Psalms 49:7

7 Really! There's no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

Psalms 49:7 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 49:7

None [of them] can by any means redeem his brother
That is, "with their substance", or "riches", as the Targum and Jarchi supply. Some, according to the order of the words in the original, render them, "a brother redeeming cannot redeem a man", or "anyone" {q}: but, as Aben Ezra observes, (xa) , "a brother", is the effect, and (vya) , "a man", is the cause. The Targum is, "his brother that is a captive, a man redeeming cannot redeem with his substance"; or by any means redeem. Indeed a rich man may redeem his brother from debt, or from a prison, into which he is cast for it, by paying his debts for him; or from thraldom and bondage, being taken captive and becoming a prisoner of war, by giving a ransom for him. This he may do with respect to man; but, with respect to God, he cannot, with all his riches, pay the debts he owes to the law and justice of God; nor free him from his bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, by whom he is held a captive. The sense here is, that he cannot redeem him from death; he cannot, with all his money, secure him from dying; nor, when dead, bring him back from the grave; and much less deliver him from eternal death, or wrath to come; this only God can do, see ( Psalms 49:15 ) ;

nor give to God a ransom for him;
a ransom to redeem from sin, and so from the curse of the law and eternal death, must be given to God, against whom sin is committed, the lawgiver that is able to save and destroy; whose law is transgressed by it, and must be fulfilled; and whose justice is affronted and injured, and must be satisfied; and who is the creditor to whom men are debtors, and therefore the payment must be made to him. Hence our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of his people, paid the ransom price to God, and offered himself a sacrifice to him; see ( Ephesians 5:2 ) ( Revelation 5:9 ) . But this ransom is not of man's giving, but of God's; it is of his finding out in his infinite wisdom: he set forth and sent forth Christ to be the ransom or "propitiation" F18, as the word here used signifies; and Christ came to give his life and himself a ransom for many, and is the propitiation for their sins: and this is a sufficient one, a plenteous redemption, and there needs no other, not is there any other; there were typical atonements under the law, but there is no real atonement, propitiation, or ransom, but by the precious blood of Christ; not by corruptible things, as silver and gold; with these a man cannot give to God a ransom for himself, or for his brother.


F17 So Cocceius; and some in Michaelis.
F18 (wrpk) "propitiationem suam", Pagninus, Montanus.

Psalms 49:7 In-Context

5 So why should I fear in bad times, hemmed in by enemy malice,
6 Shoved around by bullies, demeaned by the arrogant rich?
7 Really! There's no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
8 The cost of rescue is beyond our means, and even then it doesn't guarantee
9 Life forever, or insurance against the Black Hole.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.