Psalm 49:8
(For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBTODWESTSK
(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.

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 - The word "soul" here means "life," and not the immortal part. The only question which the psalmist here considers is the value of wealth in preserving "life," or in saving man from the grave. The phrase, ""their" soul," refers doubtless to the man and his brother, as alluded to in the previous verse. The idea is that neither can the man of wealth ransom his own life from the grave, nor the life of his brother. Wealth can save neither of them. The word "precious" means "costly," "valuable." The word is applied 1 Kings 10:2, 1 Kings 10:10-11 to gems, and then to the costlier kinds of stones employed in building, as marble and hewn-stones, 2 Chronicles 3:6. Compare the notes at Psalm 36:7. The idea here is, that the rescue of the life, or the saving from the grave, would be too "costly;" it would be beyond the power of all wealth to purchase it; no amount of silver or gold, or raiment, or precious stones, could "constitute" a sufficient "price" to secure it.

And it ceaseth for ever - That is, Wealth forever comes short of the power necessary to accomplish this. It has always been insufficient; it always "will" be. There is no hope that it "ever" will be sufficient; that by any increase in the amount - or by any change in the conditions of the bargain - property or riches can avail for this. The whole matter is perfectly "hopeless" as to the power of wealth in saving one human being from the grave. It must always "fail" in saving a man from death. The word rendered "ceaseth" - חדל châdal - means "to leave off, to desist, to fail," Genesis 11:8; Exodus 9:34; Isaiah 2:22. As there is no allusion here to the redemption of the "soul" - the immortal part - this passage affirms nothing in regard to the fact that the work of redemption by the Saviour is completed or finished, and that an atonement cannot be made again, which is true; nor to the fact that when salvation through that atonement is rejected, all hope of redemption is at an end, which is also true. But though there is, originally, no such reference here, the "language" is such as is "adapted" to express that idea. In a much higher and more important sense than any which pertains to the power of wealth in saving from the grave, it is true tint the work of the atonement ceased for ever when the Redeemer expired on the cross, and that all hope of salvation ceases forever when the atonement is rejected, and when man refuses to be saved by his blood; nothing then can save the soul. No other sacrifice will be made, and when a man has finally rejected the Saviour, it may be said in the highest sense of the term, that the redemption of the soul is too costly to be effected by any other means, and that all hope of its salvation "has ceased" forever.

8. it ceaseth for ever—that is, the ransom fails, the price is too precious, costly. Of their soul, i.e. of their life, as soul is commonly used.

Is precious, i.e. rare, as the word is used, 1 Samuel 3:1 Daniel 2:11, hard to be obtained. But he doth not call it simply impossible, because Christ hath purchased this privilege for his true disciples, that in some sense they shall not see death, John 8:51.

It ceaseth for ever, i.e. it is never to be accomplished, to wit, by any mere man, for himself or for his brother.

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.

(For the redemption of their soul is {d} precious, {e} and it ceaseth for ever:)

(d) That is, so rare or not to be found, as prophecy was precious in the days of Eli, 1Sa 3:1.

(e) Meaning it is impossible to live for ever: also that life and death are only in God's hands.

8. Render:

For too costly is the redemption of their life,

And he must let it alone for ever.

The sum to be paid by the man whose life was forfeit was to be assessed, probably in proportion to his culpability and his means: but there is no ransom which can be paid to God; it is hopeless to think of attempting it. Cp. Matthew 5:26. Their refers to brother, regarded generically; or, if the reading But is adopted, to the rich men.

