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DANIEL: Humility

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Learning from the Neb. story what humility is and how to be humble before God

Notes & Transcripts
Bible Characters IV. Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream

IV

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S SECOND DREAM

“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me” (Dan. 4:5).

BY AND BY Nebuchadnezzar had another dream. Surely this man will be brought to see God’s hand at last. How many signs and wonders has he seen, fitted to convince him of God’s mighty power! This time he remembers the particulars of the dream well enough: they stand out vivid and clear to his mind. Again he calls in the four classes of men on whom he counts to make dark things light, and hidden things plain; and he recounts to them the incidents of this dream. But the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldæans, and the soothsayers, are all at fault: they cannot tell him the interpretation. When called upon to interpret his former dream they all stood silent. And they stood silent again as the second dream is unfolded to them. There was something in these dreams of the king which stopped their mouths—usually so ready with some plausible interpretation. With these royal dreams it was no use: they were beaten.

It would appear that Nebuchadnezzar had half-forgotten the man who had recounted to him his former dream, and given its interpretation. He says, “At last Daniel came before me” And he proceeds to address Daniel by his Chaldæan name of belteshazzar. “O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong; and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: the leaves thereof were fair and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed; and behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven: he cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able: for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.

As soon as the prophet appears upon the scene the king feels sure that he will now get the meaning of the dream.

For a time Daniel stands still and motionless. Does his heart fail him? The record simply says he “was astonied for one hour; and his thoughts troubled him.” He saw what was meant by the royal dream—that the king was to have a terrible fall; and that the kingdom was, at least for a season, to be taken from this proud monarch. The ready words rush to his lips; but he hates to let them out. He does not want to tell Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom and his mind are both about to depart from him; and that he is to wander forth to eat grass like a beast. The king, too, hesitates: a dark foreboding for a time gets the better of his curiosity. But soon he nerves himself to hear the worst; and in kindly words desires Daniel to proceed, to tell out all he knows. And Daniel breaks the silence. He does not smooth over the matter; but speaks out plainly. There and then he preached righteousness to the king. A very good sermon it was too that he preached. If we had more of the same sort now it would be the better for us. He entreats the king to “break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor: if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.”

Perhaps he told him, for his encouragement, how the King of Nineveh, more than two centuries before, had repented at the preaching of Jonah. He unfolds the full meaning of the dream. He tells the king that the great and strong tree symbolizes Nebuchadnezzar himself; and that just as the tree was hewn down and destroyed, so will he himself be shorn of power and robbed of strength. Daniel tells him that he will be driven from among men, and have to herd with the beasts of the field: yet that nevertheless the kingdom should in the end revert to him, just as the great watcher had spared the stump of the tree.

Repentance might have deferred, or even averted, the threatened calamity. But at that time he “repented not.” And twelve months afterwards the king, heedless of the prophetic warning and lifted up with pride, walked either through the corridors of his great palace, or out upon its roof; looked forth upon the city’s vast extent; gazed at those hanging gardens which counted as one of the wonders of the world; and said: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”

A voice from heaven instantly cried, “The kingdom is departed from thee.” And then and there God touched his reason: it reeled and tottered on its throne, and fled. He was driven forth from men; he herded with animals; his body was wet with the dew of heaven. This greatest of princes had gone clean mad. It would not take me fifteen minutes to-day to prove that the world has gone clean mad; and the mass of professing Christians too. Do not men think and talk as if everything were done by their own power? Is not God completely forgotten? Do not men neglect every warning that He in mercy sends? Yes, men are mad, and nothing short of it.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S REPENTANCE

But Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom had not passed away from him irrevocably; for, according to the prophet’s word, at the close of the “seven times” his understanding returned to him; he resumed his throne and his authority; and his counsellors and officers again gathered around him. His power has been given back to him; and he is now a very different man. Of a truth the king’s reason has returned to him; and he is possessed of a very different spirit. He sends forth a new proclamation giving honour to the Most High, and extolling the God of heaven. Its closing words show his repentance, and tend to prove that Daniel had brought this mighty king to God.

It is interesting to go over the different proclamations of Nebuchadnezzar, and note the change that takes place in them. He sent out one proclamation setting forth what other people ought to do, and how they should serve the God of these Hebrews. But the truth did not get home to himself until now. Here is his closing proclamation: “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. 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.”

When you find that a man has got to praising God it is a good sign. The earlier edict said much about other people’s duty towards the God of the Hebrews, but nothing about what the king himself should do. Oh, let us get to personal love, personal praise! That is what is wanted in the church in the present day. Nebuchadnezzar passes from the stage: this is the last record we have of him. But we may surely hope that, like that of the Corinthians, his was a “repentance to salvation not to be repented of.” And if this were so we may well believe that to-day Nebuchadnezzar the king and Daniel the captive are walking the crystal pavement of heaven arm-in-arm together; and, it may be, talking over the old times in Babylon. Now, if the young prophet had been of a vacillating character; if he had been of a willowy growth, liable to be shaken by every wind, and had not stood there in that city like a great oak—do you think be would have won this mighty monarch to his religion and his God? As a result of that young man going to that heathen city and standing firm for his God, and the God of the Bible, the Lord honoured him; and gave him that mighty monarch as a star in his crown. We may fairly say that King Nebuchadnezzar was led to the God of the Hebrews through the faith of this Hebrew’s love—just because he had

“a purpose firm,

And dared to make it known.”

THE MASTER’S SERVICE

“Service of Jesus! Oh, service of sweetness!

There are no bonds in that service for me!

Full of delight and most perfect completeness:

Evermore His, yet so joyously free!

“Service of Jesus! Oh, service of power!

Sharing His glory, while sharing His shame!

All the best blessings the Master can shower

Rest on the servant exalting His name.

“Service of Jesus! Oh, service joy-giving!

Melting our hearts into rivers of love;

Secret of life and the sweetness of living,

Joy felt on earth that will fill us above.

“Service of Jesus! Oh, service of praising!

Such as redeemed ones rejoicing can sing,

Daily and hourly their voices upraising,

Lauding their Saviour, extolling their King.”

