Scripture Focus: Isaiah 23.8-9
8 Who planned this against Tyre,
the bestower of crowns,
whose merchants are princes,
whose traders are renowned in the earth?
9 The Lord Almighty planned it,
to bring down her pride in all her splendor
and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.
Reflection: Kingmakers Unmade
By John Tillman
Until Alexander the Great built a land bridge to completely destroy the city 300 years before Christ, Tyre had been an island beloved by kings. It made its fortune and gained power by trade across the sea in many luxurious items.
Tyre was a city-state that, historically, was friendly to Israel. Tyre’s king, sent gifts to David and his son sent gifts to Solomon. Tyre remained on friendly economic terms with Israel. Historians partly credit the vast power, influence, and wealth of Tyre to its strategic location and its partnership with the most powerful kings Israel would ever have.
Isaiah called Tyre “bestower of crowns” and they were connected through trade to royalty across the Mediterranean and throughout the region. “Tyrian purple” was traded with Egypt and Israel and the color remained a mark of royalty and wealth through the New Testament and the Roman Empire.
The term “kingmaker” refers to those who through wealth, power, guile, or all three elevate someone of their choosing to a position of power. You probably know the names of some modern kingmakers. They don’t usually want to be the king. That’s too much work. They just want to pick a king of their liking. Their wealth and influence afford them the opportunity to shape the world.
This is not necessarily bad. It is part of the Edenic command to “subdue” the earth and create growth, blessing, and abundance. Originally this meant agriculture, but economic growth is just agriculture of a different kind. Historically, however, the wealthy and influential tend to end up like Tyre.
Jesus wasn’t joking when he said how hard it was for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. Wealth has unique and difficult dangers that can poison us. Long before the rich young ruler sadly walked away from Jesus, Tyre was given as an example to the world that God would end the pride of those who elevated themselves.
Tyre is a universal warning to all people but even more so to those of us blessed with even moderate wealth. Theoretically, wealth is a neutral tool—neither evil nor good. But in practice, as we shape our world with this tool, it is exceedingly rare that it does not also shape us.
We should take care that our hearts are shaped by Jesus’ warning and that we use our resources to shape a world that testifies to his kingship.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. — Psalm 90.12
Isaiah 23 (Listen -2:50)
Luke 5 (Listen -5:04)
This Weekend’s Readings
Isaiah 24 (Listen -3:11), Luke 6 (Listen 6:46)
Isaiah 25 (Listen -1:59), Luke 7 (Listen -7:14)
Read more about Solomon’s Folly
We are so easily overawed by wealth and wealth so easily overturns our morality.
Read more about Urgent Desire for More
The wealthy young man wasn’t ready to give up earning and he didn’t yet trust what he would stand to inherit.