Psalm 9 ends with this prayer from David: “Put them in fear, O LORD; let the nations know that they are but men.” His request may seem like a curious one at first, but it is actually very insightful regarding human nature and our response to difficult circumstances:
His request is, “Put them in fear, O LORD.” In Hebrews this is literally “put terror to them, YHWH.” And the reason he adds for such an odd request is, “let the nations know that they are but men.” This sheds some light on what might otherwise be considered a puzzling request.
Sometimes people, when they are “riding high”, seem to think that they are almost invincible; that as Henley wrote, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” Without verbalizing it that way, they see themselves virtually as “little gods.”
In such times, God may cause or allow fearful things to come into their lives, to humble them, and put their “ego” back under control. Sometimes it is a tragedy, like an earthquake or a tsunami, which is so beyond our scope of control that they show us in a dramatic way just how powerless we really are in the grand scheme of things: “we are but men.” Thus David’s prayer is for the wicked to be humbled and for them to recognize God’s sovereignty. And we know that many people do indeed turn to the Lord in the aftermath of tragedy.
However, lest we pray this only for “the wicked out there”, there is an application of this truth for God’s people too. Many of us, even as believers in God, feel like we need to “control” our circumstances. We can be very obsessive & controlling about our surroundings — and even other people. For those of us with such tendencies, God may allow circumstances to come into our lives to help us to see that we are not in charge! We are not the “little gods” of our surroundings that we would like ourselves to be! Our response in those times should be humility, and a proper perspective of ourselves before our sovereign King.
Thus it is not only “the nations” who need to “know that they are but men.” Many of us often need a reminder that “He is God and you are not!”