At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” (Daniel 4:29-32 ESV)
Pride and power have a way of making us feel invincible, especially when you have so many people willing to do anything to please you. Using power responsibly for social good is not a common tendency unless a man possesses a healthy fear of God. That was not the case for King Nebuchadnezzar even after witnessing the interpretation of his dreams and observing the divine protection of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abnego when he tried burning them in a fiery furnace. What he needed was an extreme spanking from God, and that is what he got.
King Nebuchadnezzar was humbled because he was too proud. Now we may think he rightly deserved this humiliation, but I also believe this was an act of grace. He served his purpose in bringing discipline upon the nation of Israel. And yet, God brought Israel to him so that he might get to know the LORD.
“Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws” (Daniel 4:33). He was stripped of his kingdom, home, and cognition. The LORD made him “eat grass like an ox” because that is what he needed to fully understand and acknowledge God as his Higher Authority.
The Bible says God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:8). Nebuchadnezzar experienced both, God’s opposition through discipline and his grace by restoration. The LORD was very patient with him and gave him the opportunity to repent. And when he did, this is what he said:
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).
Now that is a dramatic transformation!