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Daniel 4: Nebuchadnezzar humbly acknowledges God

I read this passage of Scripture this morning and realized something new: much of this chapter was probably dictated by Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel. I always thought the final verses were, but also the opening verses were as well.

We can see very clear parallels between Daniel 4 and the Book of Jonah. In this chapter of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar endured the humiliation of humiliations by being driven out of his kingdom and living as an animal for seven years before being restored as king. He then humbled himself and acknowledged the Hebrew God as the true divinity. This happened because God wants all people to come to Him, not just select people and not just His chosen people. This is exactly what happened in Nineveh: God wanted Jonah to preach there. He disobeyed God before finally going back. Jonah became angry at God for Nineveh’s repentance, and God made it clear to The Grumpy Prophet that He cares for all people–not just the nice ones.

So, in Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar again dreamed a dream. This one he was able to remember. Old habits, though, die hard as he consulted his wise men, astrologers and soothsayers. We can also speculate that if Miss Cleo, Shirley MacLaine and Sylvia Browne were alive then, Nebie probably would’ve called on them also.

Once again, none of the learned scholars were able to interpret the king’s dream. Perhaps it was stubbornness on the king’s part, or perhaps he just didn’t quite grasp the true God yet.

Finally, he brought in Daniel and told him what he dreamed: There was a mighty tree that provided shelter and food. Then, someone tore it down and reduced it to a stump. Let him become as a beast and let “seven times” pass over him.

Daniel was then silent for an entire hour, according to verse 19, as he presumably worried how to tell the king of the somber interpretation. Some kings in those days reacted very unfavorably towards bad news. However, because of how much Nebuchadnezzar obviously cherished Daniel’s wisdom and intellectual abilities, I don’t think he had anything to worry about. After some encouragement from the king to tell the dream, Daniel spoke.

I like what he said in verse 19c: “My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.”

Then Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he, the king, was the tree and that by his arrogance and pride would be humbled and torn down and would spend seven years mentally incapacitated. But he added in verse 27 that Nebuchadnezzar could avoid this fate by humbling himself and showing mercy to the poor.

The king didn’t listen and exactly as what Daniel had predicted did happen. Nebuchadnezzar walked in his palace and marveled at his architecture and said aloud that this was the kingdom he built of his own power and for his own majesty.


Nebuchadnezzar’s Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Immediately a voice came down from heaven and told Nebie that his kingdom was departed from him. He was then driven out of the palace and lived as a beast for seven years, ate grass like oxen, his hair and finger and toenails no doubt grew very long. I can’t even begin to imagine what went through his mind.

The look of shock on Nebuchadnezzar’s face says it all.

And at the end, when his sanity returned to him, Nebuchadnezzar had this to say in verses 34-37:

“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation:

“And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

“At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.

“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works [are] truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”

With the possibly exception of identical twins, no two people are exactly alike, and we can conclude God uses many ways to try to draw people to Him. For many, it doesn’t work, For some, it does. God used His servants Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah and humility to reveal Himself to Nebuchadnezzar, and as we see, the king finally saw the light. I think there’s an excellent possibility that when I get to heaven someday, I’ll see Nebuchadnezzar there also.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981 and has been a professional writer since 2000. He runs three other blogs and also blogs about the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Astros. Post comments here or e-mail richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

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