The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,…
There is a striking resemblance between a gallant ship and an empire. Many persons and orders are united in a state under one governor or captain. There is a unity amid diversity. A state, like a ship, has interchange of interests with other nations. Upon the skill and prudence of the pilot depends the prosperity of empire or ship. The whole life of Tyre was poured into the channel of commerce. Hence the figure would be readily appreciated.
I. THE COMPONENT PARTS OF THIS SHIP WERE GATHERED WORLD-WIDE. The timber was supplied from one country, iron from another, cordage from a third, sails from a fourth. Evidently God intended that nations should be linked together in interdependence. The commodities essential for civilization are wisely distributed through many lands, so that friendly intercommunion may be mutual advantage. National exclusiveness is substantial loss. No country is prosperous in the highest measure that is not willing to import learning and legislation, scientific inventions and natural products, from other lands. Tyre owed her greatness and her prosperity to a large and generous commerce. She was willing to receive from the most obscure or most distant people. The ripest sage can learn from a little child.
II. THE SHIP'S CREW. "Thy wise men, O Tyrus, that were in thee, were thy pilots." Sailors, helmsmen, and defenders were chosen of those most skilful for their particular work. Such a course is the only reasonable one; and yet, in the direction of political affairs, this course is often abandoned. Men are allowed to rule, or are chosen to rule, either in supreme or subordinate places, because of their pedigree, or their titles, or their wealth, or their arrogance. The interests of the state are imperiled, the safety of the state is jeopardized, by partiality or by partisanship. The only qualification for office is personal fitness. No one would entrust his life in a ship which was not commanded by a skilful and experienced captain.
III. THE SHIP'S BUSINESS. The proper business of a ship is usefulness. She has been constructed and manned to convey passengers and commodities from land to land. The over plus of material substance in one land may thus be conveyed to lands where lack is felt. Interchange promotes mutual advantage, mutual confidence, mutual good will. The nation so employed is a blessing to the world. Knowledge is diffused, healthy emulation is aroused, religious truth is disseminated.
IV. EVERY DETAIL OF A NATION'S COMMERCE HAS AN INTEREST IN THE MIND OF GOD. It is very noteworthy that God should have made known to Ezekiel all these particulars in the history and commerce of Tyre; for it is obvious that the prophet in Chaldea could have known them in no other way - unless, indeed, he had been there before the Captivity. Not an item in the mercantile transactions of Tyre but received the cognizance of God. Every purchase, every sale, obtained either his smile or his frown. Nor, if we reflect on the matter, need we wonder. If God takes an interest in all our personal affairs, so must he also in our united interests and in our public concerns. If he stoops to count the hairs of our head, he is only consistent with himself when he notes every legislative measure and every international transaction.
V. SELF-ESTEEM IS AN ELEMENT OF WEAKNESS. "O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of perfect beauty." A well-built ship, well fitted and complete, is a thing of beauty. It has a charm for the eye. But herein lies a danger. If the owner be taken up with the beauty of his ship, he is prone to neglect her planks and bolts and cordage. The external brightness of a ship is no security against inward rottenness. So is it with the state politic. There may be many outward signs of prosperity - wealth, magnificence, high reputation, prosperous commerce - and yet there may be a worm at the root, a hidden leak that may founder the gallant ship. The only real element of stability is righteousness. The only true rampart of defense is the favor of Jehovah. Instead of self-esteem, there ought to be thankfulness. Instead of self-boasting, there should be trust in God.
VI. THE STOUTEST SHIP IS LIABLE TO WRECK. Every part in the construction and furniture of a ship is a human contrivance to harmonize with the forces of God in nature, and to resist what is perilous to life. Yet human contrivances are, at the best, imperfect. They cannot face, in serious battle, the material forces of God. Some simple occurrence in nature, such as a waterspout, an electric spark, or an earthquake, may shatter in a moment the staunchest ship. Sooner or later every ship finishes its career. Scarcely ever has a ship endured the natural period of a human life. If it has braved a thousand storms, it yields to natural decay, and falls to pieces in the harbor. Apart from God, there is nothing durable, nothing permanent.
VII. THE WRECK OF A NOBLE SHIP PRODUCES WIDESPREAD GRIEF. It is a spectacle distressing to the eye to see a fine ship wrecked upon a rocky coast. But as soon as the imagination takes in the full meaning of the event, the pain felt is greater. We think of the crew - all their privations and anxieties and final death. We think of desolate widows and orphaned children. We think of the loss of valuable property, the frustration of hopes, the impotence of human contrivances and skill, the blow to further enterprise, the sense of hidden danger which surrounds us all. Wider still and deeper is the terror awakened in men's minds when a flourishing empire succumbs to fierce invasion. Human hopes are crushed. Security to life and property is disturbed. A great panic spreads. Life in every place seems imperiled. If Type falls, what empire, what city, can be safe? Things material often receive rude disturbance, that we may find our security in that kingdom "which cannot be shaken." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,