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). Psalm 49:8(Heb.: 49:6-13) First division of the sermon. Those who have to endure suffering from rich sinners have no need to fear, for the might and splendour of their oppressors is hastening towards destruction. ימי רע are days in which one experiences evil, as in Psalm 94:13, cf. Amos 6:3. The genitive r` is continued in Amos 6:6 in a clause that is subordinate to the בימי of Psalm 49:6 (cf. 1 Samuel 25:15; Job 29:2; Psalm 90:15). The poet calls his crafty and malicious foes עקבי. There is no necessity for reading עקבי as Bttcher does, since without doubt a participial noun עקב, supplantator, can be formed from עקב, supplantare; and although in its branchings out it coincides with עקב, planta, its meaning is made secure by the connection. To render the passage: "when wickedness surrounds me about my heels," whether with or without changing עון into עון (Hupfeld, von Ortenberg), is proved on all sides to be inadmissible: it ought to have been עול instead of עון; but even then it would still be an awkward expression, "to surround any one's heels,"

(Note: This might be avoided if it were possible for עון עקבי to mean "the sin that follows my heels, that follows me at the heels;" but apart from עון being unsuitable with this interpretation, an impossible meaning is thereby extorted from the genitive construction. This, however, is perhaps what is meant by the expression of the lxx, ἡ ἀνομία τῆς πτέρνης μου, so much spoken of in the Greek Church down to the present day.)

and the הבּטחים, which follows, would be unconnected with what precedes. This last word comes after עקבי, giving minuteness to the description, and is then continued quite regularly in Psalm 49:7 by the finite verb. Up to this point all is clear enough; but now the difficulties accumulate. One naturally expects the thought, that the rich man is not able to redeem himself from death. Instead of this it is said, that no man is able to redeem another from death. Ewald, Bttcher, and others, therefore, take אח, as in Ezekiel 18:10; Ezekiel 21:20 (vid., Hitzig), to be a careless form of writing for אך, and change יפדּה into the reflexive יפּדה; but the thought that is sought thus to be brought to is only then arrived at with great difficulty: the words ought to be אך אישׁ לא יפדּה נפשׁו. The words as they stand assert: a brother (אח, as a prominently placed object, with Rebia magnum, equals אהיו, cf. Ezekiel 5:10; Ezekiel 18:18; Micah 7:6; Malachi 1:6) can a man by no means redeem, i.e., men cannot redeem one another. Hengstenberg and Hitzig find the thought that is to be expected in Psalm 49:8: the rich ungodly man can with all his riches not even redeem another (אח), much less then can he redeem himself, offer a כּפר for himself. But if the poet meant to be so understood, he must have written ולא and כּפר נפשׁו. Psalm 49:8 and Psalm 49:8 bear no appearance of referring to different persons; the second clause is, on the contrary, the necessary supplement of the first: Among men certainly it is possible under some circumstances for one who is delivered over to death to be freed by money, but no כּפר ( equals פּדיון נפשׁ, Exodus 21:30 and frequently) can be given to God (לאלהים).

All idea of the thought one would most naturally look for must therefore be given up, so far as it can be made clear why the poet has given no direct expression to it. And this can be done. The thought of a man's redeeming himself is far from the poet's mind; and the contrast which he has before his mind is this: no man can redeem another, Elohim only can redeem man. That one of his fellow-men cannot redeem a man, is expressed as strongly as possible by the words לא־פדה יפדּה; the negative in other instances stands after the intensive infinitive, but here, as in Genesis 3:4; Amos 9:8; Isaiah 28:28, before it. By an easy flight of irony, Psalm 49:9 says that the lu'tron which is required to be paid for the souls of men is too precious, i.e., exorbitant, or such as cannot be found, and that he (whoever might wish to lay it down) lets it alone (is obliged to let it alone) for ever Thus much is clear enough, so far as the language is concerned (וחדל according to the consec. temp. equals ויחדּל), and, although somewhat fully expressed, is perfectly in accordance with the connection. But how is Psalm 49:10 attached to what precedes? Hengstenberg renders it, "he must for ever give it up, that he should live continually and not see the grave." But according to the syntax, ויהי cannot be attached to וחדל, but only to the futures in Psalm 49:8, ranking with which the voluntative ויחי, ut vivat (Ew. 347, a). Thus, therefore, nothing remains but to take Psalm 49:9 (which von Ortenberg expunges as a gloss upon Psalm 49:8) as a parenthesis; the principal clause affirms that no man can give to God a ransom that shall protect another against death, so that this other should still continue (עוד) to live, and that without end (לנצח), without seeing the grave, i.e., without being obliged to go down into the grave. The כּי in Psalm 49:11 is now confirmatory of what is denied by its opposite; it is, therefore, according to the sense, imo (cf. 1 Kings 21:15): ...that he may not see the grave - no indeed, without being able to interpose and alter it, he must see how all men, without distinction, succumb to death. Designedly the word used of the death of wise men is מוּת, and of the death of the fool and the stupid man, אבד. Kurtz renders: "together with the fool and the slow of understanding;"; but יחד as a proposition cannot be supported; moreover, ועזבוּ would then have "the wise" as its subject, which is surely not the intention of the poet. Everything without distinction, and in mingled confusion, falls a prey to death; the rich man must see it, and yet he is at the same time possessed by the foolish delusion that he, with his wealth, is immortal.

