bite the dust

to fail; to be defeated; to die, especially on the battlefield
—The economy is so bad, I predict that half of the businesses on our street will bite the dust this year.

The subject of Psalm 72 is the “king,” or the “royal son.” It is both a prayer for Solomon, David’s son, and a prophecy about another descendant of David who would become Israel’s eternal king—later called the Messiah, or Christ. Among the characteristics of his reign is that he would rule over his enemies:

Before him the coastlands will bow down,

and his enemies will lick the dust. (Psalm 72:9)

Many years later, the prophet Micah spoke of a great king coming from the town of Bethlehem and also predicted a time when God would restore Israel’s glory:

Nations will see this and be disappointed by all their strength,

they will put their hands over their mouths,

and act as if they were deaf.

They will lick the dust like a snake,

like serpents crawling on the ground.

They will come trembling from their strongholds

to the Lord our God;

they will be terrified of you. (Micah 7:16,17)

Lick the dust, which in these two passages refers to someone bowing down in humility (much like fall flat on one’s face), led to the present-day bite the dust, which began with the meaning “to be killed” before gaining its current definition.

Previous Post
Next Post
Comments are closed.
  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed by Craig Thompson under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Any reproduction of this content using passages from the NET Bible must follow NET Bible's copyright policy for use of those passages.

    For information on creating translations of Putting Words in Our Mouths, please go here.

  • Visit My Blog: Clearing Customs

    Big, Big, Big Ideas from—and for—the Friendly Skies

    There’s something about flying that inspires me creatively. Maybe it’s the altitude. Maybe it’s the soda and snacks. Maybe it’s the inflight magazines and pretending that I belong to their target audience. Whatever the cause, ideas come to me when I’m up in the air. What kinds of ideas, you ask? Well, they’re great ideas, […]

    In Praise of Care Packages {—at A Life Overseas}

    Two months ago, I wrote about used tea bags in care packages, which led to reader comments about less-than-optimal gifts, including a single roll of toilet paper, ribbons from graveside floral arrangements, and pencil stubs. But “philcott,” reminds us of the joys that gifts can bring, by pointing out what can happen when they are absent. After […]