In Bob Marley's song, Get Up, Stand Up, he says:

We know when we understand // Almighty God is a living man

What does this mean? Does it make reference to Haile Selassie I being an incarnation of God in Rastafarianism?

3 Answers 3


I think you're right; it's almost certainly a reference to Haile Selassie.

Here we see that Marley once said in an interview:

I would say to the people, Be still, and know that His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is the Almighty.

He then said:

Wha' dem want? a white god, well God come black. True true.

(Note also that "Get Up, Stand Up" was released in 1973, two years before Selassie's death in 1975.)

And in this interview, Buddy Wailer (the last surviving member of The Wailers) is upset about a documentary because:

Rastafari was what Robert Marley sang about all his life. Rasta music is the legacy he has left us. When I [saw the documentary], I did not see an emphasis on Rasta — our faith, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie and the influence these had on the man Robert Marley.

While none of this evidence explicitly confirms my answer, all evidence certainly points that way.

Edit: And note these other lines from "Get Up, Stand Up" (emphasis added):

You see, most people think // Great God will come from the sky

Take away everything // Make everybody feel high

But if you know what life is worth // You would look for yours on earth

And now you see the light // You stand up for your rights

  • Are you suggesting that "you would look for yours on Earth" means that you would look for God on earth?
    – Restioson
    Mar 19, 2017 at 15:56
  • 1
    According to the Rastafarian belief system, yes.
    – Richard
    Mar 19, 2017 at 15:57
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    The answer is correct, but I'm pretty sure "yours on Earth" refers to getting what belongs to you in general, not God in particular (although that would be consistent with Rasta theology as contained in the rest of the song). Mar 21, 2017 at 2:41

I think that Marley here wants to underline that man is the god - people can be as powerful as a god.

  • I think, specifically, Hailie Selassie, as OP says
    – Angst
    May 11, 2017 at 18:06

Powerful verses. The beauty of music is we can all interpret this in our own way.

Whether you believe in Selassie as Christ or not you can find meaning in the words.

There is no right answer.

I personal always fall back to this verse as a place of power in my own Spiritual journey as a reminder to stay grounded and open to all walks of life.

Probably a bit stupid but, when I think of this, I picture the movie Bruce Almighty. God appears as a homeless guy holding random signs sending messages to Bruce.

In my view you never know Who Christ is. You just know he is there.

You can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time. Reminds me to check my self. Never know who your words fall on.

That’s some of what I gain from it.

But I gain more from the two lines prior. Tired of the ....

“Religion” divides faith does not. I’m tired of it too.

All the words are picked intentionally to reflect the beliefs of the author but to at the same time be inclusive of all Willing to listen.

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