Doesn’t Psalm 49:7-9 prove that Jesus didn’t redeem a single soul?


Psalm 49:7-9 Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.

These are interesting verses. But a little further on in this same Psalm verse 15 says, "But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah." Who will ransom my soul? God! Oh the grace and mercy of God alone!

Jesus is and will always be the only Redeemer of God’s elect (Matt. 20:28; John 1:29; 8;36; Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:23-25; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; Tit. 2:14; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:18). Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 22 asks "Who is the Redeemer of God's elect?" Answer: "The only Redeemer of God's elect, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever" (WSC A22; cf. London Baptist Catechism Q/A 24).

The Bible and the Confessions are very clear; Jesus is the redeemer of his people. He took the punishment for every sin of every one of his people whom God gave him.

So, what does Psalm 49:7-9 mean? The overall theme of the Psalm concerns the vanity of riches. The meaning of our specific text tells us no ordinary man can redeem his brother or give to God a ransom large enough for him. In other words, no man can pay enough money to ransom or deliver another person from God. One cannot, with all the riches in the world, pay the debt(s) he owes to the law and the justice of God. We cannot free ourselves from the bondage of sin, self, and Satan. We’re all prisoners of our own device and none of us can free ourselves. Why? Because as sinners we have nothing to offer God that is completely holy, just, and pure. We each have depraved natures full of the wretchedness of sin which separate us from God and his holiness. We’re not merely stained or tainted with sin, we are dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1-3). So, no mere man can redeem another man before Holy God.

There is only one Redeemer of God’s elect — the sinless and perfect Lord Christ Jesus. There is a chorus that I enjoy singing that spells out this very fact. It goes like this:

He paid a debt he did not owe,
I owed a debt I could not pay.
I needed someone to wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song,
"Amazing Grace" all day long,
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).