EVA TRAVERS POOLS

IV. A MERCIFUL DESIGN. There is no room for caprice or chance in the government of our world, nor in any of the affairs of men. Does insanity fall upon a man? It is by a heavenly design. “The purpose of Jehovah, that shall stand.” Mark, that God’s intention was not simply the good of one individual man, but the good of all living. God uses one to teach many—disciplines one, that he may be a blessing to multitudes. “No man liveth unto himself.” We receive good and evil mediately from the human race. We transmit blessing or bane to the future ages. God’s high design is to teach men religious truth—“that the living may know that God ruleth.” To know God, as the living, reigning God,—this is among the highest blessings we can obtain. If we know God, we shall long to be reconciled to him, to enjoy his friendship. Acquaintance with God will quicken the aspiration to be like him. To know him is the way to virtue, wisdom, eminence, peace. It is comparatively easy to instruct the beggar, it is very difficult to instruct the monarch, in this lore. How hardly shall they that have riches confess themselves poor! How hardly shall they that have dominion acknowledge their dependence! The poorest in this way may become the richest; the meanest among men may become the mightiest in the kingdom of heaven.—D.
Vers. 19–28.—Prophetic counsel. The true prophet is God’s messenger to men. He has a definite mission to perform, and his service here is unspeakably precious. We have here several marks of a genuine prophet.
I. REAL SYMPATHY WITH HIS FELLOW-MEN. As a servant of the most high God, he can have no sympathy with self-indulgence, pride, ambition, or any form of sin. But he has real affection for men. Beneath the thick crust of worldliness, he perceives a precious soul, bearing still some lineaments of the Divine image; and his aim is to release and rescue the real man. The prophet feels for him, enters into his perplexities, bears with him the burden of sin. He would, if he might, take those burdens on his own shoulders, and bear them to the feet of the Sin-destroyer. To a large extent he identifies himself with suffering and enslaved humanity. Daniel’s silence was more eloquent than any speech, and if he could have averted the monarch’s doom he would have done so.
II. CLEAR INSIGHT INTO UNSEEN REALITIES. The prophet of God has commerce with the invisible realm. He knows, as a matter of fact, that there is a sphere of life encompassing us on every side, though unseen by mortal eye. The world, which is patent to the senses is a very small world compared with the territory unrevealed to sense. The visible creation is full of pictures and symbols of the invisible. Moral truths are adumbrated for us in allegorical forms. The objects and events, with which we are familiar in daily life, serve as hieroglyphs, and reveal to our dull understandings heavenly lessons. The trees of the field illustrate man’s growth, prosperity, decadence, sudden fall. His frailty may be read in the grass of the field. No material scythe is needed to mow him down. He falls before the east wind. We are dullards and fools if we do not read lessons of wisdom from the scenes of nature, especially when the messengers of God have furnished a key with which to unlock the door of interpretation.
III. PERSONAL REPROOF. God’s prophet is bold as well as skilful; fearless as well as affectionate. Being God’s messenger, he is bound to represent God; and, with all God’s might for his defence, nothing can really harm him. Beside, his very eagerness to promote men’s welfare inspires him with courage. He is conscious that he has no other end in view, except to please his Master and to benefit men; hence he proceeds straightway to put his finger upon the plague-spot of men’s disease, and to prescribe the remedy. In dealing with those who desire their guidance, God’s prophets cannot be too plain, too pointed, or too faithful. If a wanderer seeks guidance through a perilous wilderness, his guide cannot be too plain in his instructions, nor too persistent in requiring a faithful following of his words. Fearless vindication of the truth is a mark of a genuine prophet.
IV. WISE ADMONITION. “Wherefore, O king,” said Daniel, “break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.” It is quite probable that this monarch had not been scrupulously upright in his administration of public justice; quite probable that the poor had been enslaved and oppressed. In the enlargement and embellishment of his capital, it is more than likely that forced labour had been largely exacted from the poor. Possibly the captives from Palestine and from other lands were included in these oppressive measures. Anyhow, Daniel traces the coming disaster to its real fount, viz. the personal sin of the monarch; and, like a true friend, he implores the king to endeavour by repentance to avert the awful doom. If the end can be obtained by methods less severe—the end, viz. man’s salvation—God has no wish to employ harsher discipline. His aim is man’s good. “Judgment is his strange work.” But repentance must be thorough, genuine, practical. It must show itself in real fruit. No half-measures will suffice. The great Physician will have a perfect cure. No human eloquence, however persuasive, will induce men to repent without the attendant and subduing grace of Jehovah. Along with our own efforts, there should be earnest supplication for Divine help.—D.
ADVERTISEMENT
Vers. 29–33.—The sudden collapse of pride. Careful and costly measures had been furnished by God to restrain Nebuchadnezzar from the brink of ruin, to which he was fast hastening. The dream, with its appalling omens; the human messenger; the king’s conscience;—all these were voices from the supreme court of heaven. But conscience was silenced, the prophet was forgotten, the sense of danger diminished; Nebuchadnezzar persisted in his sin, until the patience of God was exhausted.
I. WE SEE PRIDE VAUNTING ITSELF IN BOASTFUL VAIN-GLORY. A year had elapsed since the faithful voice of Daniel had wakened the conscience of the king. At first the monarch intended to reform, but procrastination destroyed the sensitiveness of feeling, blinded him to the imminence of danger, and gave momentum to his downward course. The city grew in magnitude and in magnificence. The royal plans proceeded towards completion. Outward prosperity shone upon him in still clearer glory. Notwithstanding, the hour of reckoning was about to strike. Walking upon his elevated palace-roof, and surveying the grandeur of the city, Nebuchadnezzar gave the reins to natural pride—thought and spoke as if there were none greater than he. This is the end pride ever aims at, viz. to make man a god unto himself. Yet was there a solitary stone in that vast pile that had been created by Nebuchadnezzar? Was the mind that designed the whole self-originated? Were the ten thousand artisans who had daily wrought upon those buildings the workmanship of man or of God? Pride is idolatry. Pride becomes made atheism. There is no sin that is so frequently and freely condemned in Scripture as pride. By it the angels lost their high estate. Into this pit Adam fell. “Ye shall be as gods,” the tempter said. “God resisteth the proud.” They are a smoke in his nostrils. “Pride goeth before destruction.” One step only between haughtiness and hell. Insolent arrogance verges on madness.
