We had done with Tyrus in the foregoing chapter, but now the prince of Tyrus is to be singled out from the rest. Here is something to be said to him by himself, a message to him from God, which the prophet must send him, whether he will hear or whether he will forbear.
I. He must tell him of his pride. His people are proud (Ezek. 27:3) and so is he; and they shall both be made to know that God resists the proud. Let us see, 1. What were the expressions of his pride: His heart was lifted up, Ezek. 28:2. He had a great conceit of himself, was puffed up with an opinion of his own sufficiency, and looked with disdain upon all about him. Out of the abundance of the pride of his heart he said, I am a god; he did not only say it in his heart, but had the impudence to speak it out. God has said of princes, They are gods (Ps. 82:6); but it does not become them to say so of themselves; it is a high affront to him who is God alone, and will not give his glory to another. He thought that the city of Tyre had as necessary a dependence upon him as the world has upon the God that made it, and that he was himself independent as God and unaccountable to any. He thought himself to have as much wisdom and strength as God himself, and as incontestable an authority, and that his prerogatives were as absolute and his word as much a law as the word of God. He challenged divine honours, and expected to be praised and admired as a god, and doubted not to be deified, among other heroes, after his death as a great benefactor to the world. Thus the king of Babylon said, I will be like the Most High (Isa. 14:14), not like the Most Holy. “I am the strong God, and therefore will not be contradicted, because I cannot be controlled. I sit in the seat of God; I sit as high as God, my throne equal with his. Divisum imperium cum Jove Caesar habet—Caesar divides dominion with Jove. I sit as safely as God, as safely in the heart of the seas, and as far out of the reach of danger, as he in the height of heaven.” He thinks his guards of men of war about his throne as pompous and potent as the hosts of angels that are about the throne of God. He is put in mind of his meanness and mortality, and, since he needs to be told, he shall be told, that self-evident truth, Thou art a man, and not God, a depending creature; thou art flesh, and not spirit, Isa. 31:3. Note, Men must be made to know that they are but men, Ps. 9:20. The greatest wits, the greatest potentates, the greatest saints, are men, and not gods. Jesus Christ was both God and man. The king of Tyre, though he has such a mighty influence upon all about him, and with the help of his riches bears a mighty sway, though he has tribute and presents brought to his court with as much devotion as if they were sacrifices to his altar, though he is flattered by his courtiers and made a god of by his poets, yet, after all, he is but a man; he knows it; he fears it. But he sets his heart as the heart of God; “Thou hast conceited thyself to be a god, hast compared thyself with God, thinking thyself as wise and strong, and as fit to govern the world, as he.” It was the ruin of our first parents, and ours in them, that they would be as gods, Gen. 3:5. And still that corrupt nature which inclines men to set up themselves as their own masters, to do what they will, and their own carvers, to have what they will, their own end, to live to themselves, and their own felicity, to enjoy themselves, sets their hearts as the heart of God, invades his prerogatives, and catches at the flowers of his crown—a presumption that cannot go unpunished.
2. We are here told what it was that he was proud of. (1.) His wisdom. It is probable that this prince of Tyre was a man of very good natural parts, a philosopher, and well read in all the parts of learning that were then in vogue, at least a politician, and one that had great dexterity in managing the affairs of state. And then he thought himself wiser than Daniel, Ezek. 28:3. We found, before, that Daniel, though now but a young man, was celebrated for his prevalency in prayer, Ezek. 14:14. Here we find he was famous for his prudence in the management of the affairs of this world, a great scholar and statesman, and withal a great saint, and yet not a prince, but a poor captive. It was strange that under such external disadvantages his lustre should shine forth, so that he had become wise to a proverb. When the king of Tyre dreams himself to be a god he says, I am wiser than Daniel. There is no secret that they can hide from thee. Probably he challenged all about him to prove him with questions, as Solomon was proved, and he had unriddled all their enigmas, had solved all their problems, and none of them all could puzzle him. He had perhaps been successful in discovering plots, and diving into the counsels of the neighbouring princes, and therefore thought himself omniscient, and that no thought could be withholden from him; therefore he said, I am a god. Note, Knowledge puffeth up; it is hard to know much and not to know it too well and to be elevated with it. He that was wiser than Daniel was prouder than Lucifer. Those therefore that are knowing must study to be humble and to evidence that they are so. (2.) His wealth. That way his wisdom led him; it is not said that by his wisdom he searched into the arcana either of nature or government, modelled the state better than it was, or made better laws, or advanced the interests of the commonwealth of learning; but his wisdom and understanding were of use to him in traffic. As some of the kings of Judah loved husbandry (2 Chron. 26:10), so the king of Tyre loved merchandise, and by it he got riches, increased his riches, and filled his treasures with gold and silver, Ezek. 28:4, 5. See what the wisdom of this world is; those are cried up as the wisest men that know how to get money and by right or wrong to raise estates; and yet really this their way is their folly, Ps. 49:13. It was the folly of the king of Tyre, [1.] That he attributed the increase of his wealth to himself and not to the providence of God, forgetting him who gave him power to get wealth, Deut. 8:17, 18. [2.] That he thought himself a wise man because he was a rich man; whereas a fool may have an estate (Eccl. 2:19), yea, and a fool may get an estate, for the world has been often observed to favour such, when bread is not to the wise, Eccl. 9:11. [3.] That his heart was lifted up because of his riches, because of the increase of his wealth, which made him so haughty and secure, so insolent and imperious, and which set his heart as the heart of God. The man of sin, when he had a great deal of worldly pomp and power, showed himself as a god, 2 Thess. 2:4. Those who are rich in this world have therefore need to charge that upon themselves which the word of God charges upon them, that they be not high-minded, 1 Tim. 6:17.
