Psalm 146:3
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
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(3, 4) Princes—The thought of Psalm 118:8-9 is here elaborated, with distinct allusion to Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19 (Comp. 1 Maccabees 2:63.) The verse, no doubt, was in Shakespeare’s mind when he made Wolsey say:

“Oh, how wretched

Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favours!”

as it was quoted by Strafford when the news reached him that Charles I. had given the royal assent to the bill of attainder against him. But in the psalm it is not the caprice of princes, as in these notable instances, but their frailty as men that is declared untrustworthy.

Psalm 146:3-6. Put not your trust in princes — However great their wealth or power may be; nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help — “Earthly princes, if they have the will, often want the power, even to protect their friends. And should they want neither will nor power to advance them, yet still all depends upon the breath in their nostrils, which perhaps, at the very critical moment, goeth forth; they return to the earth; their thoughts, and all the thoughts of those who hoped to rise by their means, fall into the same grave, and are buried with them for ever.” Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help — That has an interest in his attributes and promises, and has them engaged for him; whose hope is in the Lord his God — Who relies on him for help and support in all circumstances and situations, having made him his friend, so that he can call him his God and Father. Which made heaven and earth, &c. — And, therefore, has all power in himself, and the command of the powers of all the creatures, which, being derived from him, depend upon him; which keepeth truth for ever — Because he liveth for ever to fulfil his promises, and because he is eternally and unchangeably faithful.

146:1-4 If it is our delight to praise the Lord while we live, we shall certainly praise him to all eternity. With this glorious prospect before us, how low do worldly pursuits seem! There is a Son of man in whom there is help, even him who is also the Son of God, who will not fail those that trust in him. But all other sons of men are like the man from whom they sprung, who, being in honour, did not abide. God has given the earth to the children of men, but there is great striving about it. Yet, after a while, no part of the earth will be their own, except that in which their dead bodies are laid. And when man returns to his earth, in that very day all his plans and designs vanish and are gone: what then comes of expectations from him?Put not your trust in princes - Rely on God rather than on man, however exalted he may be. There is a work of protection and salvation which no man, however exalted he may be, can perform for you; a work which God alone, who is the Maker of all things, and who never dies, can accomplish. See the notes at Psalm 118:8-9. Compare also the notes at Isaiah 2:22 : "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of?"

Nor in the son of man - Any son of man; any human being, no matter what his rank or power. The phrase is often used to denote man. See the notes at Psalm 8:4. The appellation "Son of man" was often applied by the Saviour to himself to express emphatically the idea that he was a man - that he had a human nature; that he was identified with the race; that he was a brother, a fellow-sufferer, a friend of man: that he was not a cold and abstract being so exalted that he could not feel or weep over the sins and woes of a fallen and suffering world. The language here, however, it is scarcely necessary to say, does not refer to him. It is right to put our trust in him; we have no other trust.

In whom there is no help - Margin, salvation. So the Hebrew. The idea is, that man cannot save us. He cannot save himself; he cannot save others.


Ps 146:1-10. An exhortation to praise God, who, by the gracious and faithful exercise of His power in goodness to the needy, is alone worthy of implicit trust.

In princes; in men of greatest wealth and power, in whose favour men are very prone to trust.

In whom there is no help; who are utterly unable frequently to give you that help which they promise, and you expect.

Put not your trust in princes,.... Not in foreign princes, in alliances and confederacies with them; nor in any at home. David did not desire his people to put their trust in him, nor in his nobles and courtiers; but in the Lord Christ, who, as he is the object of praise, is also the proper object of trust. Princes, though ever so liberal and bountiful, as their name signifies, and therefore called benefactors, Luke 22:25 or ever so mighty and powerful, wise and prudent, yet are not to be depended upon; they are changeable, fickle, and inconstant; and oftentimes not faithful to their word, but fallacious and deceitful; "men of high degree are a lie", Psalm 62:9; wherefore it is better to trust in the Lord Jehovah, in whom is everlasting strength; who gives all things richly to enjoy; who is unchangeable, and ever abides faithful; see Psalm 118:8;

nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help; or "salvation" (m): not in any mere man born of a woman; not in Abraham, the father of the faithful, of whom the Jews boasted, as the Midrash; nor in Moses, as Arama; nor in Cyrus, as R. Obadiah; no, nor in David himself, nor in any of the princes; for how great soever they look, or in whatsoever honour and esteem they may be, they are but sons of men; are frail mortal men, and die like men, though they may be called gods, as they are by office: but no man or son of man, let him be what he will, is to be trusted in; there is a curse on him that does it, Jeremiah 17:5. There is indeed a Son of man that is to be trusted in, the Lord Jesus Christ; but then he is God as well as man, the true God, the great God, God over all, blessed for ever; were he not, he would not be the proper object of trust, for there is no "help" or "salvation" in a mere creature; even kings and princes cannot help and save themselves oftentimes, and much less their people; their salvation is of God, and not from themselves, or from their armies, Psalm 33:16. There is help in Christ, on whom it is laid, and where it is found; there is salvation in him, but in no other; he is the author and giver of it, and therefore he, and not another, is to be trusted in.

(m) "salus", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.

Put not your trust in {b} princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

(b) That God may have the whole praise: in which he forbids all vain confidence showing that by nature we are more inclined to put our trust in creatures, than in God the Creator.

3. Cp. Psalm 118:8-9, and see notes there for illustration of the kind of circumstances which may have suggested the warning. Cp. also Jeremiah 17:5 ff. Heathen princes doubtless are meant. It is possible that a party in Jerusalem was advocating a foreign alliance.

in whom there is no help] Or, salvation. Cp. Psalm 33:16; Psalm 60:11 (= Psalm 108:12) and note.

3, 4. The central thought of the Ps., expressed in Psalm 146:5 ff., is prefaced by a warning against the temptation to rely upon the favour and protection of men, however powerful. Princes to-day, they may be I dust to-morrow; and their loftiest schemes crumble into dust with them.

Verse 3. - Put not your trust in princes (comp. Psalm 118:10). Israel was always apt to trust in bureau rather than Divine help. Now it was Egypt (Isaiah 30:2; Isaiah 36:6), now Assyria (2 Kings 16:7), now their own kings or nobles. At the time of the return from the Captivity, too much was expected from Zerubbabel and the other "princes." Nor in the son of man. The Prayer-book paraphrase, "nor in any child of man," brings out the sense. Confidence in human aid of whatever kind is forbidden. In whom there is no help; or, "that hath no saving power" (שׁוּעה). Psalm 146:3Instead of "bless," as in Psalm 103:1; Psalm 104:1, the poet of this Psalm says "praise." When he attunes his sole to the praise of God, he puts himself personally into this mood of mind, and therefore goes on to say "I will praise." He will, however, not only praise God in the song which he is beginning, but כּחיּי (vid., on Psalm 63:5), fillling up his life with it, or בּעודי (prop. "in my yet-being," with the suffix of the noun, whereas עודנּי with the verbal suffix is "I still am"), so that his continued life is also a constant continued praising, viz., (and this is in the mind of the poet here, even at the commencment of the Psalm) of the God and Kings who, as being the Almighty, Eternal, and unchangeably Faithful One, is the true ground of confidence. The warning against putting trust in princes calls to mind Psalm 118:8. The clause: the son of man, who has no help that he could afford, is to be understood according to Psalm 60:13. The following לאדמתו shows that the poet by expression בּן־אדם combines the thoughts of Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 3:19. If his breath goes forth, he says, basing the untrustworthiness and feebleness of the son of Adam upon the inevitable final destiny of the son of Adam taken out of the ground, then he returns to his earth, i.e., the earth of his first beginning; cf. the more exact expression אל־עפרם, after which the εἰς τὴν γῆν αὐτοῦ of the lxx is exchanged for εἰς τὸν χοῦν αὐτοῦ in 1 Macc. 2:63: On the hypothetical relation of the first future clause to the second, cf. Psalm 139:8-10, Psalm 139:18; Ew. 357, b. In that day, the inevitable day of death, the projects or plans of man are at once and forever at an end. The ἅπ. λεγ. עשׁתּנת describes these with the collateral notion of the subtleness and magnitude.
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