II. WE SEE HUMAN PRIDE MOVING TO ACTIVITY THE COUNSELS OF HEAVEN. If the statesmen or the artisans in Babylon overheard the utterance of the king, they might have regarded it as a harmless outburst of vanity. Yet God doth not so regard it. It disturbs the tranquillity of heaven. It is regarded there as the language of hostile defiance. The limit of God’s forbearance was reached. There is a time to be quiet and a time to act. The cup of Nebuchadnezzar’s sin was full. He had despised the messages of kindly expostulation from Jehovah, and now no delay was permitted. The king had barely ceased to speak when Jehovah responded. But the words of Nebuchadnezzar were not intended for the ears of God. Ah! still he heard them. He regarded them as an indirect menace to him, and he at once replies. The verdict has passed the Judge’s lips. The kingdom is alienated. In a moment empire is lost. Rank, honour, power, are lost. Manhood is lost. Intelligence, memory, reason, love,—all lost. Bare existence only remains. Like the prodigal boy, he descends step by step into a deeper degradation, and at length herds with the beasts of the field. Yet this is but an outward and visible portraiture of the inward degradation.
III. WE SEE HUMAN PRIDE MEETING WITH FITTING RETRIBUTION. We have here in concrete form—in the history of a living person—the abstract truth, “He that exalteth himself shall be abased.” This is its natural and fitting outcome—its proper fruit. We cannot doubt that every form and degree of sin has, in the Divine code, a suitable and adequate punishment. There is not simply one rigid penalty for every mode and measure of transgression. The justice that presides on the eternal throne has eyes of subtlest discrimination and balances of exquisite nicety. Every step in the judicial procedure of God is accordant with natural principles. Even the forces of material nature will possibly be employed in vindicating the Divine Majesty. The indolence and sensual indulgence of the Babylonian palace served to emasculate Nebuchadnezzar. The rousing energy which war had demanded in earlier years had braced the monarch’s mind. But now the years of public peace had been so misused that inertia bred softness and luxury produced effeminacy. Step by step character deteriorated, though, perhaps, not detected by mortal eye. At length, by the Divine fiat, Reason abdicated her seat; the animal got the better of the man. In his imbecile condition the king imagined himself an ox, and preferred to browse in the fields. He was held fast by this hallucination. His relatives and attendants, very possibly, feared to resist him. They humoured his infatuation until, in the royal paddock, his hair grew ragged and coarse, his nails became long and bent like eagles’ claws. This is the monarch who disdained to recognize God—the monarch who plumed himself on his self-sufficiency! Draw near, all proud defiers of God, and see this portrait of yourselves!—D.
Vers. 34–37.—Light at eventide. It is a perilous thing to abuse any of God’s gifts. Thereby we interfere with the order of his government, and justly provoke his anger. The darkening of intellect with prejudice is no mean offence. Bribing reason with sensual delights not to recognize God—this is a serious injury to one’s self, and daring rebellion against God. Such was the aggravated sin of Nebuchadnezzar; yet the judgment of God was tempered with mercy. The abuse of reason resulted in its loss, yet the loss was temporary. The deplorable darkness was designed as a prelude to clearer light.
I. PRESENT CHASTISEMENTS ARE NOT FINAL. This is a gracious alleviation of the severity. The darkest element in the Divine judgment is absent. There is scope for amendment, repentance, return. A ray of hope lights up the darkness of the scene. Yea, more; the chastisement, however severe, may be transfigured into supremest blessing. “It was good for me to be afflicted.” “Out of the eater may come forth meat.” A rough and prickly shell may enclose the sweetest kernel. The fire which consumes the dross may only beautify the gold. Loss may be only an unrecognized form of gain. Through faith in God’s faithful love we can “glory in tribulation also.” “At the end of the days” the king’s insanity ceased.
II. LOSS OF REASON DESTROYS MAN’S SENSE OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY. God had taken pains, on previous occasions, to convince Nebuchadnezzar that the invisible Jehovah was the true God of the universe, but the king had hardened his heart against the conviction. His inveterate pride prevented his belief. Fain would he be his own god. “Our wills are our own: who is Lord over us?” Such was his favourite doctrine. It was pleasant to be self-contained. It was a sweet morsel for the carnal appetite, this flattering unction that his own skill and strength had gained him this success. And so ingrained into his nature had this habit of self-trust become, that only the severest discipline from God could dislodge it. But when his understanding became dark, and memory failed, and Reason abdicated, and manhood became a wreck, he learnt in the school of personal experience what he refused to learn before, viz. how frail and dependent is man—how absolute a sovereign is God. At last self-sufficiency is rooted out, and a spirit of meek humility takes its place. Be it ours to learn the lesson without so severe a discipline!
III. RECOVERED REASON TEACHES US GOD’S ETERNAL SOVEREIGNTY. The native tendency of man’s mind is to circumscribe its thought about itself. It makes self a centre round which all its thoughts and plans revolve. It vaguely imagines that when personal self fails, the world will collapse. It thinks little about the past, and what has led up to our present privileged position; it cares little about the remote future. But when foolish man “comes to himself,” after his aberrations and follies, he learns that for untold ages One has ruled on the throne of the universe, and is making all events to work out his designs. He was King long before we appeared upon the earthly scene; and he will remain Master of the situation long after we have passed away. His authority none can dispute. Yet, for his honour and for our consolation, it shall be said that his will is right and just and good. “His will is our sanctification.” “It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.”
IV. THE RIGHT USE OF REASON IS TO GLORIFY GOD. It is the primary and pressing duty of every man to learn the proper use of his faculties. When we have reached years of discretion we should often ask ourselves, “What is God’s intention in giving me this understanding, this conscience, this reason?” Our plainest duty is to ascertain, if possible, his intention, and to follow that intention closely. To be self-consistent, we must either deny that he is our Master, and repudiate his every claim, or else we must acknowledge his authority over every part of our nature, and over every moment of our lives. A partial obedience is no obedience at all. This would be a setting up of self to be the judge when obedience should be rendered, and would be a virtual dethronement of God. Here hesitation or debate is excluded. If my reason be an endowment from God, I am bound, by every tie of obligation, to use it for his honour, and to magnify him therewith. Therefore the first principle of genuine religion is this: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.”—D.
Ezekiel, Daniel: Old Testament, Volume 12 4:28–31 Nebuchadnezzar Punished

