This short verse is going to show us the frailty of man. It is going to remind us that when man ceases to breath, he ceases to live. So why place our hope and our strength in such frailty? Why not look to the Lord who is eternal and Sovereign?
Because we are all guilty of depending on man to some degree, it is beneficial to pray and ponder Isaiah 2:22. The Scripture says, “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” In other words, why look to man when we have the privilege to look to the Lord?
Stop Trusting in Mere Humans
I appreciate the way Isaiah words this phrase. He is going to quickly remind us that we are, “Mere Humans” and that is all. That type of thinking does not go well in today’s society. To the world, we are highly evolved creatures, but David said in the Psalm 103:14, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
This world worships and praises those of high influence and status, but in the end, our frames are weak because they are dust. It is good for you and I to remember that we are just mere humans. We are not God and we should not view ourselves, pride ourselves or conceit ourselves as though we are God.
If we are wise, we will view our life the way the Psalmist did in Psalm 144:4, “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” Think how wise it is to worship, pray, fellowship and commune with the Almighty who is eternal. Why spend our days only conversing and trying to impress those who are going to pass like a shadow, when our primary concern should be the eternal God who we will one day stand before to give an account (2 Corinthians 5:10).
But A Breath in Their Nostrils
This phrase is reminding us that even the strongest, wealthiest men are only for a moment. Without breath in our nostrils, we cease to exist. This phrase is reminding us that we have no control over our lives. So whatever talents, skills, riches, knowledge, strength and health we may have only exist while there is breath in our nostrils. Once that breath is gone, so is all the things we hold so dear.
You would do dwell to think deeply about the day you will pass from this life into eternity. It is healthy to feel our mortality, to realize that we will not live forever. David said in Psalm 39:4, “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!”
Can you pray a prayer like this? Can you ask the Lord to help you measure your days and to realize how fleeting our life is? I once read about a man nearing retirement who considered what the Bible says that mankind may live to seventy, perhaps eighty years old (Psalm 90:10). To help him learn to number his days, he calculated how many Saturday mornings there would be until he was seventy years old. He filled a jar with the number of marbles representing each week he possibly had left. Every Saturday morning he would remove a marble.
Now to some, that may seem morbid. But think of the wisdom of Scripture to “number our days.” I bet each Saturday he was mindful of the Lord, his wife, children and grandchildren and the things that make life and eternity so important. You may see it as morbid, but I see it as Biblical wisdom. I want to pray, “Lord, teach me to number my days.”
Why hold them in Esteem?
What a great question Isaiah asks. Why look to man? Why hold mere humans who only have breath in their nostrils in esteem?
King David would have agreed with Isaiah’s question. He wrote in Psalm 146:3, “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” He says in Psalm 121:1-2, “ I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
Do you see the incredible contrast? David says his help comes from the Lord, “The maker of heaven and earth.” What a difference between trusting in the Creator verses mere humans who are limited to the frailty of breath in their nostrils!
A Devastating Consequence
There is a serious price to pay for Christians who take lightly Isaiah’s command. Jeremiah 17:5 warns us, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD.’”
You think trust is not a serious issue to the Lord? Jeremiah 17:5 makes it clear that God expect our trust to be in Him and not mankind. He goes on to say that the consequence for trusting in mankind is that our hearts will turn away from the Lord.
What a sad and devastating place to be! Has your heart turned from the Lord? In other words, have you stopped praying because you did not think God was listening? Have you stopped relying on faith and trusting in the Lord because you felt it was a waste of time? Rather than blaming God, you should consider Jeremiah 17:5. Perhaps your heart has turned from the Lord because you made flesh your strength?
My friend, return to the Lord! Join King David, Isaiah and Jeremiah in looking to the Lord and not yourself or others. God can help you! He will help you once you stop trusting in man and begin looking to Him!