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Bible Commentaries

Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Ezekiel 28

Verse 9


‘A man, and no God.’

Ezekiel 28:9

I. At the time of this prophecy Ethbaal was King of Tyre—the representative of the Phœnician Sun-Deity, whose name he bore. Like Herod, he was tempted, in the pride of his heart, to claim the honour which belongs to God alone. He sat on the throne of God, in the midst of the seas. No precious stone from the bed of ocean or the mines of earth was withheld from him. As the cherubim covered the ark with outspread wings, so did he cover the interests of Tyre. He seemed to stand as the beau-ideal of humanity, on the very sapphire pavement described in Exodus ( Ezekiel 24:10; Ezekiel 24:17). But his beauty, of which he was so conscious, caused his heart to be lifted up to his ruin, and the brightness of his glory dazzled his eyes, so that God cast him to the ground as a warning of the terrible consequences of pride.

II. We are strongly reminded, in this marvellous description, of Adam, standing in his native innocence and beauty in Eden; and especially of Satan, before his fall.—Behind the figure of the King of Tyre rises that of the prince or god of this world, when as yet he was the unfallen son of the morning. The creature may be placed in the most favourable circumstances that can be imagined—as, for instance, in Eden, the garden of God, or even in heaven itself—but he cannot remain there if his heart becomes its own centre, or lifted up with pride. We cannot stand for a moment unless we are indwelt by the Spirit of God. The records of the world are full of those who thought they could stand, but who fell, because they had not made God their strength. But the Israel of God shall dwell safely, and shall know the Lord. O blessed day, when we shall rest for ever with God, knowing Him even as we are known!


‘It is a historical parable. The kings of Tyre are first personified as one individual, an ideal man—one complete in all material excellence, perfect manhood. And then this ideal man, the representative of whatever there was of greatness and glory in Tyre, and in whom the Tyrian spirit of self-elation and pride appear in full efflorescence, is ironically viewed by the prophet as the type of humanity in its highest states of existence upon earth. All that is best and noblest in the history of the past he sees in imagination meeting in this new beau-ideal of humanity. It was he who in primeval time trod the hallowed walks of paradise, and used at will its manifold treasures, and regaled himself with its corporeal delights. It was he who afterwards appeared in the form of a cherub—ideal compound of the highest forms of animal existence—type of humanity in its predestined state of ultimate completeness and, glory; and as such, had a place assigned him among the consecrated symbols of God’s sanctuary in the holy mount, and the immediate presence of the Most High. Thou thinkest, thou ideal man, thou quintessence of human greatness and pride—thou thinkest that manhood’s divinest qualities, and most honourable conditions of being, belong peculiarly to thyself, since thou dost nobly peer above all, and standest alone in thy glory. Let it be so. But thou art still a man, and, like humanity itself in its most favoured conditions, thou hast not been perfect before God: thou hast yielded thyself a servant to corruption, therefore thou must be cast down from thine excellency, thou must lose thy cherubic nearness to God, etc.… So that the cry which the prophet would utter through this parabolical history in the ears of all is, that man in his best estate—with everything that art or nature can bring to his aid—is still corruption and vanity. The flesh can win for itself nothing that is really and permanently good; and the more that it can surround itself with the comforts and luxuries of life, the more only does it pamper the godless pride of nature, and draw down upon itself calamity and destruction.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ezekiel 28". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.