4:28–31 Nebuchadnezzar Punished

THE KING’S FALL AND OUR CONSOLATION. MARTIN LUTHER: In the fourth chapter there is an excellent warning against oppressors and tyrants. There the great and mighty king, robbed of his reason, so raving and mad, that, like a rabid dog, he must be bound with chains and forced into the wilderness so that he might not cause harm to the people. Today, because we read it in a book, this seems to be a minor thing. However, if we should have been there and would have seen it, then we would have witnessed a dreadful and grisly judgment of God. So much so that certainly everyone would have had to have felt pity in his heart for all overlords and wicked tyrants, that such a cruel judgment awaits them if they abuse their power.

However, this also took place, again, as a comfort to the miserable and imprisoned Jews, and also for those who today and forevermore are plagued by tyrants or suffer injustice. This shows them that God is willing and able to take revenge on our enemies, even more than we would wish to desire, as Psalm 58 (v. 10) says, “The righteous person will witness vengeance with joy, and his path will be bathed in the blood of the godless.” Therefore, we should not merely patiently suffer such tyrants, but we should have compassion on them because of their future judgment, affectionately interceding for them, just as godly Daniel does here, saddened that the king (who indeed had captured Daniel’s people and destroyed their land) should experience such evil, wishing instead this judgment on Nebuchadnezzar’s enemies. PREFACE TO THE PROPHET DANIEL.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR PUNISHED OR THE DEVIL? JOHN MAYER: Lyra says that some will not have this to be literally understood, but mystically of the devil, who for his pride was the most abased of all others, yet shall hereafter be restored to his pristine glory of an angel of light again. And they argue against the literal understanding of this as Nebuchadnezzar for the following reasons. (1) Because he, retaining his human nature, could not go and live on grass as a beast so long a time; (2) Because being taken with such a disease, as was a kind of madness, they would doubtless rather have shut him up than driven him out into the fields, as is normally to be done to mad people; (3) Because the wild and savage beasts would, when he had come among them, have devoured him; (4) So large an empire would not have been so long without a king, and if another king had been set up, it is not probable that he would have given way to him to return to his throne again. But to believe that the devil shall be restored again to his first glorious condition of an angel of light is most contrary to the holy Scriptures, wherein it is said that hellfire is prepared for the devil and his angels and that it is everlasting, and the angels, who kept not their first standing he has reserved in everlasting chains of darkness.

Here are my responses to the objections. (1) No reason can be drawn from the common condition of a man to this man, having this judgment laid on him by the Almighty, who can sustain the life of a person without means as long as he pleases, as he did Moses forty days, and Elijah, and the children of Israel forty years in the barren wilderness. Moreover experience has taught in some, whose bodies have been distempered, that they have used coals and other things, wherein there is no nourishment, for most delectable food, and there is a history of a woman who ate and lived on spiders, and some on locusts. Therefore if God would have Nebuchadnezzar fed with grass, who is he that dares say it was not possible, and likewise on his hands and feet to go about as the beasts; (2) It is not to be doubted, but that when this judgment befell him, Daniel certified the nobles of this, persuading them rather to help put in execution what God had decreed than to hinder it; (3) The same God that appointed his restitution after this fastened the stump of this tree in the mean season, so that as it was not in the power of any creature to pull it up, for which it is said to be bound with bands of brass and iron. Moreover, it is observed in the ordinary course of nature that a mad dog will not bite a fool or a madman, to say nothing of the acquaintance that he got with the beasts by conversing among them, so that they took him going on all fours, and feeding as they did, to be a beast as they were, although in shape differing from them, as a monster among them; (4) It is said that Evil-merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, reigned a while in his stead in this time of his exile, but playing the tyrant was by his subjects shut up in prison, where Jehoiakin, the captive king of Judah, was, with whom he by this means got so good acquaintance that immediately after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, he, coming to the throne, lifted up his head and dealt so favorably with him, as is said (2 Kings 25). COMMENTARY UPON ALL THE PROPHETS.

GOD’S DELAYED PUNISHMENT. JOHN CALVIN: Some think Nebuchadnezzar to have been touched with penitence when instructed by God’s anger, and thus the time of his punishment was put off (Dan 4:29). This does not seem to me probable, and I rather incline to a different opinion, as God withdrew his hand till the end of the year, and thus the king’s pride was the less excusable. The prophet’s voice ought to have frightened him, just as if God had thundered and lightened from heaven. He now appears to have been always like himself. I indeed do not deny that he might be frightened by the first message, but I leave it doubtful. Whichever way it is, I do not think God spared him for a time because he gave some signs of repentance. I confess he sometimes indulges the reprobate, if he sees them humbled. An example of this, sufficiently remarkable, is displayed in King Ahab (1 Kings 21:29). He did not cordially repent, but God wished to show how much he was pleased with his penitence by pardoning a king impious and obstinate in his wickedness. The same might be said of Nebuchadnezzar, if Scripture had said so; but as far as we can gather from these words of the prophet, Nebuchadnezzar became prouder and prouder, until his sloth arrived at its height. The king continued to grow proud after God had threatened him so, and this was quite intolerable. Hence his remarkable stupidity, since he would have been equally careless had he lived a hundred years after he heard that threat! Finally, I think although Nebuchadnezzar perceived some dreadful and horrible punishment to be at hand, yet, while frightened for the time, he did not lay aside his pride and haughtiness of mind. Meanwhile, he might think this prediction to be in vain, and what he had heard probably escaped from his mind for a long time, because he thought he had escaped; just as the impious usually abuse God’s forbearance and thus heap up for themselves a treasure of severer vengeance, as Paul says (Rom 2:5). Hence he derided this prophecy and hardened himself more and more. COMMENTARIES ON DANIEL.

PENITENTIAL BENEVOLENCE. JOHANN WIGAND: At the end of twelve months (Dan 4:29). This time of penitence was permitted by God for Nebuchadnezzar. For God is long-suffering. As Paul says, “Do you not know that the kindness of God is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom 2:4). However, because he saw his punishment postponed and continued to succeed in all things, the king boasted in his glory and grew in his pride, security and impiety. BRIEF EXPOSITION OF THE PROPHET DANIEL.

4:32–33 Was Nebuchadnezzar an Actual Beast?

YOU SHALL EAT GRASS LIKE AN OX. JOHN CALVIN: Some think Nebuchadnezzar to have been changed into a beast; but this is too harsh and absurd. We need not fancy any change of nature, but he was cut off from all intercourse with people, and with the exception of a human form, he did not differ from the brutes; nay, such was his deformity in his exile that, as we shall afterwards see, he became a horrid spectacle. All the hairs of his body stood up and grew like eagles’ feathers; his claws were like those of birds. In these points he was like the beasts, in others like the rest of humankind. COMMENTARIES ON DANIEL.

EATING GRASS. JOHANN WIGAND: To eat grass (Dan 4:32). These things are to be understood according to the letter because genuine history is being recited. Even if humans are not naturally able to feed on grass as cattle, nevertheless in this punishment God so rules Nebuchadnezzar that he is able to digest it. They are dreaming who see some sort of metamorphosis, as if he had been changed into an ox. This sort of reading opposes the clear text. BRIEF EXPOSITION OF THE PROPHET DANIEL.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S PUNISHMENT. WILLIAM PEMBLE: Some have said that Nebuchadnezzar was metamorphosed into a very beast, but it is the truer opinion to say that his malady was in mind, not in body. God struck him with a kind of melancholy madness, insomuch that he lost all judgment, sense and use of reason; living and doing like a beast of the field. His life was a wild kind of life away from the communion of people. And they may as well say, he was turned into an eagle, because it is said that his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, as to affirm that he was changed into an ox, because he is said to eat grass like an ox. The conclusion would as well be that he was converted into oxen; because as our translator reads it according to the original, it is not said as an ox but as the oxen in the plural number. THE PERIOD OF THE PERSIAN MONARCHY.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S TRANSMUTATION. ANDREW WILLET: This then was the transmutation that Nebuchadnezzar had: his man’s shape remaining, his human soul was changed to be brutish by his frenzy and madness (Bullinger). Not that the mind of a beast was given him in substance, for he retained his reasonable soul. Nor yet that there was no more understanding in him left than in a brute beast (Osiander). For the reasonable soul remaining, though it became brutish, yet it is not altogether as the sense of a brute beast. But as Lyra says, he lost the use of reason by his madness. His mind became brutish.… He was somewhat altered and changed in the constitution and sight of his body, being grown misshapen and deformed, though not transformed into the shape of a beast.…

