Here, I. The prophet is ordered to take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, Ezek. 32:2. It concerns ministers to be much of a serious spirit, and, in order thereunto, to be frequent in taking up lamentations for the fall and ruin of sinners, as those that have not desired, but dreaded, the woeful day. Note, Ministers that would affect others with the things of God must make it appear that they are themselves affected with the miseries which sinners bring upon themselves by their sins. It becomes us to weep and tremble for those that will not weep and tremble for themselves, to try if thereby we may set them a weeping, set them a trembling.
II. He is ordered to show cause for that lamentation.
1. Pharaoh has been a troubler of the nations, even of his own nation, which he should have procured the repose of: He is like a young lion of the nations (Ezek. 32:2), loud and noisy, hectoring and threatening as a lion when he roars. Great potentates, if they by tyrannical and oppressive, are in God’s account no better than beasts of prey. He is like a whale, or dragon, like a crocodile (so some) in the seas, very turbulent and vexatious, as the leviathan that makes the deep to boil like a pot, Job 41:31. When Pharaoh engaged in an unnecessary war with the Cyrenians he came forth with his rivers, with his armies, troubled the waters, disturbed his own kingdom and the neighbouring nations, fouled the rivers, and made them muddy. Note, A great deal of disquiet is often given to the world by the restless ambition and implacable resentments of proud princes. Ahab is he that troubles Israel, and not Elijah.
2. He that has troubled others must expect to be himself troubled; for the Lord is righteous, Josh. 7:25.
(1.) This is set forth here by a comparison. Isa. Pharaoh like a great whale, which, when it comes up the river, gives great disturbance, a leviathan which Job cannot draw out with a hook? (Job 41:1), yet God has a net for him which is large enough to enclose him and strong enough to secure him (Ezek. 32:3): I will spread my net over thee, even the army of the Chaldeans, a company of many people; they shall force him out of his fastnesses, dislodge him out of his possessions, throw him like a great fish upon dry ground, upon the open field (Ezek. 32:4), where being out of his element, he must die of course, and be a prey to the birds and beasts, as was foretold, Ezek. 29:5. What can the strongest fish do to help itself when it is out of the water and lies gasping? The flesh of this great whale shall be laid upon the mountains (Ezek. 32:5) and the valleys shall be filled with his height. Such numbers of Pharaoh’s soldiers shall be slain that the dead bodies shall be scattered upon the hills and there shall be heaps of them piled up in the valleys. Blood shall be shed in such abundance as to swell the rivers in the valleys. Or, Such shall be the bulk, such the height, of this leviathan, that, when he is laid upon the ground, he shall fill a valley. Such vast quantities of blood shall issue from this leviathan as shall water the land of Egypt, the land wherein now he swims, now he sports himself, Ezek. 32:6. It shall reach to the mountains, and the waters of Egypt shall again be turned into blood by this means: The rivers shall be full of thee. The judgments executed upon Pharaoh of old are expressed by the breaking of the heads of leviathan in the waters, Ps. 74:13, 14. But now they go further; this old serpent not only has now his head bruised, but is all crushed to pieces.
