Okay, full disclosure. I am memorizing this passage for two reasons:
First, Francis Chan preached on it once, and it totally struck me.
Second, Nebuchadnezzar basically becomes a werewolf, which is pretty awesome (please note my embelishment here, I don’t actually think he became a wolfman).
In all seriousness, this is a very compelling and interesting passage of Scripture. Earlier in the chapter, the mighty rule of immense kingdom of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, had a dream, and the prophet Daniel interpreted it. The dream was of a great tree, cut to its stump then bound; the interpretation is that the tree is Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel pleads with Nebuchadnezzar to turn from his pride and oppressive, selfish ways before God carries this judgment against him, lowering Nebuchadezzar’s stature and power. Daniel’s belief that the vision’s fulfillment is both imminent and dreadful in its fulness is evident when reading the text, and after his exhortations to Nebuchadnezzar, the text reads as follows:
All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months, the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty hand as a royal residence for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still on the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven. “O Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be made among the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and he gives it to whom he will.”
Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.
At the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to 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;
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing.
And he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;
And none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and my splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 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.
I love Nebuchanezzar’s turn here…because I am Nebuchadnezzar. Or an echo of him anyway. Are not we all? Do we not look over our lives and take great pride in the little kingdoms that we have established for ourselves–the friends, the money, the homes, the cars. Do we not think we “built them” by “our mighty hands”. How foolish we are to think such a thing. Like that great king of old we too must acknowledge the hands of the Most High, who grants to men what he will. He gives and takes away, and he wrongs no one. May we never forget it. May none of us ever need to undergo so great a humbling as Nebuchadnezzar. I know I have been humbled time and time again, may I never need it to such a degree as this once great king, especially having memorized these verses.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.