As his mind became brutish, so the constitution of his body was much changed and became adaptable to that brutish food by which he lived. He went naked having no care of his clothing, as brute beasts are only covered with their skin.… His food and meat was herbs and grass, such as the brute beasts feed on. His habitation was in the fields and woods among the brute beasts. He had no use of his speech living among beasts but made a rude noise like them. And thus he was changed even in respect of his body, that although the fashion of his human shape remained still in his head, hands and feet, yet he was become very deformed. SIXFOLD COMMENTARY UPON DANIEL.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S HUMILIATION. MENNO SIMONS: Therefore humble yourselves under the almighty hand of God, as Peter teaches (1 Pet 5), and take the prosperous, great king, Nebuchadnezzar, as an example (Dan 3; 4). Observe how grievously he was punished by God, on account of his pride, and how, after being punished, he turned his heart to wisdom and feared the Almighty. He praised his works and adorable name. A FOUNDATION AND PLAIN INSTRUCTION.

4:34–37 The King’s Confession

GENTILE BELIEVERS AND THE LAW. MARTIN LUTHER: So, even the wicked king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, is so strongly converted by Daniel’s sermon and God’s punishment that he allows a public sermon to be published under his name, ordering that everyone should believe that the God of Israel is the true God, because he is indeed the true God (Dan 4:34–36). See, this king became a believer in God and a righteous man, and without a doubt many others in his kingdom with him. Nevertheless he was not circumcised, and he was not bound by any of the laws of Moses. Daniel certainly would not have neglected to inform and apply the law to him, if he had not known that the law of Moses was imposed on the Jews alone and circumcision on Abraham alone, until the True Master, the Messiah comes forth from the house of Israel. AGAINST THE SABBATARIANS.

SEVEN YEARS LATER. JOHN CALVIN: The prophet again introduces King Nebuchadnezzar as the speaker. He says, then, After that time had elapsed, he raised his eyes to heaven (Dan 4:34). Without doubt, he means those seven years. As to his then beginning to raise his eyes to heaven, this shows how long it takes to cure pride, the disease under which he labored. For when any vital part of the body is corrupt and decaying, its cure is difficult and tedious; so also when pride exists in people’s hearts, and gains an entrance within the marrow and infects the inmost soul, it is not easily plucked out; and this is worthy of notice. Then we are taught how God by his word so operated on King Nebuchadnezzar as not immediately and openly to withdraw the effect of his grace. Nebuchadnezzar profited by being treated disgracefully during those seven years or times, and by being driven from the society of humankind; but he could not perceive this at once till God opened his eyes. So, therefore, God often chastises us, and invites us by degrees and prepares us for repentance, but his grace is not immediately acknowledged. COMMENTARIES ON DANIEL.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S TRUE REPENTANCE AND SALVATION. JOHN MAYER: At the end of these days my understanding returned to me, and I lifted up my eyes to heaven, thus I have translated it, not as the words lie, for his lifting up of his eyes is placed first, and then the returning of his understanding to him. So it is hysteron proteron, the last put first, for his understanding must first return to him, and then, and not before, he lifted up his eyes and blessed God. Since the heart of a beast cannot do this, it is hereby plain that the judgment laid unto him was in his mind and not in the transmutation of his body, as this bestial mind made him to go and do like a brute beast. From this relation of Nebuchadnezzar, we learn that man, who is as a tree flourishing by prosperity, is so fascinated hereby, that forgetting God he equalizes himself in his imagination to him, then as pride goes before a fall, God who is very vigilant to look to the swelling heart of such a man cuts him down by sickness or taking his worldly estate away from him, thus making him base and vile, and thus haply he lives and goes on either like a stupid beast a long time, not considering why God’s hand is so heavy on him, or murmuring against God. But in fine, if he belongs to God, he considers his former high thoughts and wickedness and repents, and is either lifted up again, as Nebuchadnezzar, and Job in this world, or in the world to come, although after this he be kept always low here. And then what does he do? Bless and praise God to the uttermost of his power, seeking also to make others by his speaking of his praises and wonderful things done for him, to acknowledge him to be the only true God, and therefore to fall to the magnifying of him also, and to living in all holy obedience to his will, to his glory.

And thus, as Lyra says, it is not to be doubted but Nebuchadnezzar after this proceeded to do to his dying day and so was saved. Whereas that which is spoken of him in Isaiah (Is 14:12–16) may seem to argue against this. He answers, no more is there said but what came to pass here, touching his cutting down to the ground and the debasing of him in this world for his pride, he being so left, as a wretched man, suffering still in his body after death. This Isaiah saw should come to him for his intolerable pride, but his final conversion was hidden from him and not revealed, until now in Daniel’s time. But forasmuch as after this testimony given of his serious repentance, nothing is more spoken of him, but this his history is concluded. It is to be held that whatever his life had formerly been was forgiven, and in the end he was received to mercy. No penitent sinner, who now turns to do the works of God, may despair of mercy, however foul his life has formerly been. COMMENTARY UPON ALL THE PROPHETS.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR ACKNOWLEDGES GOD. JOHN CALVIN: At the close of the edict, Nebuchadnezzar joins the ingenuous confession of his faults with the praises of God! What he says of the proud, he doubtless applies properly to himself; as if he had said, God wished to constitute me a remarkable monument of his method of humbling the proud for the instruction of all humankind. For I was inflated with pride, and God corrected this by so remarkable a punishment that my example ought to profit the world at large. Hence I said, King Nebuchadnezzar does not simply return thanks to God but at the same time confesses his fault, for though subdued with deserved harshness, yet his haughtiness could not be arrested by any lighter remedy. First of all he says, I praise, extol and glorify the king of heaven! This heaping together of words doubtless proceeded from vehement affection. At the same time a contrast must be understood, on the principle formerly mentioned; since God is never rightly praised unless the ignominy of people is detected, he is not properly extolled unless their loftiness is cast down; he is never glorified unless people are buried in shame and prostrate in the dust. Hence, while Nebuchadnezzar here praises, extols and glorifies God, he also confesses himself and all mortals to be nothing—as he did before—to deserve no praise but rather the utmost ignominy.…

Since therefore Nebuchadnezzar here confesses God to be just and true in all his works, without any exception, notwithstanding his own severe chastisements, this confession is not feigned; for he necessarily utters what he says from the lowest depths of his heart, through his having experienced the rigor of the divine judgment.

