Question: "Is the king of Tyre prophecy in Ezekiel 28 referring to Satan?"
Answer: At first glance, the prophecy in Ezekiel 28:11–19 seems to refer to a human king. The city of Tyre was the recipient of some of the strongest prophetic condemnations in the Bible (Isaiah 23:1–18; Jeremiah 25:22; 27:1–11; Ezekiel 26:1– 28:19; Joel 3:4–8; Amos 1:9, 10). Tyre was known for building its wealth by exploiting its neighbors. Ancient writers referred to Tyre as a city filled with unscrupulous merchants. Tyre was a center of religious idolatry and sexual immorality. The biblical prophets rebuked Tyre for its pride brought on by its great wealth and strategic location. Ezekiel 28:11–19 seems to be a particularly strong indictment against the king of Tyre in the prophet Ezekiel’s day, rebuking the king for his insatiable pride and greed.
However, some of the descriptions in Ezekiel 28:11–19 go beyond any mere human king. In no sense could an earthly king claim to be “in Eden” or to be “the anointed cherub who covers” or to be “on the holy mountain of God.” Therefore, most Bible interpreters believe that Ezekiel 28:11–19 is a dual prophecy, comparing the pride of the king of Tyre to the pride of Satan. Some propose that the king of Tyre was actually possessed by Satan, making the link between the two even more powerful and applicable.
Before his fall, Satan was indeed a beautiful creature (Ezekiel 28:12–13). He was perhaps the most beautiful and powerful of all the angels. The phrase “guardian cherub” possibly indicates that Satan was the angel who “guarded” God’s presence. Pride led to Satan’s fall. Rather than give God the glory for creating him so beautifully, Satan took pride in himself, thinking that he himself was responsible for his exalted status. Satan’s rebellion resulted in God casting Satan from His presence and will, eventually, result in God condemning Satan to the lake of fire for all eternity (Revelation 20:10).
Like Satan, the human king of Tyre was prideful. Rather than recognize God’s sovereignty, the king of Tyre attributed Tyre’s riches to his own wisdom and strength. Not satisfied with his extravagant position, the king of Tyre sought more and more, resulting in Tyre taking advantage of other nations, expanding its own wealth at the expense of others. But just as Satan’s pride led to his fall and will eventually lead to his eternal destruction, so will the city of Tyre lose its wealth, power, and status. Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre’s total destruction was fulfilled partially by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 29:17–21) and ultimately by Alexander the Great.
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