The Cost of Redemption
(7) No man can by any means ransom his brother, nor can he give to God a redemption price for him, (8) for the ransom for a soul is costly and will never be enough (9) that he should live on forever and never see the pit.
In three short verses we find two occurrences of the word “ransom” and the use of the synonymous phrase, “redemption price,” which conveys the same idea. This single sentence, which stretches over all three verses, sets forth a profound truth which many fail to grasp: the utter impossibility of anyone anywhere offering to God a sufficient compensation to remove our debt for sin. Why is this so? It is simply because the amount required is impossibly high. None of us could ever amass enough or do enough to meet the steep price that a holy God requires for such a redemption. The author is not exaggerating when he states that it “will never be enough” (vs. 8).
I. The impossibility of offering to God enough to redeem a human life (7)
II. Why? The price is far beyond our ability to afford. (8 & 9)
The cost of redeeming a soul from death is far too great for humans to afford.
Occasionally, we find treasure in unexpected places. In the middle of a wisdom psalm on wealth, we unexpectedly encounter three verses that give us great insight into an important issue treated at much greater length in the New Testament, the doctrine of redemption. Understanding how redemption works is fundamental to a study of Soteriology, the area of theology that focuses on the salvation that Jesus Christ accomplished for us by his death on the cross.
According to the Scriptures, Christ alone can redeem our souls because he alone lived the perfect life that enabled him to die the atoning death that would fully satisfy God’s righteous demands against us. While Paul wrote at length on the theme of redemption in Romans 3, he provided a one verse summary of this theology in 2 Corinthians: “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to become sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
While “no (ordinary) man can by any means ransom his brother” (Ps. 49:7), the New Testament declares that Jesus Christ, the God/man, did what no one else was able do. God’s Son shed his blood to pay a ransom price of infinite value. The Apostle John wrote: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2). So worthy in God’s sight is Christ’s atoning death that it is sufficient to pay the sin debt of every human being who has ever lived or who ever will live. However, only those who personally trust in Christ’s atoning work have that value applied to themselves. If we trust in the redemption which Christ has purchased for us by his death on the cross, we become the recipients of that which would otherwise be impossible for us to attain, eternal life in God’s presence. According to Psalm 49:9, those covered by the blood of Christ will "live on forever and never see the pit.”