A Series of Answers to Common Questions
God warns people in Psalm 146:3 from trusting in a son of man for help. According to the NT Jesus is the Son of Man (cf. Mark 2:28). Therefore, how can Christians trust him as their Savior when the OT tells believers not to trust in such a person?
Reading the context carefully shows that this Psalm in no way refutes the Deity of the Lord Jesus, or his function as Savior. The son of man in this particular Psalm is a reference to frail, mortal humanity collectively, that persons should not put their hope in mere mortals since they all die and fade away. Here is the entire Psalm in order to prove that this is what the Psalmist meant in context:
"Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish. Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith for ever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign for ever, thy God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!" Psalm 146:1-10
There are other passages where the expression son of man is used in this same sense, in connection to frail, sinful, corruptible humanity:
"How then can man be righteous before God? How can he who is born of woman be clean? Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clean in his sight; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!" Job 25:4-6
"When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea." Psalm 8:3-8
"I, I am he that comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and fear continually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor?" Isaiah 51:12-13
The phrase is also used in reference to Gods prophets, fallible mortals whom God chose to speak to and through:
"And he said to me, Son of man, stand upon your feet, and I will speak with you. And when he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me upon my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels, who have rebelled against me; they and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day." Ezekiel 2:1-3
"When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the U'lai, and it called, Gabriel, make this man understand the vision. So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was frightened and fell upon my face. But he said to me, Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end." Daniel 8:15-17
The foregoing helps us see the point the Psalmist was making. The Psalmist is telling believers not to trust in men for help since man is fallible and mortal by nature and cannot provide salvation. God, however, is the only One that can provide complete safety and eternal security for believers because he alone is eternal and Almighty. Basically, the Psalmist is encouraging believers to put their hope in Yahweh alone since he reigns forever, unlike man who dies and is no more.
Yet there is one particular Son of Man mentioned in the OT whom all nations are required to serve and obey. The prophet Daniel speaks of a heavenly Son of Man, a Divine Being that takes the form of a man, who rules forever:
"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14
Daniel explicitly sees the figure of a man who rides on the clouds of heaven, indicating that this is actually a theophany, a visible appearance of God, since it is Yahweh who rides the clouds:
"Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, thou art very great! Thou art clothed with honor and majesty, who coverest thyself with light as with a garment, who hast stretched out the heavens like a tent, who hast laid the beams of thy chambers on the waters, who makest the clouds thy chariot, who ridest on the wings of the wind," Psalm 104:1-3
"An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them." Isaiah 19:1
Furthermore, the very verb used here in reference to the Son of Man being served or worshiped is also used in Daniel for the service which is to be given to God alone!
"Nebuchadnez'zar said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set at nought the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.’" Daniel 3:28
Therefore, we have a specific Son of Man that is a divine eternal figure who reigns forever over all creation, unlike the other son of men who are mortal and die.
And what kind of Son of Man did Jesus proclaim himself to be? Is he an ordinary son of man like Daniel or Ezekiel that fades and dies? Or is he the Divine Son of Man of Daniel, the One who lives and rules forever? We will let Jesus and the NT answer that for us:
"And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then HE will send out the angels, and gather HIS elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven." Mark 13:26-27
"But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:61-62
"When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;" Matthew 25:31-34
"But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God." Acts 7:55-56
"Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so." Amen. Revelation 1:7
Basically, Jesus isnt merely a son of man like the others; he is actually THE DIVINE Son of Man who lives forever:
"Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I AM ALIVE FOR EVERMORE, and I have the keys of Death and Hades." Revelation 1:12-18
Jesus isnt simply a mortal being, but the eternal Word of God who became man to procure our redemption:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." John 1:1-4, 10, 14
And because he lives forever the Lord Jesus is able to save completely all those who come to him in faith:
"What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?" Romans 8:31-34
"who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Hebrews 7:16, 25-27
It is little wonder that the NT says that everyone must take Jesus as the object of their hope and salvation, with the Lord Jesus commanding the believers to trust in him even as they trust in God:
"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." John 14:1-3
"For this reason therefore I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain." Acts 28:20
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope," 1 Timothy 1:1
"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27
As it stands, a proper reading of Psalm 146:3 does nothing to refute the NT witness that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord and Savior of all men.
All scriptural quotations taken from the Revised Standard Version (RSV).
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