Psalm 146:3 (KJV) states

Do not put your trust in princes, or in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

Depending on the translation, it says "Mortal man" "a son of man" "The son of man"

The interlinear seems to say "the son of man" however didn't Christ refer to himself as the son of man?

Which is the correct translation?

Also I understand that son isn't capitalized like it always is but in Matthew 2:15 when referring to Christ, in regards the Hosea prophecy, son isn't capitalized either.

  • English-to-Ivri translation : "In [a] Son-of Man" = "Be-Ben-Adam" ( בְּבֶן־אָדָ֓ם ) Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 21:34
  • When the article is present, there is an ambiguity in the wording which needs to be recognised. 'The Son ... of man' has a meaning more than just 'the son of a man'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 0:32
  • Welcome to BH.SE. I have added quote formatting and the Bible translation from which your quote comes. Please remember to do this for other answers you may contribute. Also, you say, The interlinear seems to say ... but you have not indicated which interlinear you are referring to. Any resources you quote from should be identified.
    – enegue
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 6:30
  • The better translation would be: Trust not in princes--in a son of man, For he hath no deliverance (YTL). "Mortal man" would be an "interpretations, but "The son of man" either son is capitalized or not is an erroneous translation and misleading. In the context of Psalm. 146, בְּבֶן־אָדָ֓ם - a son of man (v.3&4) refers to mortal & finite man as a whole that has no deliverance power like God does.
    – Sam
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 23:22
  • 1
    There are no capital letters in the Hebrew alphabet. So where did these capital letters concepts originate and who decides to capitalize words? This verse is about not trusting in humans but to trust God. Psalms 146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 10:47

5 Answers 5


Context is everything. Here in this passage of the Psalms the son of man simply means a human being, a creature, and to put trust in a man is ontologically wrong, for only God is true while "every man is a liar" (Romans 3:4), and "cursed are all who put trust in man" and not in God (Jeremiah 17:5).

However, Jesus calls Himself "Son of Man", not with an intention that people may not put trust in Him, but on the contrary, that people may trust Him no less than they trust God the Father, indicating thus to His equality with the Latter (John 14:1). Therefore, His "Son of Man" has a semantics of the "Son of Man" in the vision of Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14) who is served by the "clouds of heaven", i.e. angelic hosts (therefore is hierarchically above all angels), is given Divine authority and dominion; whose Kingdom will have no end and whom all nations will serve, which means that all nations will also put trust in Him. When Jesus says that He is the "Son of Man", He means that He is exactly this Person described by Daniel in his mentioned prophesy, as He clearly says in Matthew 24:30.

Again, terms are terms, they can be similar, but the context is everything.


Psalm 146:3 son of man?

Psalm 146:3 (NASB) Advises: Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the most frequent occurrence of the expression is in the book of Ezekiel, where over 90 times God addresses the prophet as “son of man.” (Ezekiel 2:1, 3, 6, 8) The designation as so used apparently serves to emphasize that the prophet is simply an earthling, thus heightening the contrast between the human spokesman and the Source of his message, the Most High God. The same designation is applied to the prophet Daniel at ,

Daniel 8:17 (NASB)

17 So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man", understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end.”

Jesus’ application of this expression to himself clearly showed that God’s Son was now indeed a human, having ‘become flesh’ (John 1:14), having ‘come to be out of a woman’ through his conception and birth to the Jewish virgin Mary. (Galatians 4:4; Luke 1:34-36) Hence he had not simply materialized a human body as angels had previously done; he was not an incarnation but was actually a ‘son of mankind’ through his human mother

Both expressions "son of man" or "mortal man" are correct,


In the Hebrew writings, it is common to see roundabout phrases as a poetic device, especially in the psalms or prophetic pronouncements. For example, Isa 51:12 says "I, [yes] I, am he who comforts you. Who are you, even afraid of [the] man who dies, and of [the] son of man that is made grass?" Here these terms "man" and "son of man" are not definite but generic; they synonymously refer generically to humans (generic members of mankind).

Why "son of man" then? Well, simply put it is just a roundabout way of saying "man", just like some modern slang uses "son of a ...". But in some sense this is a linguistically natural phenomenon since "son of man" emphasizes that it is nothing more than a descendant of man, not something special.

Similarly, in Psa 146:3 "son of man" is generic, not definite! It merely refers to a generic human. It tells you not to rely on princes (for their authority) or on a human (who is fragile and cannot save you). This is clearly supported by ancient Jews who undertook the LXX translation, who used the phrase "υιους ανθρωπων (sons of man)".


The interlinear seems to say "the son of man"

Not this interlinear:

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King James Bible Psalm 146:3

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

in mortal
בְּבֶן־ (bə·ḇen-)
Preposition-b | Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's 1121: A son

There is no definite article with this noun.

At https://biblehub.com/psalms/146-3.htm, 4 versions use "the son", 9 versions use "a son", 10 versions use "mortal man".

I like the New International Version:

Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.

This is consistent with John 2:24

But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.

There is no grammatical justification to translate this as "the son of man".

  • You could add : Psalm 146 [ verse 4 ] elaborated on the mortal nature of a "Ben-Adam" : His spirit leaves, he returns to his soil; on that day, his thoughts are lost. ( תֵּצֵ֣א ר֖וּחוֹ יָשֻׁ֣ב לְאַדְמָת֑וֹ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַ֜ה֗וּא אָֽבְד֥וּ עֶשְׁתֹּנֹתָֽיו ) Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 15:26

First, the KJV is slightly misleading as the Hebrew does not contain an article "the" before the phrase "son of man". A more correct translation might read as per the ESV:

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

"Son of man" was indeed one of the titles of Jesus. The same title is used regularly for Ezekiel (eg, 36:1, 3:1, 33;12, 2:1, 39:1, 4;1, 38:2, 13;2, etc, etc)

The title "son of man" simply means exactly that - a human, as was Jesus and all of us.

Now there is a difference between a son of man (like us) and THE Son of Man, namely Jesus. One of the things it conveys is the fact that a son of man (including THE Son of Man) is human and subject to death, as was Jesus in his humanity. (That does not prevent Jesus from still being the Son of God and divine.)

  • Dottard, There are no capital letters in the Hebrew alphabet. So where did these capital letters concept originate from and who decided which words to capitalize?
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 10:50
  • @YedduPrasad - true - BUT there are is in Hebrew the article, "the". Ezekiel is called "son of man", while reference in Matt 24:30 we have "The Son of Man".
    – Dottard
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 20:05
  • Agreed Dottard. The Greek Testament, as well as the Christian translations of Tanakh, have the upper case letters.
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 4:58

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