Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,…
Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the King of Tyrus, etc. This lamentation for the Prince of Tyre presents considerable difficulties to the expositor. It has been interpreted from various points of view, which we need not discuss here. Different meanings also have been assigned to many of its clauses. Two things of great importance to a correct understanding of it, however, seem to us quite clear.
1. That in the King of Tyre here we have the representation of an ideal person, who stands for the Tyrian monarchy. "The kings of Type," says Fairbairn, "are personified as one individual, an ideal man - one complete in all material excellence, perfect manhood."
2. That a deep vein of irony runs through the description of the perfections and splendors of this ideal prince. "This ideal man, the representative of whatever there was of greatness and glory in Type, and in whom the Tyrian spirit of self-elation and pride appears in full efflorescence, is ironically viewed by the prophet as the type of humanity in its highest states of existence upon earth. All that is best and noblest in the history of the past he sees in imagination meeting in this new beau-ideal of humanity." This irony implies that the Prince of Tyre had a very exaggerated sense of his own greatness and glory; otherwise it would be pointless anti inapt. This paragraph presents to us man in three impressive aspects.
I. MAN IN A MOST EXALTED CONDITION AND MOST FELICITOUS CIRCUMSTANCES. (Vers. 12-15.)
1. Here is a most exalted condition. This condition is variously described. "Thou sealest up the sum" (Ver. 12). "To seal means to seal up and close that which is complete (cf. Daniel 9:24; Job 9:7). To seal the sum is to make up the whole measure of perfection." The King of Tyre is said to be "full of wisdom: In our homily on the foregoing paragraph we noticed that he boasted of his wisdom (cf. Vers. 3-5). He was probably praised and flattered because of it. With truth Greenhill observes, "When princes know a little in anything, they are applauded and. magnified for knowing men; but if they have got some deeper insight into things than others, then they are deified." This king is also represented as "perfect in beauty:' In form and features, in expression and action, he deemed himself perfect. Or the Tyrians regarded their monarchy as perfect in its order and power and splendor. "Thou wast perfect in all thy ways from the day that thou wast created" (Ver. 15).
2. Here are most felicitous circumstances. (Vers. 13, 14.)
(1) Delightful residence. "Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God." The reference is probably to the luxuriousness and beauty and grandeur of Tyre. The king had lived there in the full enjoyment of its countless comforts and its various pleasures, realizing as it were a paradisiacal existence.
(2) Royal splendors. "Every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond" etc. "The precious stones with which the king is bedecked bring the glory of his rank to outward view." He had jewels in great abundance, and rich variety, and of rare luster and beauty. "Full many a gem of purest ray serene" glittered upon his person. Music is mentioned as another element of the royal state and glory. "The workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared." The accession of the king to the throne was celebrated with musical honors and rejoicings. Or perhaps the clause means that the Tyrian monarchy was thus inaugurated. In either case, music was one of the delights of the royal court of Tyre.
(3) Illustrious station (Ver. 14). "Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth." The cherub was an ideal combination of creature life in highest forms and fullest perfection; and the cherubs in the temple were consecrated and anointed with oil (Exodus 40:9). And as a king the Prince of Tyre was anointed, and was looked up to, or looked upon himself, as the embodiment of perfection. Moreover, as the cherubim with outstretched wings covered the mercy-seat, so the King of Tyre covered his people with his protection. The prophet goes on to say, "Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God," which the 'Speaker's Commentary' explains thus: "The cherub was in the temple on the holy mountain, so the Prince of Tyre was presiding over the island-city, rising like a mountain from the deep." But "the holy mountain of God" may be simply a figure denoting a very exalted station. The prophet continues: "Thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire." Various and conflicting are the interpretations of this clause. It probably means that his state apartments were decorated with precious stones like those mentioned in Ver. 13 (cf. Ezekiel 1:27), and that he walked in the midst of their glittering splendor. Here, then, notwithstanding that the exact meaning of some parts of the text is uncertain, we have a picture of a man in very exalted condition and very felicitous circumstances.
II. MAN IN A MOST EXALTED CONDITION AND MOST FELICITOUS CIRCUMSTANCES FALLING INTO HEINOUS SINS, (Vers. 16-18.) Unrighteousness was found in this exalted prince. Two forms of sin in particular are charged against him.
1. Injustice in commerce. "By the multitude of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned.... By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries." Great traffic occasions great temptation. When men are devoted to merchandise, their path is beset by moral perils. They will be tempted to achieve commercial success by unworthy or unrighteous means - means which the unsophisticated conscience condemns as sinful, but which the commercial world allows and practices under plausible names. "The constant excitement of selfishness and covetousness connected with trade can only be effectually counteracted by the grace of God." "They that desire to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare," etc. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10).
2. Pride of person and position. "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness." The pride of this prince has already met with deserved rebuke. "Thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches" (Ver. 5); "Thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas" (Ver. 2). Secular prosperity often begets pride, and pride (as in the case of the King of Tyre) corrupts wisdom. Hengstenberg observes truly, "The foundation of wisdom is humility, which sees things as they are, has an open eye for its own weakness and the excellences of others, and is on its guard against dangerous undertakings, as David says in Psalm 131:1, 'O Lord, my heart is not haughty,' etc. The 'brightness' received into the heart blinds the eye, so that one regards himself alone as great, and everything else as small, and rushes wantonly into dangers for which he is not prepared, and enters on paths which lead to perdition; as, for example, Tyre undertook the combat against the flourishing Chaldea monarchy. God does not need to appear as a Deus ex machined in the judgment upon the proud, who wantonly brings himself to ruin."
III. MAN IN EXALTED CONDITION AND FELICITOUS CIRCUMSTANCES, HAVING FALLEN INTO HEINOUS SINS, VISITED WITH SEVERE PUNISHMENT. Three features of the punishment of the proud Prince of Tyro are exhibited by the prophet.
1. His forcible removal from his exalted condition and felicitous circumstances. "Therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire." He had gloried in his wealth and power and grandeur, and he should be deprived of them all.
2. His open degradation. "I have cast thee to the ground, I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee." "Formerly," says Hengstenberg, "in its brightness a spectacle of wonder and envy for kings, Tyro is now become for them a spectacle of astonishment and spiteful joy in its terrible downfall" (cf. Ezekiel 27:36). This was the appropriate punishment of excessive pride. The punishment corresponded with the sin. "When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom" (Proverbs 11:2; Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 18:12).
3. His utter destruction. "Therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee, it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee." The fire signifies the wrath of God in the punishment of sin; and the effect of that wrath would be the complete destruction of the Tyrian monarchy. Here is an important fact. The destructive fire springs out of the midst of that which is to be destroyed. "All God's judgments upon sinners take rise from themselves; they are devoured by a fire of their own kindling." "The fire of lust and covetous desire draws after it the other fire of judgment."
CONCLUSION. Several important lessons are enforced by this subject. We mention three of them.
1. The unsatisfactoriness of temporal prosperity when dissociated from righteous principles and intelligent piety.
2. The peculiar moral perils of successful traders, whether as communities or individuals.
3. The necessity of resisting the earliest risings of pride. - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,