II. Since pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall, he must bell him of that destruction, of that fall, which was now hastening on as the just punishment of his presumption in setting up himself a rival with God. “Because thou hast pretended to be a god (Ezek. 28:6), therefore thou shalt not be long a man,” Ezek. 28:7. Observe here,
1. The instruments of his destruction: I will bring strangers upon thee—the Chaldeans, whom we do not find mentioned among the many nations and countries that traded with Tyre, Ezek. 27:1-36 If any of those nations had been brought against it, they would have had some compassion upon it, for old acquaintance-sake; but these strangers will have none. They are people of a strange language, which the king of Tyre himself, wise as he is, perhaps understands not. They are the terrible of the nations; it was an army made up of many nations, and it was at this time the most formidable both for strength and fury. These God has at command, and these he will bring upon the king of Tyre.
2. The extremity of the destruction: They shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom (Ezek. 28:7), against all those things which thou gloriest in as thy beauty and the production of thy wisdom. Note, It is just with God that our enemies should make that their prey which we have made our pride. The king of Tyre’s palace, his treasury, his city, his navy, his army, these he glories in as his brightness, these, he thinks, made him illustrious and glorious as a god on earth. But all these the victorious enemy shall defile, shall deface, shall deform. He thought them sacred, things that none durst touch; but the conquerors shall seize them as common things, and spoil the brightness of them. But, whatever becomes of what he has, surely his person is sacred. No (Ezek. 28:8): They shall bring thee down to the pit, to the grave; thou shalt die the death. And, (1.) It shall not be an honourable death, but an ignominious one. He shall be so vilified in his death that he may despair of being deified after his death. He shall die the deaths of those that are slain in the midst of the seas, that have no honour done them at their death, but their dead bodies are immediately thrown overboard, without any ceremony or mark of distinction, to be a feast for the fish. Tyre is likely to be destroyed in the midst of the sea (Ezek. 27:32) and the prince of Tyre shall fare no better than the people. (2.) It shall not be a happy death, but a miserable one. He shall die the deaths of the uncircumcised (Ezek. 28:10), of those that are strangers to God and not in covenant with him, and therefore die under his wrath and curse. It is deaths, a double death, temporal and eternal, the death both of body and soul. He shall die the second death; that is dying miserably indeed. The sentence of death here passed upon the king of Tyre is ratified by a divine authority: I have spoken it, saith the Lord God. And what he has said he will do. None can gainsay it, nor will he unsay it.
3. The effectual disproof that this will be of all his pretensions to deity (Ezek. 28:9): “When the conqueror sets his sword to thy breast, and thou seest no way of escape, wilt thou then say, I am God? Wilt thou then have such a conceit of thyself as thou now hast? No; thy being overpowered by death, and by the fear of it, will force thee to own that thou art not a god, but a weak, timorous, trembling, dying man. In the hand of him that slays thee (in the hand of God, and of the instruments that he employed) thou shalt be a man, and not God, utterly unable to resist, and help thyself.” I have said, You are gods; but you shall die like men, Ps. 82:6, 7. Note, Those who pretend to be rivals with God shall be forced one way or other to let fall their claims. Death at furthest, when we come into his hand, will make us know that we are men.