Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? Isaiah 2:22
God's prophet urges the house of Jacob to trust in God and not man. They had mingled with and counted on other people (v. 6). They heaped up material wealth and accumulated martial power (v. 7). They worshiped in their own ways (vs. 8-9). They trusted in their high towers and fenced walls (v. 15). They savored their flourishing trade and artistic pursuits (v. 16). But when God is exalted they will be brought low (v. 17). Their confidence will turn to fear (vs. 10, 19, 21). "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." (Psalm 118:8)
No confidence can be placed in men, even the greatest of them (Psalm 118:8-9). Let all be ashamed of such thoughts, for:
Man is temporal, a creature whose origin is outside himself. He has a beginning. The very life and breath that he has comes from God: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7) Man as a creature, as well as individual men and women, have a beginning and an ending in the annals of time. Only God is eternal and self-existent (Exodus 3:14). We cannot depend on that which cannot control of the breath of its own nostrils. Our life is so fragile that if the breath of nose and mouth is stopped, the man is dead. Trust (and fear) God -- In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10) -- rather than man who has no control over it (Matthew 10:28).
Man is mortal, a creature of the material world who is subject to death (Romans 5:12; 6:23). He has an end. We are of few days and full or trouble (Job 14:1). Our life is a fleeting breath which briefly appears and then vanishes (James 4:14). If God but "gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust." (Job 34:14-15) Man who cannot control his being is unfit for the trust of another. Cease from man! -- who only survives on the breath God has loaned him, who is here today and gone tomorrow. Trust in the eternal one who abides forever (Hebrews 7:24).
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
Psalm 125:1 They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.
Make Him thy Fear, thy Love, thy Hope,
Thy Confidence and Joy. (Thomas Gibbons, 1769)