The Sea Hath Spoken

Isaiah 23: 4-5. “Be 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. As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre.

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Zidon (Sidon) was the mother of Tyre, and had established, with the two cities, a remarkably lucrative trade in the Mediterranean.  However, The Assyrian destruction or Tyre was so great that now “the sea,” which marked the source of riches for Tyre and Sidon, says there are four things it will no longer do.

  1. I do not travail (a word often used to describe childbirth)  meaning no more cities would be established by Sidon.
  2. I do not bring forth children –the result of travail is birth.
  3. I do not nourish young men
  4. I do not bring up virgins–these two statement both indicate that Tyre would no longer receive help or trade. The city would languish, and Sidon would make no more cities, largely because she was so weakened by the destruction of Tyre.

Just as the report of the destruction of Egypt caused great consternation, so would the destruction of Tyre.  Commerce was destroyed for quite some time, and there was a condition that, in my mind, compares to the devastation of some of our inner cities where jobs have disappeared and income is insufficient.  When that happens, crime is rampant and death is common.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Mercy

In September, I’ll be teaching a class of homeschoolers one of my favorite things–Shakespeare!  Now, that may not ring your bell, and I understand that.  I’m going to do my best, however, to bring it alive to my students–perhaps to open a whole new world of literature for them.

We’ll be studying The Merchant of Venice,  one of my favorites. There are several themes in the play. They include racism,  money-lending, friendship and loyalty, marriage, justice, and mercy.

One of the most-loved speeches of Shakespeare’s is in this play. It is spoken by the lovely Portia, who is appealing to Shylock, the money lender, to  release Bassanio, who loves Portia, from the dreadful sentence of  losing a pound of flesh for his failure to repay a debt.  And Shylock, full of hatred against all who have persecuted him for being a Jew, gets to choose where that pound of flesh will be taken.

Here is her eloquent plea:


   The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

This is a speech that is full of a knowledge of scripture. It refers to mercy as being an attribute of God, and points out that none of us would willingly demand justice from God, but that we would instead pray for mercy.

In Micah 6:8, we read: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

First, I want to point out that  God requires us not to do justice, but to behave justly; that is, in a fair and honest manner.

And then, we are to love mercy.  After all, where would any of us be without the mercy of God? If His justice were not tempered by His love and mercy, we would all face a dismal eternity.

Finally, we are to walk humbly with God. We ought not to walk in pride, holding ourselves up as the model for others. We are to understand that “There is none righteous; no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

Here’s a favorite hymn of mine:

It’s a Great System!

I have a surgery coming up on Aug. 22. It’s not a long procedure, and I won’t need rehab afterward. I’m having a right-side sacroiliac fusion done, which is a beautifully simple procedure that eliminates a ton of pain. When it’s over, I’ll have matching scars on both sides of my spine. And, I hope, no more incisions for quite a while.



So today, we spent the entire morning doing some things that are required for pre-op approvals. We had to drive to the main hospital in Bethlehem, where I answered tons of questions in a pre-op history and physical. They always seem so surprised when I say, “No, never smoked; no, never used alcohol.”

I left that office with a handful of orders that we could take care of at the Quakertown campus, which is much closer to home. So we stopped there where I got stuck for blood work and a couple of other tests. One was a test for MRSA, which I’ve never had to do before. They swab your nostrils. Quick and easy.

What is MRSA? Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In other words, it’s a nasty staph infection that is becoming more common all the time, and is resistant to treatment. It’s contagious. I first learned about it when I did a year of practicum in a nursing home, where it can be easily spread unless there is strict adherence to safety prodecures.

Then I went to another part of the hospital for an EKG. It takes longer for the nurse to stick all the leads on your body than it does to run the actual test.

I came home with a handful of antibacterial soap, wipes, and instructions. Only one more thing to do and I’ll be good to go. I have to get my PCP to sign off on the surgery, and I already have the appointment set up for that.

Thinking about all this, which at first just seemed to be a monumental waste of time, I decided instead that I’m very thankful for the care that is taken to make sure all the bases are covered. Check, check, re-check in order to prevent infection before, during, and after surgery. No stone left unturned.

This is not my first rodeo in the operating room, and I have to say that every experience has been positive. No complaints about the nurses, the techs, the doctors. We have an outstanding medical system that, until recently, is not under the governance of bureaucracies. It has developed in America as a result of free enterprise, outstanding education, and compassionate caregivers. The world still turns to America for procedures and medicine unobtainable elsewhere.

I sure hope we’re not going to lose that status.


Isaiah 23:2-3. ” Be still, ye inhabitants of the isle: thou whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished. And by great waters the sea of Sihor, the harvest of the river, is her revenue; and she is a mart of nations.”

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The inhabitants of the isle: this is a reference to Tyre, the destroyed city.

The merchants of Zidon: Tyre was a colony of Zidon, or Sidon, which was just a bit north up the coast of the Mediterranean. It was the first Phoenician city to send ships on the open seas; and became quite wealthy. However, the people also became careless, and they were a constant thorn in Israel’s side because, even though  Zidon was within the boundaries of the Promised Land, Israel never possessed it. If you are interested in biblical history, as I am, you may want to browse  this article.

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Sihor   is another name for the Nile, which was indeed a mart of the nations.  The outlet of the Nile into the Mediterranean connected Egypt and her great wealth to the other merchants who sailed the Mediterranean, and of course the Nile had great harvests of its own in fish, reeds of papyrus for making paper, and flax for making linen.

