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Psalm 9:20

ESV Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
NIV Strike them with terror, LORD; let the nations know they are only mortal.
NASB Put them in fear, Lord; Let the nations know that they are merely human. Selah
CSB Put terror in them, Lord; let the nations know they are only humans. Selah
NLT Make them tremble in fear, O Lord. Let the nations know they are merely human. Interlude
KJV Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.

What does Psalm 9:20 mean?

Apart from God, humanity is finite and frail. God created man from dust, and man will return to dust (Genesis 3:19). Human life is brief and tentative. The old must die soon, and the young may die at any time. Hebrews 9:27 assures us that every person has an appointment with death and after death with judgment. The apostle James pictures life as extremely brief. He asks, "What is your life" and answers, "For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14).

It is common for pride to inflate a person's ego, while deflating his awareness of how much he needs God. Indeed, some philosophies teach that man can do whatever he dreams and is limited only by his imagination. In the closing verse of this psalm, David asks the Lord to put the nations—those outside the family of God—in fear and let them know they are only men. In other words, he prays for the Lord to put mankind in their place.
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