Verse of the Day Devotion. Daniel 4:37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.
This VOTD is a bit longer than most, but necessary to understand what it means. This verse is the conclusion of the story of Nebuchadnezzar. Up to this vision he pretty much did whatever he wanted. He raided and conquered countries and kingdoms, including Israel, Egypt, and various others. He created a false god and required everyone to worship it and the other gods of Babylon upon penalty of death. He was considered the most powerful king who had reigned in Babylon, and by many the most powerful in all history. He was also devout regarding the gods of Babylon and served them as expected. However, the true God had another plan for him. He used Nebuchadnezzar to give a public proclamation to all the people. And it begins and ends with him acknowledging God, Jehovah, as the true God of all heaven and earth.
He starts this proclamation by giving praise to God. “Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: May your peace abound! It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. How great are His signs, And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:1-3. He wants to declare before he gets to his story that the Most High God is greater than anyone or anything that exists. This shows how effective it was in turning his eyes and heart to the true God. Then the story starts. “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace. I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.” Daniel 4:4-5. This vision troubled him, so he called for all the wise men to come and tell him what it meant. But as before, they did not know. “So I gave orders to bring into my presence all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the conjurers, the Chaldeans, and the diviners came in, and I related the dream to them; but they could not make its interpretation known to me.” Daniel 4:6-7.
Then Daniel comes in and he tells him the dream. “Now these were the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed: I was looking, and behold, there was a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew large and became strong, And its height reached to the sky, And it was visible to the end of the whole earth. Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, And all living creatures fed themselves from it. I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven. He shouted out and spoke as follows: “Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit; Let the beasts flee from under it, And the birds from its branches. Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, But with a band of iron and bronze around it In the new grass of the field; And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man, And let a beast’s mind be given to him, And let seven periods of time pass over him. This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers, And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes, And sets over it the lowliest of men. This is the dream which I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, tell me its interpretation, inasmuch as none of the wise men of my kingdom is able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.” Daniel 4:9-18.
Now Daniel was appalled by what he heard, and this was seen by the king. But the king told him not to be alarmed. Then Daniel responded, “My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries!” Daniel 4:19b. Daniel was not perplexed, he heard from God what it meant, and it was nowhere near what he expected. He starts by explaining what he saw. “The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth, and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged; it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth. And in that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him.” Daniel 4:20-23. Daniel has told the king the dream’s interpretation, but that God had also declared a decree upon him. “that you be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes. And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.” Daniel 4:25-26. Daniel then advises the king “Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27.
Now unfortunately, he did not take Daniel’s advice. “All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’ While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.” Daniel 4:28-31. While the king was still bragging about himself, a voice from heaven pronounced judgment upon him. Evidently this was an audible announcement, at least to the king. The voice, probably of an angel, declared that heaven had decreed his judgment. It was as good as done. Nebuchadnezzar would live with the wild animals and eat grass like the cattle for seven periods, probably seven years, until he finally repented of his pride and gave glory to God. And immediately the sentence was carried out.
Then after a long period, his punishment was over when he raise his eyes toward heaven. “But at the end of that period I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, What hast Thou done?” Daniel 4:34-35. When God brought him back to normal, he praise God and gave all glory to Him. And he ended with the following. “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” Daniel 4:37. And he was referring to himself as an example of someone walking in their pride regarding themselves.
Nebuchadnezzar definitely had an encounter with God, and his praise appeared sincere. This brings up the question, was this experience equivalent to salvation or did it fall short of saving faith? I believe that the king had a genuine salvation experience; but many others think the king’s faith fell short. We cannot be completely sure, but the language of the text suggests that Nebuchadnezzar did in fact have a saving encounter with the true God. I believe, because of his encounter with Daniel and the other three young men, he saw reality regarding their God, and God carried it out by bringing his belief to completion. Anyone who comes to God will not be pushed away. And as Daniel, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego lived out their faith and helped convince Nebuchadnezzar regarding the truth, we may be able to do the same by simply living the Christian life as it should be. Remember, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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