Today’s read of Daniel 4 contains the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling. This king of Babylon has come face to face with the power of the Most High God several times as he dealt with these Jewish exiles. He knows Daniel and his friends have a connection to “a” god, but he has not yet acknowledged that their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the only true and living God.
God gives him a strange dream, which Daniel interprets. A great and flourishing tree appears, providing shelter for the birds, abundant fruit for all, and beauty. A messenger comes down from heaven and says the tree is to be cut down, but the stump and roots preserved. This dream comes true – Nebuchadnezzar is the tree and God “cuts him down” for his pride in himself. The day it happens, Nebuchadnezzar is walking on the roof of his royal palace. He says to himself, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by MY mighty power and for the glory of MY majesty?” Immediately, as the words are still on his lips, a voice from heaven proclaims that he will be driven away from his people and eat grass like an animal for “seven times” (perhaps 7 years?). In other words, God strips him of his mental capacity. He loses his mind. He lives in the field, growing long hair like the feathers of an eagle and nails like the claws of a bird.
Oh how quickly God can bring us to our knees when our pride gets the best of us! Thankfully, this story had a great ending. At the end of it, Nebuchadnezzar repents and acknowledges God. God restored his kingdom and his mind because he repented.
Do you look at your life as something you’ve built by your own power and for your own glory? God includes this story in His word for a reason, a warning. He is well able to humble the prideful heart. May our prayer be what Nebuchadnezzar prayed at the end of his encounter with God:
“His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing, He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: ‘What have you done?'” (Daniel 4:35)