I. This is commonly understood of the prince who then reigned over Tyre, spoken to, Ezek. 28:2. His name was Ethbaal, or Ithobalus, as Diodorus Siculus calls him that was king of Tyre when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it. He was, it seems, upon all external accounts an accomplished man, very great and famous; but his iniquity was his ruin. Many expositors have suggested that besides the literal sense of this lamentation there is an allegory in it, and that it is an allusion to the fall of the angels that sinned, who undid themselves by their pride. And (as is usual in texts that have a mystical meaning) some passages here refer primarily to the king of Tyre, as that of his merchandises, others to the angels, as that of being in the holy mountain of God. But, if there be any thing mystical in it (as perhaps there may), I shall rather refer it to the fall of Adam, which seems to be glanced at, Ezek. 28:13. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God, and that in the day thou wast created.
II. Some think that by the king of Tyre is meant the whole royal family, this including also the foregoing kings, and looking as far back as Hiram, king of Tyre. The then governor is called prince (Ezek. 28:2); but he that is here lamented is called king. The court of Tyre with its kings had for many ages been famous; but sin ruins it. Now we may observe two things here:—
1. What was the renown of the king of Tyre. He is here spoken of as having lived in great splendour, Ezek. 28:12-15. He as a man, but it is here owned that he was a very considerable man and one that made a mighty figure in his day. (1.) He far exceeded other men. Hiram and other kings of Tyre had done so in their time; and the reigning king perhaps had not come short of any of them: Thou sealest up the sum full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. But the powers of human nature and the prosperity of human life seemed in him to be at the highest pitch. He was looked upon to be as wise as the reason of men could make him, and as happy as the wealth of this world and the enjoyment of it could make him; in him you might see the utmost that both could do; and therefore seal up the sum, for nothing can be added; he is a complete man, perfect in suo genere—in his kind. (2.) He seemed to be as wise and happy as Adam in innocency (Ezek. 28:13): “Thou hast been in Eden, even in the garden of God; thou hast lived as it were in paradise all thy days, hast had a full enjoyment of every thing that is good for food or pleasant to the eyes, and an uncontroverted dominion over all about thee, as Adam had.” One instance of the magnificence of the king of Tyre is, that he outdid all others princes in jewels, which those have the greatest plenty of that trade most abroad, as he did: Every precious stone was his covering. There is a great variety of precious stones; but he had of every sort and in such plenty that besides what were treasured up in his cabinet, and were the ornaments of his crown, he had his clothes trimmed with them; they were his covering. Nay (Ezek. 28:14), he walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, that is, these precious stones, which glittered and sparkled like fire. His rooms were in a manner set round with jewels, so that he walked in the midst of them, and then fancied himself as glorious as if, like God, he had been surrounded by so many angels, who are compared to a flame of fire. And, if he be such an admirer of precious stones as to think them as bright as angels, no wonder that he is such an admirer of himself as to think himself as great as God. Nine several sorts of previous stones are here named, which were all in the high priest’s ephod. Perhaps they are particularly named because he, in his pride, used to speak particularly of them, and tell those about him, with a great deal of foolish pleasure, “This is such a precious stone, of such a value, and so and so are its virtues.” Thus is he upbraided with his vanity. Gold is mentioned last, as far inferior in value to those precious stones; and he used to speak of it accordingly. Another thing that made him think his palace a paradise was the curious music he had, the tabrets and pipes, hand-instruments and wind-instruments. The workmanship of these was extraordinary, and they were prepared for him on purpose; prepared in thee, the pronoun is feminine—in thee, O Tyre! or it denotes that the king was effeminate in doting on such things. They were prepared in the day he was created, that is, either born, or created king; they were made on purpose to celebrate the joys either of his birth-day or of his coronation-day. These he prided himself much in, and would have all that came to see his palace take notice of them. (3.) He looked like an incarnate angel (Ezek. 28:14): Thou art the anointed cherub that covers or protects; that is, he looked upon himself as a guardian angel to his people, so bright, so strong, so faithful, appointed to this office and qualified for it. Anointed kings should be to their subjects as anointed cherubim, that cover them with the wings of their power; and, when they are such, God will own them. Their advancement was from him: I have set thee so. Some think, because mention was made of Eden, that it refers to the cherub set on the east of Eden to cover it, Gen. 3:24. He thought himself as able to guard his city from all invaders as that angel was for his charge. Or it may refer to the cherubim in the most holy place, whose wings covered the ark; he thought himself as bright as one of them. (4.) He appeared in as much splendour as the high priest when he was clothed with his garments for glory and beauty: “Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God, as president of the temple built on that holy mountain; thou didst look as great, and with as much majesty and authority, as ever the high priest did when he walked in the temple, which was garnished with precious stones (2 Chron. 3:6), and had his habit on, which had precious stones both in the breast and on the shoulders; in that he seemed to walk in the midst of the stones of fire.” Thus glorious is the king of Tyre; at least he thinks himself so.
