guy, let me ask you a question: why? Why are you celebrating that these 13 people have been rescued? Don’t write me off here. Stop and really address it. Why?

I’m happy because… What do you say? I’m happy because they are alive. Great, why? It’s good that they did not die in the cave. I agree; why? Does your worldview actually have an answer to why this good thing, this thing that everybody who is not a moral degenerate agrees is good, is in fact good?

If your worldview is one of naturalism, I think you will be harder pressed than you think to tell me why the rescue of these people is good. Maybe you can argue that one of those 13 could possibly go on to do something for humanity. Maybe you will argue that giving the globe a psychological boost is positive. Maybe you will argue that this pattern of giving, if imitated, will improve human flourishing. But in truth, are any of those reasons satisfactory? Do any of those get down to the heart of why this is an actual moral good?

In truth, only a worldview that sees human life as valuable, valuable for a valid reason, has a real reason to celebrate. If all that human beings are is a collection of fluids, cells, random atoms bouncing around the universe, then there is no real, moral reason why it is good for this team to be alive. Their random atoms could have stayed in the cave and it would have been all the same to the universe.

But, and here is the truth, if indeed those 13 lives matter for the simple reason that human lives matter, then this is a great cause for celebration. And I argue that those lives matter, regardless of whether or not any of the 13 ever does one single thing to benefit society. Their lives matter because of the existence and revelation of God.

In Genesis 1:27, God declares that he created humanity in his image. That, my dear friends, is the reason that the rescue of those 13 from a flooded cave in Thailand is good news. Thirteen people who bear upon their very souls a reminder of the existence and glory of God are preserved. Thirteen people who are told by the word of God that their value is in the imprint of God on them have been spared. Thirteen reflections of the truth that God is the glorious Ruler over the universe are still living and breathing. This is ultimately good.

Good is good because good is what God declares is good. Saving these lives is good because it matches the purpose for the existence of the universe—to glorify God.

If you are a God-doubter, if you are an atheist, if you are a naturalist, why not stop and ask yourself what reason you have, what real reason you have, to celebrate the rescue of the team in Thailand. We all agree it is a good thing. But I say it is good because it matches the revelation of God and it preserves people made in his image. Why do you say it is good?

Ultimately, what makes human life matter? See, o please see, that life matters because of our Creator. Random chance, cellular mutations, and survival of the fittest just cannot make life matter for the sake of life.