The same hour was the thing fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen…
This chapter, which is a rescript to all the provinces of his empire, was written by king Nebuchadnezzar. It is a frank, affecting, and instructive chapter of autobiography.
I. PRIDE WARNED. Success had crowned Nebuchadnezzar, and now he "was at rest in his house, flourishing (as a tree) in his palace." But "a dream which made him afraid" came to him. Astonished to silence stood Daniel before the king. He hears the dream, and he knows the meaning of it. Wonder, pity, sorrow, as for a friend, locked Daniel's lips in silence. At last he finds voice, and stammers out the wish that the strange impending doom had been for the king's enemies rather than for the king. The cry of the holy one, "Hew down the tree," was to find bitter fulfilment in the king's experience. Strange warning for the ear accustomed to flattery. Daniel is more than a court official. He will be faithful adviser of the man. He would have him escape the coming doom. The cause of the approaching calamity was not physical, but moral. "Break off thy sins by righteousness," etc. The Divine threatenings are conditional. If the sinner repent, punishment is averted. Nebuchadnezzar is warned. He has a year's grace. Let him use it well.
II. PRIDE EXULTANT. The king was warned in vain. The year of grace left him as it had found him. "His heart was lifted up," and his mind hardened in pride. As he walked on his palace roof, which overlooked Babylon, he cried, "Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" By his own might he has done it all. "God is not in all his thoughts." What of us? Pride is not confined to king's houses or bosoms. Of what are men not proud? Are we free from this sin? Let us question ourselves.
III. PRIDE BROKEN. A man, smitten with the melancholy madness known as lycanthropy, he imagined himself an animal, and that animal an ox. This form of insanity is still known to medical science. Insane upon one point, he may have been sane upon every other. With beast imagination, he may still have preserved his consciousness of personal identity. This strange double consciousness! He felt like an ox; he knew he was a man. And so, with beast-heart, he wandered an outcast from his glory. Till seven times (perhaps years) passed over him, he dwelt with beast-heart among the beasts, and then reason returned. He looked up — sign that it had returned. He praised the God he had forgotten. Humbled, he was humble. No proud boasting now. He makes his boast in the Lord. And what have we worth having that we have not received? Let us live in the constant recognition of God as the fountain of all our blessings, and so escape the ingratitude of pride. From this sin, as from every other, only One can save us. In the Almighty, the lowly Saviour, let us find our refuge. He can forgive us for the past. He can aid us to watchfulness for the future. He can — he waits — to aid us to resist this and every sin.
(G. T. Coster.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.
WEB: The same hour was the thing fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and ate grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the sky, until his hair was grown like eagles' [feathers], and his nails like birds' [claws].