Psalms 49:8 MEANING

Psalm 49:8
(8) For.--This verse is rightly placed in a parenthesis. "Soul" is the animal life, as generally, and here necessarily from the context. There is no anticipation of the Christian scheme of redemption from sin. A ransom which could buy a man from death, as one redeems a debtor or prisoner, would be beyond the means of the wealthiest, even if nature allowed such a bargain.

It ceaseth for ever.--This is obscure. It may mean, either the ransom utterly fails, or the life utterly perishes, and so cannot be ransomed. Or, as in the Prayer Book version, the verb may be taken transitively, "he lets that alone for ever." The first of these is the simplest, and most agreeable to the context.

Verse 8. - For the redemption of their soul is precious; or, costly - too costly, i.e., for them, however rich they may be, to be able to effect it (comp. Job 36:18, 19). And it ceaseth for ever; rather, and one must let that aloes for ever (Cheyne, Kay, Hengstenberg, Revised Version).

49:6-14 Here is a description of the spirit and way of worldly people. A man may have wealth, and may have his heart enlarged in love, thankfulness, and obedience, and may do good with it. Therefore it is not men's having riches that proves them to be worldly, but their setting their hearts upon them as the best things. Worldly men have only some floating thoughts of the things of God, while their fixed thoughts, their inward thoughts, are about the world; that lies nearest the heart. But with all their wealth they cannot save the life of the dearest friend they have. This looks further, to the eternal redemption to be wrought out by the Messiah. The redemption of the soul shall cost very dear; but, being once wrought, it shall never need to be repeated. And he, the Redeemer, shall rise again before he sees corruption, and then shall live for evermore, Re 1:18. This likewise shows the folly of worldly people, who sell their souls for that which will never buy them. With all their wealth they cannot secure themselves from the stroke of death. Yet one generation after another applaud their maxims; and the character of a fool, as drawn by heavenly Wisdom itself, Lu 12:16-21, continues to be followed even among professed Christians. Death will ask the proud sinner, Where is thy wealth, thy pomp? And in the morning of the resurrection, when all that sleep in the dust shall awake, the upright shall be advanced to the highest honour, when the wicked shall be filled with everlasting shame and contempt, Da 12:2. Let us now judge of things as they will appear in that day. The beauty of holiness is that alone which the grave cannot touch, or damage.For the redemption of their soul is precious,.... Or "heavy" (s); it is, as Jarchi observes, "heavier than their substance": it is too weighty a matter for the richest man in the world to engage in; he is not equal to it; his riches are not an equivalent to the redemption of a soul which has sinned, and which is of more worth than the whole world: "what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" or another for him? all the substance of his house would be utterly despised. It requires a greater price for the redemption of it than gold and silver, and therefore it is impossible to be obtained by any such means; and which may be the sense of the word here, as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it; and so it is used for that which is "rare", "difficult", yea, "impossible", not to be found or come at, in 1 Samuel 3:1. The only price of redemption of the soul is the precious blood of Christ; his life is the ransom price, yea, he himself, 1 Peter 1:18, 1 Timothy 2:6; nor is the redemption of the soul possible upon any other ground;

and it ceaseth for ever; that is, the redemption of the soul; it must have ceased, it could never have been accomplished, had not Christ undertook it and performed it; he has obtained eternal redemption, and in him we have it, and in no other. Or the words may be rendered, "and he ceaseth for ever"; the brother, whose soul or life is to be redeemed, he dies; see Psalm 12:1; and dies the second and eternal death, for aught his brother can do for him, with all his riches: or he that attempts to redeem him, "he leaves off for ever" (t); see Psalm 36:3; whether he will or not, as Jarchi observes; he ceases from redeeming his brother; he finds he cannot do it; his endeavours are vain and fruitless. Some join and connect these words with the following, "and it ceaseth for ever, that he should still live for ever", &c. that is, it is impossible that such an one by such means should live for ever. Gussetius (u) renders and interprets the words quite to another sense, "but the redemption of their soul shall come": the true redemption price by Christ; and which, being once paid and perfectly done, "ceaseth for ever", and shall never be required more; so that he for whom it is made "shall live for ever", as in Psalm 49:9, which is a truly evangelic sense.

(s) "gravis", De Dieu, Michaelis. (t) "definet", Montanus, Vatablus. (u) Ebr. Comment. p. 345.

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