He now adds at last, He can humble those who walk in pride. Here Nebuchadnezzar more openly displays his own disgrace, for he is not ashamed to confess his fault before the whole world, because his punishment was known to everyone. As God then wished his folly to be universally detested, by making so horrible an example of him by his punishment, so Nebuchadnezzar now brings his own case forward and bears witness to the justice of the penalty, in consequence of his extreme pride. Here then we see God’s power joined with his justice, as we have previously mentioned. He does not attribute to God a tyranny free from all law; for as soon as Nebuchadnezzar had confessed all God’s ways to be just, he condemns himself of pride directly afterwards. Hence he does not hesitate to expose his disgrace before humankind, that God may be glorified. And this is the true method of praising God, not only by confessing ourselves to be as nothing but also by looking back on our failings. We ought not only to acknowledge ourselves inwardly guilty before him but also openly to testify the same before all humankind whenever it is necessary. COMMENTARIES ON DANIEL.

WAS NEBUCHADNEZZAR SAVED? ANDREW WILLET: It may be objected that he was not because of that place in Isaiah, You shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (Is 14:15), which, being spoken of Nebuchadnezzar shows his everlasting destruction in hell. And further that in him is set forth and described the fall of Lucifer, who with the rest of the reprobate angels were cast down to hell.

Answer: Though it is admitted and granted that Nebuchadnezzar here is a type of Lucifer, yet it is not necessary that all things that are expressed in such typical predictions should agree to the type. For some things are so spoken that they may fitly agree both to the type and figure, and to the thing prefigured, some to the sign only, some to the thing prefigured only. As in Psalm 2, where David is a type of Christ: The kings of the earth hand themselves, etc. (Ps 2:2) agrees to both and I have set my king on Zion (Ps 2:6). But these words, You are my son, this day have I begotten you (Ps 2:7), can only be applied to Christ. So in this place, this casting down to hell may be understood only of Lucifer here prefigured (Pererius). But there are better answers than this.

… It may be further and better answered that it is not necessary to understand this prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar but rather it was performed in Belshazzar. For the prophet [Isaiah] prophesied also together of the destruction of Babylon, which continued many years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar. And lastly the word translated hell signifies also the grave, and so better interpreted here, because there is mention made of the pit. Wherefore the more probable and certain opinion is that Nebuchadnezzar in the end was saved. SIXFOLD COMMENTARY UPON DANIEL.

GOD’S SECRET PROVIDENCE. JOHN CALVIN: It now follows: God does according to his pleasure in the army of the heavens, and among the dwellers on earth (Dan 4:35).… Since this is so, we should remember how extremely unbridled and perverse our rashness is, while we dare object to anything that God does; whence the necessity of this teaching that puts the bridle of modesty on us is proved, since God does all things according to his will, as it is said in Psalm 115:3, Our God in heaven does what he wishes. From this sentence we gather that nothing happens by chance, but every event in the world depends on God’s secret providence. We ought not to admit any distinction between God’s permission and his wish. For we see the Holy Spirit—the best master of language—here clearly expresses two things: first, what God does; and next, what he does by his own will. But permission, according to those vain speculators, differs from will, as if God unwillingly granted what he did not wish to happen! Now, there is nothing more ridiculous than to ascribe this weakness to God. Hence the efficacy of action is added; God does what he wishes, says Nebuchadnezzar. He does not speak in a carnal but in a spiritual sense, or instinct, as we have said; since the prophet must be attended to just as if he had been sent from heaven. Now, therefore, we understand how this world is administered by God’s secret providence and that nothing happens but what he has commanded and decreed; while he ought with justice to be esteemed the Author of all things.

Some object here to the apparent absurdity of saying God is the author of sin, if nothing is done without his will; nay, if he himself works it! This calumny is easily answered, as the method of God’s action differs materially from that of people. For when any person sins, God works in his own manner, which is very different indeed from that of people, since he exercises his own judgment and thus is said to blind and to harden. As God therefore commands both the reprobate and the evil one, he permits them to indulge in all kinds of licentiousness, and in doing so executes his own judgments. But he who sins is deservedly guilty and cannot implicate God as a companion of his wickedness. And why so? Because God has nothing in common with him in reference to sinfulness. Hence we see how these things that we may deem contrary to one another are mutually accordant, since God by his own will governs all events in the world and yet is not the author of sin. And why so? Because he treats Satan and all the wicked with the strict justice of a judge. We do not always see the process, but we must hold this principle with firmness—supreme power is in God’s hands; hence we must not cavil at his judgments, however inexplicable they may appear to us. COMMENTARIES ON DANIEL.

GOD ALMIGHTY. HANS DENCK: You, O God, know how to restore all things, for you are mighty and you have power over all human kingdoms. You give them to one in whom you delight, and you humble another so that he has to eat grass with the beasts of the field for seven years just like an ox, so that you might be known as he who has power over all lords and princes. REFLECTIONS ON MICAH.

Ezekiel, Daniel: Old Testament, Volume 12 4:28–31 Nebuchadnezzar Punished

4:28–31 Nebuchadnezzar Punished

THE KING’S FALL AND OUR CONSOLATION. MARTIN LUTHER: In the fourth chapter there is an excellent warning against oppressors and tyrants. There the great and mighty king, robbed of his reason, so raving and mad, that, like a rabid dog, he must be bound with chains and forced into the wilderness so that he might not cause harm to the people. Today, because we read it in a book, this seems to be a minor thing. However, if we should have been there and would have seen it, then we would have witnessed a dreadful and grisly judgment of God. So much so that certainly everyone would have had to have felt pity in his heart for all overlords and wicked tyrants, that such a cruel judgment awaits them if they abuse their power.

