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A King Humbled By The King of Heaven

Daniel 4:37 (ESV) … “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

Nebuchadnezzar certainly had an encounter with the living God in Daniel 4, and his praise seems sincere. Was this experience equivalent to salvation, or did it fall short of saving faith? Wood, Young, Luck, Rushdoony, and Walvoord believe that the king had a genuine salvation experience; but others, including Calvin, Keil, Pusey, and Archer, think that the king’s faith fell short. One cannot be dogmatic, but the language of the text suggests that Nebuchadnezzar did in fact have a saving encounter with the true God.

Although the moral of the story is found in v. 37, Porteous rightly comments that the “theme of this chapter is summed up in v. 25”: “The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men” (cf. v. 17). Towner observes: “Chapter 4 is a story about two sovereignties,” the might of the greatest of human kings, Nebuchadnezzar, versus the power of the Most High God. Of course, the king of Babylon was no match for the King of the universe. Throughout the book the absolute authority of Israel’s God is set forth. Such is the teaching of Scripture, a teaching that should comfort every believer today who casts a thoughtful glance upon a world in chaos and is tempted to fear. In these times the redeemed of God must look beyond the earthly scene to heaven and remember that God still reigns, and someday he will come and rule directly over the kingdoms of the earth.

God’s concern for persons in every part of the world may also be observed here. Even in pagan Babylon there was a witness—spiritual light—to the power and reality of Yahweh. Nebuchadnezzar and all his subjects were precious to the Lord and were granted a revelation capable of leading them to salvation (cf. 1 Tim 2:4). In this respect God did not wish such a horrible experience on the king—he gave Nebuchadnezzar a full year to repent. Nevertheless, out of God’s mercy and love the ordeal was permitted in order to bring the proud king to repentance. Though severe, in this case the punishment was necessary.[1]

[1] Miller, S. R. (1994). Daniel (Vol. 18, pp. 144–145). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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