In this chapter, the description of Tyre’s wealth and splendor – as well as the portrayal of the sorrow and consternation among the nations after her downfall – is intended to teach us of the vanity and uncertainty of the riches, honors, and pleasures of the world. Here, the prophet was ordered by the Lord to take up a lamentation for Tyre, for its ruin was drawing near quickly and surely. He must upbraid Tyre for her sin of pride; for she had said, “I am of perfect beauty” (verse 3). Zion, which had the beauty of holiness, was indeed called “the perfection of beauty” (Ps. 50:2); for it was the beauty of the Lord. But because Tyre was well-built and well-filled with money and trade, she set herself up as a rival for this perfect beauty. The prophet was also to upbraid Tyre for her prosperity, which was the root of her pride. She lived great, and she had a great trade; and the prophet goes on to describe her height and magnificence, so that God would be more glorified in her fall.
The city of Tyre was advantageously situated at the east end of the Mediterranean Sea, and so it was very convenient for trade by land or by water. Lying between Greece and Asia, it became a great emporium or market-town – the rendezvous of merchants from all parts of the world. The city itself, being built on a hill, made a glorious show and tempted the ships that sailed by to come into her ports. She was guarded by a military force that was very considerable; for although her inhabitants were entirely given over to trade, they knew that they needed a good army for defense. Therefore, they took soldiers from other nations into their pay – such men as were the most fit for service.
Tyre had her harbor well-stocked with an abundance of gallant ships. Such magnificence did they employ in the building of their ships that they made the very benches of ivory, which they imported from Italy or Greece. They were so very extravagant that they made their sails of fine embroidered linen brought from Egypt! And these gallant ships were well-manned by sailors of great ingenuity and industry.
The merchants of Tyre carried on a vast trade and correspondence with all parts of the known world. Some nations they dealt with in one commodity, and some in another – according to the manufactures or harvests with which it was blessed. This is very much enlarged upon in this chapter, since trade was the principal glory of Tyre. And all of this made her very great and very proud. She was much-admired by all the nations that had dealings with her; for she was full of wealth and people, and she was beautiful and glorious in the midst of the seas. Riches are glorious things indeed in the eyes of the children of this world.
So we have seen Tyre flourishing; but in verses 26-36, we see her falling. And great is her fall! The most mighty and magnificent kingdoms and nations, sooner or later, must have their day to come down. They have their appointed time; and after they have reached their zenith, they will begin to decline. Tyre was represented as a proud, rich, and flourishing nation; but now the time was rapidly drawing near for her to be humbled. Pride and sin will bring down the Lord’s judgments upon any nation. Every government or individual that imitates the pride of Tyre will have just reason to tremble while reading of her ruin.
The destruction of this great merchant-city was sudden; her sun went down at noon. And all her wealth, grandeur, pomp, and power only intensified her ruin, and made it more grievous to herself and astonishing to all around her. Verse 26 tells us how her ruin was to be brought about; she was like a great and richly-loaded ship that is split or sunk by the recklessness of her own steersmen. Her rowers themselves had brought her into great and dangerous waters. The governors of the city, and those who had the management of public affairs – by some mismanagement or another – brought down upon themselves the wrath of the Babylonians, which was the ruin of their nation. How great and general the ruin would be! All of Tyre’s wealth would be buried with her – her riches, her fairs, and her merchandise. Anyone who had any dependence upon her and trade-dealings with her would fall with her into the midst of the seas in the day of her ruin. Thus we see that all those who make created persons or things their confidence – those who place their happiness in them, and who rest their hopes upon them – will certainly fall with them. Happy, therefore, are those who have the God of Jacob for their help, and whose hope is in the Lord Who lives forever!
As we read this chapter, we observe the transitory state of everything earthly! What has become of all the great monarchies of the world? They made such a great noise, but alas! The flood of time has washed them all away. But as we view such changeable and fluctuating circumstances of human life, let us look unto the One Who is always the same – yesterday, today, and forever! What a blessed thought that the love and salvation of our Lord Jesus are unchangeable! Although nations and empires rise and fall, and everything earthly is subject to change; yet Jesus and His great salvation last forever, and His righteousness cannot be abolished. Let us make sure that Christ is our Pilot, and His Word is our chart; for at some point in our life, our ship will be brought into great waters. But when He is at the helm, He alone can still the storm and speak peace, and guide us out of the great waters of trouble and tribulation!
Lord, forgive us for our terrible sin of pride! Cultivate a spirit of humility inside each one of us, so that we may not suffer the same judgments that befell Tyre. Amen.
If you prefer to listen, today’s Family Bible guide is available in audio format on both SermonAudio and YouTube.
Join other families all around the globe and receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
painting by Andries van Eertvelt, 1640’s | Wikimedia Commons