Nebuchadnezzar the king, to all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied to you.…
How changed the spirit and deportment of Nebuchadnezzar from what they were on the plains of Dura. Then, we saw him exulting in the pride of power, and girt with the terrors of tyranny. Then, we saw him in a passion, hot as the furnace he had kindled. Now, nothing but thoughts of peace are in his heart, and the law of kindness is on his tongue. Then, we saw him erecting an image to his idol. Now, we are called upon to listen while he extols and praises the God of Heaven. In early life, when the habits are young, the spirits buoyant, the mind elastic and versatile, a change of character is comparatively easy, and of frequent occurrence. But after a man has passed the middle stage of life, as Nebuchadnezzar had now done, changes are so difficult, and so rare, that we are accustomed to consider his character as fixed. Changes effected upon it, afterwards, even when produced by Divine grace, are very marvellous. To change the character in youth is like altering the channel of a river. To change it in old age is like turning the waters of a river backwards, and making them run upwards, to their source, when they were about to be emptied into the sea. Whether Nebuchadnezzar was truly converted unto God is a question that may afterwards come in our way. Without making any assertion on that head, for the present, it is quite apparent that his character is not only greatly altered, but much improved. The occasion of this change in the character of Nebuchadnezzar was a very remarkable dispensation of the Almighty. He was degraded from his throne, and deprived of his reason, and driven from the dwellings of men, and dwelt amid the cattle in the field. This discipline was severe, but it was salutary. He learned more among the beasts than ever he had learned among men. Is it not a wonderful instance of Divine grace to see the man who had spent so much of his time in war become the advocate, the apostle, the dispenser of peace! The design of this proclamation was to make publicly known the wonderful dealings of God towards himself. Many persons have recorded the more remarkable passages of their history, from a love of fame, from a desire to be spoken of while they are living, and to be remembered after they are dead. No such motive could possibly actuate Nebuchadnezzar. The occurrence, which he was about to relate, was one of the most humbling nature. That which incited Nebuchadnezzar to make his proclamation was a hope that it might be productive of good. "I thought it good to show the signs and the wonders which the high God hath wrought toward me." It was good for the Divine glory. It showed the greatness of Jehovah, that there was none like him among the sons of the mighty, when he could thus abase the greatest and the haughtiest man upon the earth. It was good for the warning and instruction of mankind. It cried aloud to all transgressors, "Fear and sin not; for if such things be done in the green tree, what will be done in the day." When this haughty spirit, this son of pride, was thus brought down, it cried aloud to all, "Be clothed with humility." Thin proclamation is addressed "to all people, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth." We are not to suppose, from this, that Nebuchadnezzar still aspired to universal dominion over his fellow-creatures. There is reason to think that such ambitious thoughts were now dead within him. The proclamation is addressed to all nations, because he considered that a knowledge of the remarkable dispensations of the Most High towards himself might be of universal benefit. To publish this showed an excellent spirit in Nebuchadnezzar — a spirit more concerned for God's glory than his own — more anxious about the welfare of his subjects than about his own reputation. It is easy to proclaim our own excellencies, but, surely, God must touch the heart before we are willing to promote His glory at the expense of our own. When his reason was restored, and he considered the whole way in which God had dealt with him, Nebuchadnezzar is filled with astonishment. "How great are His signs, and how mighty are His wonders!" Nebuchadnezzar had now reigned about forty years. During that period he had journeyed far, and seen much of the Divine doings. On the plains of Dora he had seen a noble testimony lifted up for God. He then, also, saw a visible manifestation of God, and witnessed a very wonderful miracle performed in behalf of the faithful witnesses for His glory. We might have supposed that the evidence afforded by such a manifestation, and such a miracle, was sufficient to have carried conviction to every rational mind. It must, however, be remarked that it is not from want of evidence in support of religion that any continue in unbelief; and it is not by evidence alone that any man can be truly converted unto God. The evidence in behalf of religion is of a moral nature, for the practical reception of which there is requisite a certain moral condition of mind, and where this is awanting, evidence, however powerful, will have no more effect in softening the heart than sunshine has upon a rock. Accordingly, Nebuchadnezzar saw all these miracles of Divine power and wisdom, and received from them only slight and transient impressions. But now, like one who had been all his days blind, and got his eyes opened behold the glory of the Lord, he cries out in astonishment, "How great are His signs, and how mighty are His wonders!" Jehovah is not only glorious in holiness, and fearful in praises, He is a God "ever doing wonders." To a finite mind His works as Creator must, of necessity, appear marvellous, because of the incomprehensible power and wisdom with which they are all stamped. Every man who is truly converted will be filled with wonder at the doings of the Lord. He will see His loving kindness to be a "wonderful loving kindness," and His condescension to be infinite. And it is one sign of being benefited by the dispensations of Providence when we are led to wonder, and admire, and adore the hand of God. There may be nothing in our history so extraordinary as there was in that of Nebuchadnezzar. But in the life of the humblest individual, in his life who has fewest vicissitudes, there will appear, when it is seriously considered, evidences of Divine care, wisdom, power, long-suffering, sufficient to constrain him to cry out, "O how great are His signs, and how mighty are His wonders!" How often has He disappointed our fears! How often has He exceeded our hopes! If Nebuchadnezzar, on discovering the meaning of one small act of Providence, was filled with such astonishment, how high will their admiration rise, how rich will be their satisfaction, how profound their reverence, who shall have the whole plan of the universe unfolded to their consideration! If he on earth, will not they much more in Heaven sing, "O how great are His signs, and how mighty are His wonders!" God had done much for Nebuchadnezzar. He had raised him to the highest place on earth — He had made him a king of kings — had given success to his counsels, victory to his arms, and bestowed on him every temporal blessing which a mortal could possess. In the day of prosperity God is too generally overlooked. Such was the effect of prosperity on Nebuchadnezzar. He felt and spake as if he were omnipotent, as if there was no power in the universe above his own, as if he were a god of gods, as well as a king of kings. But behold and adore the power of Jehovah! In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, He makes this proud and presumptuous creature, who feels himself more than a god, less than the meanest of his subjects, less than a man — He makes him a companion of the beasts of the field, and continues him in that situation for seven years. Behold and adore the sovereignty of Divine grace, in sanctifying this affliction! Many who never praised God for their prosperity have praised Him for their adversity, have thanked and adored Him that ever they were afflicted. This was the case with Nebuchadnezzar. He who never praised God for raising him to the throne, adores and magnifies His name for driving him from the dwellings of men. Joyous chastisement! Blessed degradation! Blessed the eclipse of reason to him! By being deprived of his reason, he was taught the right use of his reason. The minions that dwelt in Nebuchadnezzar's court had never approached him without saying, "O king, live for ever." Accustomed to the perpetual incense of their flattery, it is probable that he forgot his mortality, he forgot that changes might come — that changes would come. Now, however, he sees that God is the only monarch who shall live for ever, and His kingdom the only one that shall never be subverted by the storms of time. "His kingdom," says he, "is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion from generation to generation." Change and vicissitude reach not the throne of the Creator. "His kingdom shall for ever stand, His throne through all ages." The life of Nebuchadnezzar had been prosperous from its commencement, but his prosperity never appeared to be so complete as it was immediately before the terrible calamity of which we have an account in this chapter. His wealth is immense — his power is unbounded — all his enemies are conquered, all his provinces are submissive. Crowned with victory, the veteran warrior was at rest in his house, and flourished in his palace. But a more than ordinary share of prosperity is often followed by some great disaster. The time of their greatest prosperity is often the period which God selects for punishing the proud and lofty ones of the earth.
Parallel VersesKJV: Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.