However, this also took place, again, as a comfort to the miserable and imprisoned Jews, and also for those who today and forevermore are plagued by tyrants or suffer injustice. This shows them that God is willing and able to take revenge on our enemies, even more than we would wish to desire, as Psalm 58 (v. 10) says, “The righteous person will witness vengeance with joy, and his path will be bathed in the blood of the godless.” Therefore, we should not merely patiently suffer such tyrants, but we should have compassion on them because of their future judgment, affectionately interceding for them, just as godly Daniel does here, saddened that the king (who indeed had captured Daniel’s people and destroyed their land) should experience such evil, wishing instead this judgment on Nebuchadnezzar’s enemies. PREFACE TO THE PROPHET DANIEL.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR PUNISHED OR THE DEVIL? JOHN MAYER: Lyra says that some will not have this to be literally understood, but mystically of the devil, who for his pride was the most abased of all others, yet shall hereafter be restored to his pristine glory of an angel of light again. And they argue against the literal understanding of this as Nebuchadnezzar for the following reasons. (1) Because he, retaining his human nature, could not go and live on grass as a beast so long a time; (2) Because being taken with such a disease, as was a kind of madness, they would doubtless rather have shut him up than driven him out into the fields, as is normally to be done to mad people; (3) Because the wild and savage beasts would, when he had come among them, have devoured him; (4) So large an empire would not have been so long without a king, and if another king had been set up, it is not probable that he would have given way to him to return to his throne again. But to believe that the devil shall be restored again to his first glorious condition of an angel of light is most contrary to the holy Scriptures, wherein it is said that hellfire is prepared for the devil and his angels and that it is everlasting, and the angels, who kept not their first standing he has reserved in everlasting chains of darkness.

Here are my responses to the objections. (1) No reason can be drawn from the common condition of a man to this man, having this judgment laid on him by the Almighty, who can sustain the life of a person without means as long as he pleases, as he did Moses forty days, and Elijah, and the children of Israel forty years in the barren wilderness. Moreover experience has taught in some, whose bodies have been distempered, that they have used coals and other things, wherein there is no nourishment, for most delectable food, and there is a history of a woman who ate and lived on spiders, and some on locusts. Therefore if God would have Nebuchadnezzar fed with grass, who is he that dares say it was not possible, and likewise on his hands and feet to go about as the beasts; (2) It is not to be doubted, but that when this judgment befell him, Daniel certified the nobles of this, persuading them rather to help put in execution what God had decreed than to hinder it; (3) The same God that appointed his restitution after this fastened the stump of this tree in the mean season, so that as it was not in the power of any creature to pull it up, for which it is said to be bound with bands of brass and iron. Moreover, it is observed in the ordinary course of nature that a mad dog will not bite a fool or a madman, to say nothing of the acquaintance that he got with the beasts by conversing among them, so that they took him going on all fours, and feeding as they did, to be a beast as they were, although in shape differing from them, as a monster among them; (4) It is said that Evil-merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, reigned a while in his stead in this time of his exile, but playing the tyrant was by his subjects shut up in prison, where Jehoiakin, the captive king of Judah, was, with whom he by this means got so good acquaintance that immediately after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, he, coming to the throne, lifted up his head and dealt so favorably with him, as is said (2 Kings 25). COMMENTARY UPON ALL THE PROPHETS.

GOD’S DELAYED PUNISHMENT. JOHN CALVIN: Some think Nebuchadnezzar to have been touched with penitence when instructed by God’s anger, and thus the time of his punishment was put off (Dan 4:29). This does not seem to me probable, and I rather incline to a different opinion, as God withdrew his hand till the end of the year, and thus the king’s pride was the less excusable. The prophet’s voice ought to have frightened him, just as if God had thundered and lightened from heaven. He now appears to have been always like himself. I indeed do not deny that he might be frightened by the first message, but I leave it doubtful. Whichever way it is, I do not think God spared him for a time because he gave some signs of repentance. I confess he sometimes indulges the reprobate, if he sees them humbled. An example of this, sufficiently remarkable, is displayed in King Ahab (1 Kings 21:29). He did not cordially repent, but God wished to show how much he was pleased with his penitence by pardoning a king impious and obstinate in his wickedness. The same might be said of Nebuchadnezzar, if Scripture had said so; but as far as we can gather from these words of the prophet, Nebuchadnezzar became prouder and prouder, until his sloth arrived at its height. The king continued to grow proud after God had threatened him so, and this was quite intolerable. Hence his remarkable stupidity, since he would have been equally careless had he lived a hundred years after he heard that threat! Finally, I think although Nebuchadnezzar perceived some dreadful and horrible punishment to be at hand, yet, while frightened for the time, he did not lay aside his pride and haughtiness of mind. Meanwhile, he might think this prediction to be in vain, and what he had heard probably escaped from his mind for a long time, because he thought he had escaped; just as the impious usually abuse God’s forbearance and thus heap up for themselves a treasure of severer vengeance, as Paul says (Rom 2:5). Hence he derided this prophecy and hardened himself more and more. COMMENTARIES ON DANIEL.

PENITENTIAL BENEVOLENCE. JOHANN WIGAND: At the end of twelve months (Dan 4:29). This time of penitence was permitted by God for Nebuchadnezzar. For God is long-suffering. As Paul says, “Do you not know that the kindness of God is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom 2:4). However, because he saw his punishment postponed and continued to succeed in all things, the king boasted in his glory and grew in his pride, security and impiety. BRIEF EXPOSITION OF THE PROPHET DANIEL.

4:32–33 Was Nebuchadnezzar an Actual Beast?

YOU SHALL EAT GRASS LIKE AN OX. JOHN CALVIN: Some think Nebuchadnezzar to have been changed into a beast; but this is too harsh and absurd. We need not fancy any change of nature, but he was cut off from all intercourse with people, and with the exception of a human form, he did not differ from the brutes; nay, such was his deformity in his exile that, as we shall afterwards see, he became a horrid spectacle. All the hairs of his body stood up and grew like eagles’ feathers; his claws were like those of birds. In these points he was like the beasts, in others like the rest of humankind. COMMENTARIES ON DANIEL.

EATING GRASS. JOHANN WIGAND: To eat grass (Dan 4:32). These things are to be understood according to the letter because genuine history is being recited. Even if humans are not naturally able to feed on grass as cattle, nevertheless in this punishment God so rules Nebuchadnezzar that he is able to digest it. They are dreaming who see some sort of metamorphosis, as if he had been changed into an ox. This sort of reading opposes the clear text. BRIEF EXPOSITION OF THE PROPHET DANIEL.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S PUNISHMENT. WILLIAM PEMBLE: Some have said that Nebuchadnezzar was metamorphosed into a very beast, but it is the truer opinion to say that his malady was in mind, not in body. God struck him with a kind of melancholy madness, insomuch that he lost all judgment, sense and use of reason; living and doing like a beast of the field. His life was a wild kind of life away from the communion of people. And they may as well say, he was turned into an eagle, because it is said that his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, as to affirm that he was changed into an ox, because he is said to eat grass like an ox. The conclusion would as well be that he was converted into oxen; because as our translator reads it according to the original, it is not said as an ox but as the oxen in the plural number. THE PERIOD OF THE PERSIAN MONARCHY.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S TRANSMUTATION. ANDREW WILLET: This then was the transmutation that Nebuchadnezzar had: his man’s shape remaining, his human soul was changed to be brutish by his frenzy and madness (Bullinger). Not that the mind of a beast was given him in substance, for he retained his reasonable soul. Nor yet that there was no more understanding in him left than in a brute beast (Osiander). For the reasonable soul remaining, though it became brutish, yet it is not altogether as the sense of a brute beast. But as Lyra says, he lost the use of reason by his madness. His mind became brutish.… He was somewhat altered and changed in the constitution and sight of his body, being grown misshapen and deformed, though not transformed into the shape of a beast.…