(2.) It is set forth by a prophecy of the deep impression which the destruction of Egypt should make upon the neighbouring nations; it would put them all into a consternation, as the fall of the Assyrian monarchy did, Ezek. 31:15, 16. When Pharaoh, who had been like a blazing burning torch, is put out and extinguished it shall make all about him look black, Ezek. 32:7. The heavens shall be hung with black, the stars darkened, the sun eclipsed, and the moon be deprived of her borrowed light. It is from the upper world that this lower receives its light; and therefore (Ezek. 32:8), when the bright lights of heaven are made dark above, darkness by consequence is set upon the land, upon the earth; so it shall be on the land of Egypt. Here the plague of darkness, which was upon Egypt of old for three days, seems to be alluded to, as, before, the turning of the waters into blood. For, when former judgments are forgotten, it is just that they should be repeated. When their privy-counsellors, and statesmen, and those that have the direction of the public affairs, are deprived of wisdom and made fools, and the things that belong to their peace are hidden from their eyes, then their lights are darkened and the land is in a mist. This is foretold, Isa. 19:13. The princes of Zoan have become fools. Now upon the spreading of the report of the fall of Egypt, and the bringing of the news to remote countries, countries which they had not known (Ezek. 32:9), people shall be much affected, and shall feel themselves sensibly touched by it. [1.] It shall fill them with vexation to see such an ancient, wealthy, potent kingdom thus humbled and brought down, and the pride of worldly glory, which they have such a value for, stained. The hearts of many people will be vexed to see the word of the God of Israel fulfilled in the destruction of Egypt, and that all the gods of Egypt were not able to relieve it. Note, The destruction of some wicked people is a vexation to others. [2.] It shall fill them with admiration (Ezek. 32:10): They shall be amazed at thee, shall wonder to see such great riches and power come to nothing, Rev. 18:17. Note, Those that admire with complacency the pomp of this world will admire with consternation the ruin of that pomp, which to those that know the vanity of all things here below is no surprise at all. [3.] It shall fill them with fear: even their kings (that think it their prerogative to be secure) shall be horribly afraid for thee, concluding their own house to be in danger when their neighbour’s is on fire. When I shall brandish my sword before them they shall tremble every man for his own life. Note, When the sword of God’s justice is drawn against some, to cut them off, it is thereby brandished before others, to give them warning. And those that will not be admonished by it, and made to reform, shall yet be frightened by it, and made to tremble. They shall tremble at every moment, because of thy fall. When others are ruined by sin we have reason to quake for fear, as knowing ourselves guilty and obnoxious. Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?
(3.) It is set forth by a plain and express prediction of the desolation itself that should come upon Egypt. [1.] The instruments of the desolation appear here very formidable. It is the sword of the king of Babylon, that warlike, that victorious prince, that shall come upon thee (Ezek. 32:11), the swords of the mighty, even the terrible of the nations, all of them (Ezek. 32:12), an army that there is no standing before. Note, Those that delight in war, and are upon all occasions entering into contention, may expect, some time or other, to be engaged with those that will prove too hard for them. Pharaoh had been forward to quarrel with his neighbour and to come forth with his rivers, with his armies, Ezek. 32:2. But God will now give him enough of it. [2.] The instances of the desolation appear here very frightful, much the same with what we had before, Ezek. 29:10-12; 30:7. First, The multitude of Egypt shall be destroyed, not decimated, some picked out to be made examples, but all cut off. Note, The numbers of sinners, though they be a multitude, will neither secure them against God’s power nor entitle them to his pity. Secondly, The pomp of Egypt shall be spoiled, the pomp of their court, what they have been proud of. Note, in renouncing the pomps of this world we did ourselves a great kindness, for they are things that are soon spoiled and that cheat their admirers. Thirdly, The cattle of Egypt, that used to feed by the rivers, shall be destroyed (Ezek. 32:13), either cut off by the sword or carried off for a prey. Egypt was famous for horses, which would be an acceptable booty to the Chaldeans. The rivers shall be no more frequented as they have been by man and beast, that came thither to drink. Fourthly, The waters of Egypt, that used to flow briskly, shall now grow deep, and slow, and heavy, and shall run like oil (Ezek. 32:14), a figurative expression signifying that there should be such universal sadness and heaviness upon the whole nation that even the rivers should go softly and silently like mourners, and quite forget their rapid motion. Fifthly, The whole country of Egypt shall be stripped of its wealth; it shall be destitute of what whereof it was full (Ezek. 32:15), corn, and cattle, and all the pleasant fruits of the earth; when those are smitten that dwell therein the ground is untilled, and that which is gathered becomes an easy prey to the invader. Note, God can soon empty those of this world’s goods that have the greatest fulness of those things and are full of them, that enjoy most and have their hearts set upon those enjoyments. The Egyptians were full of their pleasant and plentiful country, and its rich productions. Every one that talked with them might perceive how much it filled them. But God can soon make their country destitute of that whereof it is full; it is therefore our wisdom to be full of treasures in heaven. When the country is made destitute, 1. It shall be an instruction to them: Then shall they know that I am the Lord. A sensible conviction of the vanity of the world, and the fading perishing nature of all things in it, will contribute much to our right knowledge of God as our portion and happiness. 2. It shall be a lamentation to all about them: The daughters of the nations shall lament her (Ezek. 32:16), either because, being in alliance with her, they share in her grievances and suffer with her, or, being admirers of her, they at least share in her grief and sympathize with her. They shall lament for Egypt and all her multitude; it shall excite their pity to see so great a devastation made. By enlarging the matters of our joy we increase the occasions of our sorrow.