2. Let us now see what was the ruin of the king of Tyre, what it was that stained his glory and laid all this honour in the dust (Ezek. 28:15): “Thou wast perfect in thy ways; thou didst prosper in all thy affairs and every thing went well with thee; thou hadst not only a clear, but a bright reputation, from the day thou wast created, the day of thy accession to the throne, till iniquity was found in thee; and that spoiled all.” This may perhaps allude to the deplorable case of the angels that fell, and of our first parents, both of whom were perfect in their ways till iniquity was found in them. And when iniquity was once found in him it increased; he grew worse and worse, as appears (Ezek. 28:18): “Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries; thou hast lost the benefit of all that which thou thoughtest sacred, and in which, as in a sanctuary, thou thoughtest to take refuge; these thou hast defiled, and so exposed thyself by the multitude of thy iniquities.” Now observe,
(1.) What the iniquity was that was the ruin of the king of Tyre. [1.] The iniquity of his traffic (so it is called, Ezek. 28:18), both his and his people’s, for their sin is charged upon him, because he connived at it and set them a bad example (Ezek. 28:16): By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thus thou hast sinned. The king had so much to do with his merchandise, and was so wholly intent upon the gains of that, that he took no care to do justice, to give redress to those that suffered wrong and to protect them from violence; nay, in the multiplicity of business, wrong was done to many by oversight; and in his dealings he made use of his power to invade the rights of those he dealt with. Note, Those that have much to do in the world are in great danger of doing much amiss; and it is hard to deal with many without violence to some. Trades are called mysteries; but too many make them mysteries of iniquity. [2.] His pride and vain-glory (Ezek. 28:17): “Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou wast in love with thyself, and thy own shadow. And thus thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of the brightness, the pomp and splendour, wherein thou livedst.” He gazed so much upon this that it dazzled his eyes and prevented him from seeing his way. He appeared so puffed up with his greatness that it bereaved him both of his wisdom and of the reputation of it. He really became a fool in glorying. Those make a bad bargain for themselves that part with their wisdom for the gratifying of their gaiety, and, to please a vain humour, lose a real excellency.
(2.) What the ruin was that this iniquity brought him to. [1.] He was thrown out of his dignity and dislodged from his palace, which he took to be his paradise and temple (Ezek. 28:16): I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God. His kingly power was high as a mountain, setting him above others; it was a mountain of God, for the powers that be are ordained of God, and have something in them that is sacred; but, having abused his power, he is reckoned profane, and is therefore deposed and expelled. He disgraces the crown he wears, and so has forfeited it, and shall be destroyed from the midst of the stones of fire, the precious stones with which his palace was garnished, as the temple was; and they shall be no protection to him. [2.] He was exposed to contempt and disgrace, and trampled upon by his neighbours: “I will cast thee to the ground 2c5c (Ezek. 28:17), will cast thee among the pavement-stones, from the midst of the precious stones, and will lay thee a rueful spectacle before kings, that they may behold thee and take warning by thee not to be proud and oppressive.” [3.] He was quite consumed, his city and he in it: I will bring forth a fire from the midst of thee. The conquerors, when they have plundered the city, will kindle a fire in the heart of it, which shall lay it, and the palace particularly, in ashes. Or it may be taken more generally for the fire of God’s judgments, which shall devour both prince and people, and bring all the glory of both to ashes upon the earth; and this fire shall be brought forth from the midst of thee. All God’s judgments upon sinners take rise from themselves; they are devoured by a fire of their own kindling. [4.] He was hereby made a terrible example of divine vengeance. Thus he is reduced in the sight of all those that behold him (Ezek. 28:18): Those that know him shall be astonished at him, and shall wonder how one that stood so high could be brought so low. The king of Tyre’s palace, like the temple at Jerusalem, when it is destroyed shall be an astonishment and a hissing, 2 Chron. 7:20, 21. So fell the king of Tyre.