The Penalty of Pride
Ezekiel 31:10-13
Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Because you have lifted up yourself in height, and he has shot up his top among the thick boughs…

The description of Assyria's power and glory is introduced by the prophet in order to give point to the account now given of that nation's tragic fate. The more majestic the cedar, the more awful its downfall, and the more affecting the desolation thus wrought. For the warning of Egypt the prophet brings to memory the fate of one of the mightiest and most famous of the kingdoms of the East.

I. THE OFFENSE. This lay, not in the greatness and the might of the nation, which were appointed by Divine providence, but in the misuse of the position attained. The language used by Ezekiel concerning Assyria is very instructive as to Assyria's sin: "His heart is lifted up in his height." It is not the gifts bestowed in which the offence is to be sought, but it is in the erroneous view taken by the possessor, and in his abuse of those gifts. When we read of the heart being lifted up, we are led to understand that the nation took credit to itself for its position and acquirements, and for the influence thus enjoyed. In fact, as our Lord has expressly taught us, the heart is the seat and the source of all sin. Especially apparent is this in the case of the gifts of national exaltation, wealth, and military power; when the hearts of king and of people are filled with pride, self-confidence, and self-glorification.

II. THE CHASTISEMENT. The tree was smitten and felled by the hand of the stranger. A foreign foe, a rival nation, was employed to humble the pride of Assyria. The mighty one of the nations (by which we are to understand the King of the Babylonians) dealt with Assyria's pretensions to supremacy, and confounded them. "Strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off." No greater calamity could have befallen the proud and boastful nation; no more unexpected disaster!

III. THE RUIN. The figurative language used to describe this, though succinct, is conclusive and appalling: "Upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the water-courses of the land," etc. The description affirms of the conquered Assyria:

1. Humiliation; for the lofty is laid low.

2. Desertion: "All the people of the earth have gone down from his shadow, and have left him." Those who praised and flattered Assyria in prosperity, in the time of adversity forsake and flout her.

3. The ruined nation becomes the prey of other peoples, who seek to profit by its fall. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height;

WEB: Therefore thus said the Lord Yahweh: Because you are exalted in stature, and he has set his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height;

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