Sunday, December 17, 2017

Psalm 49: Do You Believe The Ransom Has Been Paid?

"The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough" (vs. 8).  Psalm 49 could be taken as a very depressing song, even one of the "blues."  It is a meditation on the inevitability of death for everyone - rich and poor, wise and foolish, powerful and weak.  At best, the Psalmist's point could serve as a cold comfort to the downtrodden: Don't be overawed when people get wealthy and influential - their time of death is coming, too.

Everybody dies.  We learn that pretty early on in life.  Yes every so often we need to be reminded of that stark fact.  Everybody dies - including us someday!

If there is a ray of hope at all in this Psalm, it is the trust the Psalmist has in God.  "But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself" (vs. 15).  But didn't the Psalmist just say that there is no escape from the grave?  What, then, is the reason for his optimism?  What is his grounds for the belief that he will be different?

I don't know if this is more than just pride, arrogance, or wishful thinking.  It is possible the Psalmist has a life-giving relationship with the Lord.  Perhaps in his reflection on the kind of ransom it would take to "live on forever and not see decay" (vs. 9), he realized that it is incredibly high and one that cannot be paid out in fortunes of the earth.  But maybe he also remembered that God is able to do everything, even pay such a ransom.

In the sending of Christ to the world, this is exactly what God did after all.  "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).  The ransom is paid for me, for you, and now we have hope to live on forever and not see decay!

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