As his mind became brutish, so the constitution of his body was much changed and became adaptable to that brutish food by which he lived. He went naked having no care of his clothing, as brute beasts are only covered with their skin.… His food and meat was herbs and grass, such as the brute beasts feed on. His habitation was in the fields and woods among the brute beasts. He had no use of his speech living among beasts but made a rude noise like them. And thus he was changed even in respect of his body, that although the fashion of his human shape remained still in his head, hands and feet, yet he was become very deformed. SIXFOLD COMMENTARY UPON DANIEL.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S HUMILIATION. MENNO SIMONS: Therefore humble yourselves under the almighty hand of God, as Peter teaches (1 Pet 5), and take the prosperous, great king, Nebuchadnezzar, as an example (Dan 3; 4). Observe how grievously he was punished by God, on account of his pride, and how, after being punished, he turned his heart to wisdom and feared the Almighty. He praised his works and adorable name. A FOUNDATION AND PLAIN INSTRUCTION.

4:34–37 The King’s Confession

GENTILE BELIEVERS AND THE LAW. MARTIN LUTHER: So, even the wicked king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, is so strongly converted by Daniel’s sermon and God’s punishment that he allows a public sermon to be published under his name, ordering that everyone should believe that the God of Israel is the true God, because he is indeed the true God (Dan 4:34–36). See, this king became a believer in God and a righteous man, and without a doubt many others in his kingdom with him. Nevertheless he was not circumcised, and he was not bound by any of the laws of Moses. Daniel certainly would not have neglected to inform and apply the law to him, if he had not known that the law of Moses was imposed on the Jews alone and circumcision on Abraham alone, until the True Master, the Messiah comes forth from the house of Israel. AGAINST THE SABBATARIANS.

SEVEN YEARS LATER. JOHN CALVIN: The prophet again introduces King Nebuchadnezzar as the speaker. He says, then, After that time had elapsed, he raised his eyes to heaven (Dan 4:34). Without doubt, he means those seven years. As to his then beginning to raise his eyes to heaven, this shows how long it takes to cure pride, the disease under which he labored. For when any vital part of the body is corrupt and decaying, its cure is difficult and tedious; so also when pride exists in people’s hearts, and gains an entrance within the marrow and infects the inmost soul, it is not easily plucked out; and this is worthy of notice. Then we are taught how God by his word so operated on King Nebuchadnezzar as not immediately and openly to withdraw the effect of his grace. Nebuchadnezzar profited by being treated disgracefully during those seven years or times, and by being driven from the society of humankind; but he could not perceive this at once till God opened his eyes. So, therefore, God often chastises us, and invites us by degrees and prepares us for repentance, but his grace is not immediately acknowledged. COMMENTARIES ON DANIEL.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S TRUE REPENTANCE AND SALVATION. JOHN MAYER: At the end of these days my understanding returned to me, and I lifted up my eyes to heaven, thus I have translated it, not as the words lie, for his lifting up of his eyes is placed first, and then the returning of his understanding to him. So it is hysteron proteron, the last put first, for his understanding must first return to him, and then, and not before, he lifted up his eyes and blessed God. Since the heart of a beast cannot do this, it is hereby plain that the judgment laid unto him was in his mind and not in the transmutation of his body, as this bestial mind made him to go and do like a brute beast. From this relation of Nebuchadnezzar, we learn that man, who is as a tree flourishing by prosperity, is so fascinated hereby, that forgetting God he equalizes himself in his imagination to him, then as pride goes before a fall, God who is very vigilant to look to the swelling heart of such a man cuts him down by sickness or taking his worldly estate away from him, thus making him base and vile, and thus haply he lives and goes on either like a stupid beast a long time, not considering why God’s hand is so heavy on him, or murmuring against God. But in fine, if he belongs to God, he considers his former high thoughts and wickedness and repents, and is either lifted up again, as Nebuchadnezzar, and Job in this world, or in the world to come, although after this he be kept always low here. And then what does he do? Bless and praise God to the uttermost of his power, seeking also to make others by his speaking of his praises and wonderful things done for him, to acknowledge him to be the only true God, and therefore to fall to the magnifying of him also, and to living in all holy obedience to his will, to his glory.

And thus, as Lyra says, it is not to be doubted but Nebuchadnezzar after this proceeded to do to his dying day and so was saved. Whereas that which is spoken of him in Isaiah (Is 14:12–16) may seem to argue against this. He answers, no more is there said but what came to pass here, touching his cutting down to the ground and the debasing of him in this world for his pride, he being so left, as a wretched man, suffering still in his body after death. This Isaiah saw should come to him for his intolerable pride, but his final conversion was hidden from him and not revealed, until now in Daniel’s time. But forasmuch as after this testimony given of his serious repentance, nothing is more spoken of him, but this his history is concluded. It is to be held that whatever his life had formerly been was forgiven, and in the end he was received to mercy. No penitent sinner, who now turns to do the works of God, may despair of mercy, however foul his life has formerly been. COMMENTARY UPON ALL THE PROPHETS.

NEBUCHADNEZZAR ACKNOWLEDGES GOD. JOHN CALVIN: At the close of the edict, Nebuchadnezzar joins the ingenuous confession of his faults with the praises of God! What he says of the proud, he doubtless applies properly to himself; as if he had said, God wished to constitute me a remarkable monument of his method of humbling the proud for the instruction of all humankind. For I was inflated with pride, and God corrected this by so remarkable a punishment that my example ought to profit the world at large. Hence I said, King Nebuchadnezzar does not simply return thanks to God but at the same time confesses his fault, for though subdued with deserved harshness, yet his haughtiness could not be arrested by any lighter remedy. First of all he says, I praise, extol and glorify the king of heaven! This heaping together of words doubtless proceeded from vehement affection. At the same time a contrast must be understood, on the principle formerly mentioned; since God is never rightly praised unless the ignominy of people is detected, he is not properly extolled unless their loftiness is cast down; he is never glorified unless people are buried in shame and prostrate in the dust. Hence, while Nebuchadnezzar here praises, extols and glorifies God, he also confesses himself and all mortals to be nothing—as he did before—to deserve no praise but rather the utmost ignominy.…

Since therefore Nebuchadnezzar here confesses Go

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