All this came on the king Nebuchadnezzar.…
Is not this great Babylon, that I have built? (ver. 30). in approaching the kernel of this remarkable history, many matters would have, by way of introduction, to be set in a true light. They would all fall under these three heads:
1. Confirmations of Bible history from the science of medicine.
2. From the probabilities of the case.
3. From secular history. (See Exposition above; and 'Daniel, Statesman and Prophet,' R.T.S., where they are given in full.)
I. THE TOOL. The very essence of sin is self-centredness, which ignores our relations with others and the attendant duties, and which blots out God. The atheism of selfishness may be only practical, but also speculative. When the latter, it is sure to be also the former. The idolater of self:
1. Confines his vision to the material. So with the king on the roof of his palace; his eye swept palace, city, land, but saw only the material magnificence. His heart was of the world, worldly.
2. Misjudges greatness. Not bulk, not material wealth, not splendid show, constitute a nation's greatness. The elements of greatness are ever moral. As with a nation, so with an individual. A nation may be small, and yet clothed upon with moral majesty. On the other side, a nation may be small (e.g. Monaco) and vile. The two things are not commensurate in any way - material size and grandeur of spirit. Some nations, i.e. constituents of nations, need to lay the lesson very much to heart.
3. Makes self the centre of the universe. Babylon was as the palace of the kingdom. The kingdom revolved around the capital, and all around the proud personality of the king.
4. ignores God. All below and around the man lies in light, but seen through the coloured and distorted medium of selfishness. All above is hidden by dense mist and cloud; as of ten, in mountain regions, the snow-clad pinnacles and the serenity of heaven are absolutely invisible. God is unseen, unrecognized. Note the sin of this in the king. We are too likely to think that where God's clearest revelation through Christ is not, no light is. We underrate the light of natural religion. God moves without witness. To the king testified nature, experience, reason, the inner light. Christ in all these (John 1:9).
II. ITS DETHRONEMENT. Self usurped the throne in the moral realm, in the heart and life of man, and so from that throne self was hurled as by a thunderbolt. Observe, the ruin of the doomed was:
1. Stayed. Did not come at once on the sin. But warning and counsel at the lips of Daniel. Then a year's delay. Opportunity' for penitence. Misused. The patience of God.
2. Sudden. "While the word," etc.; "The same hour," etc. (vers. 31-33). Whilst the king was adoring his own shadow, the phantom melted into vacancy. Striking picture of what oft occurs under the moral government of God - long respite - at length sudden and overwhelming calamity.
3. Utter. "The world recedes, it disappears," but no heaven opens on his eyes, no ears "with sounds seraphic ring." The world went; and down fell the self-idolater into a temporal hell. (Note all the particulars, in light of the text, illustrated by all we know of this form of insanity.)
4. Strictly related to the sin. As always. The deification of self and so the prostration of self. Occasion might well be taken to read off such lessons as these:
(1) The obligation of gratitude for reason - its gift and continuance.
(2) The duty of sympathy for the imbecile and insane. To be expressed practically, by prayer and contribution.
(3) That the causes of insanity can be demonstrated to be, in the vast majority of cases, moral; e.g. vanity, care in excess, alcohol, violent passion of any kind, specially the many and various breaches of the seventh commandment.
III. THE ENTHRONEMENT OF GOD. We may discourse on this by putting it in this way: we may mark the gradual steps of the return of God subjective to the throne in man. God objective - i.e. in his reality and power - is never off the throne. But he may be subjectively cast down in the thoughts and sentiments of men.
1. God remains in the mind, animating recognition. "Not even an extreme form of mania interferes with the consciousness of personal identity, of the soul's relation to God, and therefore does not abate the power to pray. Rather, perhaps, is it to be believed that in many cases the deepest and truest nature of man, his religious nature, is brought into high and brilliant relief" (see 'Daniel, Statesman and Prophet,' pp. 136, 137).
2. God recognized. "Lifted up mine eyes unto heaven. This is the recognition of God. The enthronement of God. The returning conscious recognition of God marks the advent of moral sanity.
3. Reason returns to the throne with God.
4. And with reason, an admirable twin. All that makes life worth living - conviction of the existence of God; of the everlastingness of his blessed rule; of the comparative insignificance of any man; of the universality of his empire; of the resistlessness of his might - that everything which God does is well done" (ver. 37); that "those that walk in pride he is able to abase;" - add to these convictions that there came back, with reason, brightness of outer life and the joy of fellowship with men. Note: Afflictions last till they have done their work - and then no longer. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.