Burden of Tyre

Isaiah 23:1. 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.”

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You can see that Tyre was on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Tarshish was all the across the Mediterranean, in what we now know as Spain. There was regular trade between the two cities, so when Tyre falls to Assyria, Tarshish and her merchant ships are going to lose a primary trading port.

The destruction of Tyre was terrible. No house was left standing. There was no one entering into the city. There was literally no available port there any more. Chittim refers to the Isle of Cyprus, and it could mean all of the islands in that end of the Mediterranean that were stops for trading ships. So great was the destruction that it affected trade in the islands as well as in Tyre itself.

The Key of the House of David

Isaiah 22:22-25. “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder: so he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open.  And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.  And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed and be cut down, and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it.”

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There’s a lot going on here. First, it was common for Oriental keys to be large, and often carried on the shoulder. The possession of a key was evidence of property or trust, an emblem of authority.

It was customary to build certain pegs into the house, to hang things on. Unlike temporary nails in plastered wall which can fall out overtime, these were very permanent. On such pegs trophies, shields, swords, gold and silver vessels, changes of raiment, and other valuable things were hung, for show.

Now, on to prophecy. Just as Shebna’s place would be filled by Eliakim,  so Antichrist’s place will be filled by Messiah. Eliakim is marked as a type of Christ in vv. 22-24. Christ Himself , in Rev. 3:7, refers to the key of David in these same terms. I am reminded of the words “And the government shall be upon His shoulder” in Is. 9:6.

The honor and responsibility that Messiah will have will far exceed what Antichrist had, just as Eliakim will far exceed Shebna. And we need to remember that it was pride and self-glorification that defeated Shebna, just as it is pride and self-glorification that will defeat Antichrist.

God Has Raised

Isaiah 22: 20-21. “And it shall come to pass in that day that I will call my servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.”

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We are still seeing the fate of Shebna here.  God told Isaiah that Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, would replace Shebna as the keeper of the treasury. Shebna will be disgraced, and his beautiful clothing will be given to Eliakim–his robe of office, and the belt that signified his importance.

Shebna’s governance had been to oversee the treasury.  That governance would now pass to Eliakim, and instead of using it to further his own status, Eliakim would use his position to be a blessing to Judah and Jerusalem.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Almost Afternoon

I had a couple of very bad days on Friday and Saturday. The pain in my back can take my breath away sometimes, and put me on the floor. Not a happy place. I’m better today, but Terry and I both felt it was too soon for me to sit through the ride back and forth to church, and to sit during Sunday school and the morning service.

So I decided to have my own church. I opened my Bible to James, where I’m reading right now.  Instead of reading just the designated passage, I decided to go back and read the whole book through.

James has always been a book that both convicts and blesses me. It gets right to the point, doesn’t it?

In the very first verse, James identifies himself as a slave of God. The meaning is clear. He does nothing without the Master’s approval and direction. That is how a slave behaves. He has no will of his own, but operates only on the authority of his owner.

Then, in the next few verses, he tells us to count as joy all the trials and temptations we experience in this life.  Really?  I’m supposed to look at this terrible pain  in my back as a joy?

So I’m still thinking about that, and I’ve decided that James knew what he was talking about.  There is no joy in the pain, believe me, but there is great joy in how much time I’ve been able to spend in the Word because I’m unable to do anything else.

There is also joy in knowing that I have friends and family who are praying for me.

And there is joy and great gratitude  in  the progress there has been in controlling chronic pain.  I don’t like taking medication all the time, but I’m very thankful for the relief it gives me. Usually.

Well, that’s just skimming lightly over a few of the opening verses in the book of James.  It’s rich, practical, and convicting.  I recommend it 🙂

Why Shebna?

So I got to wondering today why this story of Shebna is included in Isaiah 22.  I read this morning, again, to the end of the chapter.  Eliakim is chosen by God to take Shebna’s place, and he is a man of honor and integrity.  But my curiosity wasn’t satisfied, so I  did some searching.  I read several articles that all agreed with each other for the most part. Then I found this article, which i believe says it the most clearly and plainly:

There is no need for me to elucidate further. This article puts it all together in plain and simple terms.

The Bible says,

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Every word of Scripture has meaning and value. In the story of Shebna, we can find  so much truth to ponder.


Isaiah 22:15-19. “Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say, What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou has hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock? Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house. And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down. ”

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For more scriptures on Shebna’s story, you can go to Is. 36 and 37; also 2 Kings 19.

Shebna was a chamberlain over the king’s household, with specific responsibility over the treasury.  The use of the word this (Shebna) in verse 15 indicates that Shebna is out of favor with God. Inhis arrogance, he prepared a grave for himself, hollowed out in the rocks of the city, copying the high and mighty of earth.  He would never occupy that grave. Instead, he would be taken captive and the Lord would toss him violently, like a ball, into a far land that was very large. He had provided himself stately carriages which would go, too. He would die in captivity.

In captivity, God would “cover”him, or bring him down to a place of humility, stripping away his outer pretension to being a great man. He would die in obscurity rather than the pomp he had planned for himself.

The lesson here is clear. God will humble us when we aspire to places that do not belong to us. When we hold ourselves high in our own opinion, God will strip us of all pretenses and put is firmly in our right places.

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(Matthew 23:12)