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23. Prophecy About Tyre

The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them. 2Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle; thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. 3And by great waters the seed of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations. 4Be thou ashamed, O Zidon: for the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins. 5As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre. 6Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. 7 Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn. 8Who hath taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the earth? 9The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth. 10Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength. 11He stretched out his hand over the sea, he shook the kingdoms: the Lord hath given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof. 12And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest. 13Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, til the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin. 14Howl, ye ships of Tarshish: for your strength is laid waste. 15And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. 16Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.

17And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. 18And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.

9. To profane the pride, or, to profane the loftiness; for it may be read either way, because loftiness leads to pride, and where loftiness or a high spirit is found, there seldom is humility. But it will be better to read it Pride, which alone provokes the vengeance of God, when men, under pretense of their excellence, vaunt themselves above measure. To “profane” and to “despise” mean the same thing; for those who are high in rank imagine that they are separated from others, and consider themselves to have something indescribably lofty belonging to them, as if they ought not to mingle with the crowd of human beings. But God strips them of their rank, degrades them, and treats them as vile and worthless.

From this passage let us learn, that we ought to contemplate the providence of God in such a manner as to ascribe to his almighty power the praise which it deserves for righteous government. Although the rectitude by which God regulates his judgments is not always apparent or made visible to us, still it is never lawful to separate his wisdom and justice from his power. But as the Scriptures very frequently state and clearly explain the reason why God does this or that, we ought carefully to examine the cause of his works.

That invention which the Schoolmen have introduced, about the absolute power of God, is shocking blasphemy. It is all one as if they said that God is a tyrant who resolves to do what he pleases, not by justice, but through caprice. Their schools are full of such blasphemies, and are not unlike the heathens, who said that God sports with human affairs. But in the school of Christ we are taught that the justice of God shines brightly in his works, of whatever kind they are, “that every mouth may be stopped,” (Romans 3:19,) and that glory may be ascribed to him alone.

The Prophet therefore assigns the causes of so great an overthrow, that we may not think that God acts without a reason; for the inhabitants of Tyre were proud, ambitious, lewd, and licentious. These vices follow in the train of wealth and abundance, and commonly abound in mercantile cities. For this reason he shews that God is provoked on account of these vices, that all who are left may be taught by this example to pay greater attention to their own interests, and not to abuse the gifts of God for parade and luxury. Such is the benefit which we ought to draw from it, for we must not imagine that it is a bare history which is related to us.

But a question arises, Does God hate the exalted rank of princes and lords? For he raises on high princes, senators, nobles, and all classes of magistrates and rulers; and how then can he hate them? I reply, the high station occupied by princes is not in itself hateful to God, but only on account of the vice which is accidental to it, that when they have been highly exalted, they despise others, and do not think that they are men. Thus, pride is almost always an attendant of high station, and therefore God hates it; and, in a word, he must rebuke that haughtiness of which he declares that he is an enemy.


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