The Folly of Worldly Wisdom
Ezekiel 28:3-10
Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from you:…

It might not have occurred to an ordinary observer that Tyre owed its position to its wisdom, and its downfall to an unwise confidence in that wisdom. Bat the Prophet Ezekiel looked below the surface, and traced the arrogance and presumptuous ungodliness of the great city to its claim to worldly prudence, sagacity, and skill, which, being substituted for true and Divine wisdom, became the occasion of the city's downfall and destruction.

I. THE RANGE AND REALITY OF WORLDLY WISDOM. It has respect to earthly good, prescribing means by which health of body, riches and luxuries, worldly honor, etc., may be attained. It bounds its regards by the horizon of earth and time. It employs instrumentalities which experience approves as efficacious. It takes counsel of the prosperous and the honored. It pursues patiently and persistently aims which are mundane and which are within human reach, wasting no time (as it would say) upon ethereal sentiment, imaginary and ideal perfection, Utopian schemes.

II. THE FRUIT OF THIS WISDOM. The case of Tyre is to the point. The understanding and skill for which the Tyrian merchants and mariners were noted were not employed in vain. Success was their attestation and approval. Uncertainty is indeed distinctive of all human endeavor and undertaking. But a large measure of success may fairly be reckoned upon as likely to be secured by the use of means devised by the wisdom of this world. As a man soweth, so does he reap.

III. THE BOAST OF THIS WISDOM. Tyre claimed to be wiser than Daniel, and to be able to penetrate all secrets. There are those who would think it vulgar and contemptible to boast of their birth, their wealth, their honors, who, however, are not above boasting of their insight, sagacity, and prudence. They would never have fallen into errors which misled their neighbors! They would have known how to deal with such a person, how to contend with such difficulties, how to adapt themselves to such circumstances! Trust them to find their way, however intricate its windings!

IV. THE TRIAL OF THIS WISDOM. It is admitted that, in ordinary circumstances and times, worldly wisdom is sufficient to preserve a man and a nation from calamities, to secure to them many and real advantages. But every true student of human nature and human history is aware that times of exceptional probation and difficulty have to be encountered. It is so in the life of every man, it is so in the history of every people. The principles which served well enough before are useless now. The men of the world are at a loss, and know not whither to turn. The crisis has come: how shall it be met?

V. THE VANITY OF THIS WISDOM. Mere cleverness and fox-like keenness, mere experience upon the low level of expediency, are proved in times of trial to be altogether worthless. Deeply rooted convictions of Divine truth, and habits of reverential conformity to laws of Divine righteousness, "the fear of the Lord" (in the language of Scripture), - such are true wisdom. Anything short of this must issue in disappointment and powerlessness. Human expediencies may carry us a long way, but a point is reached where they fail, and where their worthlessness is made apparent. Such a point was reached in the history of Tyre, when it was found that wealth could not buy off the hostility of Babylon, and that mercenaries could not resist Babylonian arms or policy overcome Babylonian persistence.

VI. THE OVERTHROW AND CONFUSION OF THIS WISDOM. The language of the prophet upon this is singular and suggestive: "I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness." The wisdom in which the Tyrians trusted, and which excited the admiration of their neighbors and rivals, could not withstand the attack of Oriental soldiery and tactics. It was boasted in days of prosperity; but in the day of adversity its strength was small.

VII. THE DISCREDITING AND CONTEMPT OF THIS WISDOM. There are times when professions are accepted as valid and trustworthy; but there are also times when professions are of no avail, and when solid facts and realities alone will abide. As in the case of Tyre, the wisdom which is weighed in the balances and is found wanting is utterly discredited. Men despise what formerly they praised. Such is the fate to which the wisdom of the worldly wise is doomed. "It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent will I reject Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee:

WEB: behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is hidden from you;

The Height of Arrogance
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