Despite the oft-repeated warnings against pride, every generation have men who become proud and arrogant, only to fall into misfortune and defeat (Proverbs 16: 19; 11:2; 17:19; 18:12). Those who maintain their pride and position throughout life will be forced into humble acknowledgement of God in the judgment. For “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Nebuchadnezzar was such a man.
God’s Warning Against Pride
The Lord warned Nebuchadnezzar in a dream that he should repent of his sins. The king saw the Most High giving an order to chop down the branches of a great tree that represented him but leave the stump and roots in the earth. And God added, “Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him” (Daniel 4:14-16). This judgement would come that “the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17).
The king was astonished about the meaning of the dream and his thoughts troubled him. But none of His wise men or magicians could give him the interpretation of the dream. But the prophet Daniel under the inspiration of God interpreted the dream saying, “They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4:25).
And, Daniel advised the king saying, “Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity” (Daniel 4:27). The king was admonished to practice fair judgement to the people exercise mercy for the oppressed, the misfortunate, and the poor (Micah 6:8). The Lord gave the king a full year to repent in order to prevent the threatened disaster (Daniel 4:29). However, the king did not mend his way, and accordingly brought upon himself God’s punishment.
One day, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he boasted saying, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4: 30). This proud words were immediately followed by his humiliation.
While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4:30-32).
That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar. For he was afflicted with madness and “was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws” (Daniel 4:28-33).
Humility and Restoration
At the end of the seven years, predicted for the continuation of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness (Daniel 4:16), the humbled king prayed repentantly and looked up to heaven. Then, his mind returned to him and his madness was gone and he blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever (Daniel 4:34). So, he was elevated from the condition of a beast to that of a human being bearing the image of God.
After this sad experience, his first desire was to praise God as the eternal One, and to acknowledge the greatness of His authority. And he declared, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37).
In His service,