And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven…
I. Consider THE DOCTRINAL INSTRUCTION here given to us.
1. We have here plainly stated the doctrine of the eternal self-existence of God. "I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever." "We," as a venerable Puritan observes, "have more of nothing than of being," but it is God's prerogative to be. He alone can say, "I am God, and beside me there is none else." He declares "I lift up my hand to heaven, and say I live for ever." He is the one only underived, self-existent, self-sustained Being. Let us know of a surety that the Lord God whom we worship is the only Being who necessarily and from His own nature exists. No other being could have been but for His sovereign will, nor could it continue were that will suspended. He is the only light of life, all others are reflections of His beams. There must be God, but there was no such necessity that there should be any other intelligences. God is independent — the only being who is so. We must find food with which to repair the daily wastes of the body; we are dependent upon light and heat, and innumerable external agencies, and above all and primarily dependent upon the outgoings of the Divine power towards us. But the I am is self-sufficient and all-sufficient. He was as glorious before He made the world as He is now; He was as great, as blessed, as Divine in all His attributes before sun and moon and stars leaped into existence as He is now and if He should blot all but as a man erases the writing of his pen, or as a potter breaks the vessel he has made, He would be none the less the supreme and ever-blessed God. Nothing of God's being is derived from another, but all that exists is derived from Him. God over liveth in this respect, that He undergoes no sort of change; all His creatures must from their constitution undergo more or less of mutation. That He lives for ever is the result, not only of His essential and necessary self-existence, of His independence, and of His unchangeableness, but of the fact that there is no conceivable force that can ever wound, injure, or destroy Him.
2. In our text we next find Nebuchadnezzar asserting the everlasting dominion of God. He saith, "Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation." The God whom we serve not only exists, but reigns. "The most high God, possessor of heaven and earth hath prepared his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all." As David said so also say we, "Thine, O Lord, Is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all." "The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever." The Lord is naturally the ruler of all, but who shall pretend to rule over Him? He is not to be judged of man's finite reason, for He doeth great things which we cannot comprehend. Events appear to fly at random like the dust in the whirlwind, but it is not so. The rule of the Omnipotent extends over all things at all times, Nothing is left to its own chance hap, but in wisdom all things are governed. Glory be unto the omnipresent and invisible Lord of all. This Divine kingdom appeared very plainly to the once proud monarch of Babylon to be an everlasting one. The reign of the Everliving extends as other kingdoms cannot, "from generation to generation." The mightiest' king inherits power and soon yields his sceptre to his successor; the Lord hath no beginning of days nor end of years; predecessor or successor are words inapplicable to Him. Other monarchies stand while their power is unsubdued, but in an evil hour a greater power may crush them down. There is no greater power than God; yea, there is no other power but that which proceeds from God, for "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God"; hence His monarchy cannot be subdued, and must be everlasting. All the elements of His kingdom are most conservative, because radically right. Oh, happy subjects, who have such a throne to look to! Oh, blessed children, who have such a King to be your Father!
3. Nebuchadnezzar, humbled before God, uses, in the third place, extraordinary language with regard to the nothingness of mankind. "All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing." This is Nebuchadnezzar, but his words are confirmed by Isaiah, "Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket," the unnoticed drop which remains in the bucket after it has been emptied into the trough, or the drip which falls from it as it is uplifted from the well, a thing too inconsiderable to be worthy of notice. "And are counted as the small dust of the balance"; as the dust which falls upon scales, but is not sufficient to affect the balance in any degree whatever. "Behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing." Whole archipelagos He uplifts as unconsidered trifles; This triple kingdom of ours He reckons not only to be little, but "a very little thing." Of what account at this day are all the antediluvian millions? What are the hosts of Nimrod, of Shishak, of Sennacherib, of Cyrus? What recks the world of the myriads who followed the march of Nebuchadnezzar, who obeyed the beck of Cyrus, who passed away before the eyes of Xerxes? The nations are nothing in comparison with God. As you may place as many ciphers as you like together, and they all make nothing, so you may add up as many men, with all their, supposed force and wisdom, as you please, and they are all nothing in comparison with God. He is the unit. He stands for all in an, and comprehendeth all; and all the rest are but so many valueless ciphers till His unity makes them of account. We shall, when we get to Heaven, make it part of our adoration to confess that we are less than nothing and vanity, but that God is all in all; therefore shall we cast our crown at His feet, and give Him all the praise for ever and ever. Herein is His greatness, that it comprehends all littlenesses without a strain; the glory of His wisdom is as astonishing as the majesty of His power, and the splendours of His love and of His grace are as amazing as the terror of His sovereignty. He may do what He wills, for none can stay him; but He never wills to do in any case aught that is unjust, unholy, unmerciful, or in anyway inconsistent with the perfection of His matchless character. We turn now to the next sentence, which reveals the Divine power at work sovereignly. "He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth." This is easy to understand in reference to the celestial host, for we know that God's will is done in Heaven; we devoutly pray that it may yet be done on earth after the same fashion. The angels find it their heaven to be obedient to the God of Heaven. If God does not rule everywhere, then something rules where He does not, and so He is not omnipresently supreme. If God does not have His will, someone else does, and so far that someone is a rival to God. I dare not believe even sin itself to be exempted from the control of Providence, or from the overruling dominion of the Judge of all the earth. Let us now consider the fifth part of the text — "None can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" I gather from this that God's fiat is irresistible and unimpeachable. We are told by some annotators that the original has in it an allusion to a blow given to a child's hand to make him cease from some forbidden action. None can treat the Lord in that manner. None can hinder Him, or cause Him to pause. He has might to do what He wills. So also says Isaiah: "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?" Man is powerless, then, to resist the flat of God. Usually he dues not know God's design, although he blunderingly thinks he does; often in opposing that apparent design he fulfils the secret design of God against his will.
II. Now consider its PRACTICAL INSTRUCTION.
1. I think the first lesson is, how wise to be at one with Him!
2. How encouraging this is to those who are at one with God! If He be on our side, who shall be against us? "The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge."
3. How joyful this thought ought to be to all holy workers!
4. How this should help you that suffer! If God does it all, and nothing happens apart from God, even the wickedness and cruelty of man being still over-ruled by Him, you readily may submit.
II. What is THE RIGHT SPIRIT in which to contemplate all this?
1. The first is humble adoration. We do not worship enough. Worship Him with lowliest reverence, for you are nothing, and He is all in all.
2. Next let the spirit of your hearts be that of unquestioning acquiescence. He wills it! I will do it or I will bear it. God help you to live in perfect resignation.
3. Next to that, exercise the spirit of reverent love.
4. Lastly, let our spirit be that of profound delight. I believe there is no doctrine to the advanced Christian which contains such a deep sea of delight as this. The Lord reigns!
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
WEB: All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or ask him, What are you doing?