The reading קברם (lxx, Targ., Syr.), preferred by Ewald, and the conjecture קברם, adopted by Olshausen and Riehm, give a thought that is not altogether contrary to the connection, viz., the narrow grave is the eternal habitation of those who called broad lands their own; but this thought appears here, in view of Psalm 49:12, too early. קרב denotes the inward part, or that which is within, described according to that which encircles or contains it: that which is within them is, "their houses (pronounce bāttēmo) are for ever" (Hengstenberg, Hitzig); i.e., the contents of their inward part is the self-delusion that their houses are everlasting, and their habitations so durable that one generation after another will pass over them; cf. the similar style of expression in Psalm 10:4, Esther 5:7. Hitzig further renders: men celebrate their names in the lands; קרא בשׁם, to call with a name equals solemnly to proclaim it, to mention any one's name with honour (Isaiah 44:5). But it is unlikely that the subject of קראוּ should now again be any other than the rich men themselves; and עלי אדמות for בּכל־הארץ or בּארצות is contrary to the usage of the language. אדמה is the earth as tillage, אדמות (only in this passage) in this connection, fields, estates, lands; the proclaiming of names is, according to 2 Samuel 12:28; 1 Kings 8:43; Amos 9:12, equivalent to the calling of the lands or estates after their (the possessors') names (Bצttcher, Hupfeld, Kurtz). The idea of the rich is, their houses and dwelling-places (and they themselves who have grown up together with them) are of eternal duration; accordingly they solemnly give their own names to their lands, as being the names of immortals. But, adds the poet, man בּיקר, in the pomp of his riches and outward show, abideth not (non pernoctat equals non permanet). ביקר is the complement of the subject, although it logically (cf. Psalm 45:13) also belongs to בּל־ילין. Bttcher has shown the impropriety of reading בּל־יבין here according to Psalm 49:20. There are other instances also of refrains that are not exact repetitions; and this correction is moreover at once overthrown by the fact that בל will not suit יבין, it would stamp each man of rank, as such, as one deficient in intelligence. On the other hand, this emotional negative בל is admirably suitable to ילין: no indeed, he has no abiding. He is compared (נמשׁל like the New Testament ὡμοιώθη), of like kind and lot, to cattle (כּ as in Job 30:19). נדמוּ is an attributive clause to כּבּהמות: like heads of cattle which are cut off or destroyed. The verb is so chosen that it is appropriate at the same time to men who are likened to the beasts (Hosea 10:7, Hosea 10:15, Obadiah 1:5, Isaiah 6:5).

Psalm 49:8 Interlinear
Psalm 49:8 Parallel Texts

Psalm 49:8 NIV
Psalm 49:8 NLT
Psalm 49:8 ESV
Psalm 49:8 NASB
Psalm 49:8 KJV

Psalm 49:8 Bible Apps
Psalm 49:8 Parallel
Psalm 49:8 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 49:8 Chinese Bible
Psalm 49:8 French Bible
Psalm 49:8 German Bible

Bible Hub

Psalm 49:7
Top of Page
Top of Page