Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment…
There, is in this dream much of that incongruity which is characteristic of dreams; yet the turn of the angel's words, whereby he indicated that the tree represented a man, and the moral purpose of the whole, as expressed in the concluding phrases, could not but impress the heart of Nebuchadnezzar; and even before he had received the interpretation from Daniel his conscience must have whispered that the tree was designed to represent himself. But his conscience only gave him a vague presentiment of its real meaning. When Daniel had interpreted the dream, he passed into the counsellor, and valuing the welfare of the monarch more than his good opinion for the moment, and fearing degradation for him more than the loss of favour for himself, he added these words, which are not more remarkable for the courtesy of their tone than for the sternness of their fidelity. "Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility." We do not know how this wise advice was received. For a full year things went on as before. But though God's retribution may come slowly, it comes surely, and ere long all that Daniel descried was realised. Much has been written by commentators in all ages on the illness of Nebuchadnezzar, but it is generally agreed that he became insane. The disease from which he suffered goes under the generic name, zoanthropia. After seven times had gone, the king lifted up his eyes to Heaven, and his understanding came to him gain, but came in a form more clear than before, for now he perceived that his greatness was not all his own. He discovered that he had nothing which he had not received, and he was disposed to give to the Most High God the glory of all he was, and all that he had done. With this recognition of the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise God, his reason came to him, and the glory of his kingdom and the honour and brightness of his court were restored. What did Nebuchadnezzar design by the publication of the decree in which these facts are here preserved? Did he mean to represent himself as having become an adherent of the Jewish faith? Probably, while acknowledging the supremacy of Jehovah as the Most High, he still clung to the worship and service of inferior divinities. His was but an imperfect conversion.
1. We have here a very solemn warning against pride and vainglory. With all his ability, Nebuchadnezzar had nothing which he had not received from God. Whoever plumes himself upon what he has done in the world, as if he were the author of it all, and not simply the instrument in the hand of God, is as really and truly proud and haughty as was Nebuchadnezzar here. The merchant who speaks of his business as the sole result of his ability, and calls himself, with supreme satisfaction, "the architect of his own fortunes"; the author who thinks of his book as the creation of his own genius; the statesman who looks upon his position as entirely self-made, the artisan who prides himself upon his foremanship; and the millionaire who, looking upon his glittering heaps, congratulates himself as the sole author of his gains — all alike are guilty of Nebuchadnezzar's sin; for they have shut God out of their hearts, and they have not given Him the acknowledgment and the honour to which He is entitled. Then let us be "clothed with humility," and, wherever we are, and whatever we have, let us acknowledge God.
2. An illustration of the proverb that "pride goeth before a fall." Sooner or later the spirit which I have been now exposing will bring punishment upon him who cherishes it, and the punishment will be of such a nature as to make the sinner see and know the heinousness of his sin.
3. A beautiful illustration of fidelity in the proclamation of God's truth. It cost Daniel a great deal to give this interpretation of the dream to the monarch. The king had been very. kind to him. But necessity was laid upon him, and faithfulness, alike to Jehovah and to Nebuchadnezzar, required that he should speak the whole truth. Hence he gave the interpretation with the utmost exactness; and then, in the most courteous manner, he advised the king to repentance.
4. A loud call to us to thank God for the continuance of our reason. How seldom we think of this!
5. We are here reminded that the Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men. God is the King of kings. This our comfort amid the movements of our times.
(W. M. Taylor, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.