The Redemption of Nebuchadnezzar

“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).

About a quarter of the book of Daniel focuses on Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon. He led the attack on Jerusalem, bringing many of its people back with him into captivity. Among the first wave of captives were Daniel and his three friends, whom we know as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These four demonstrated their dedication to God early on in their refusal to eat the king’s defiled food, opting instead for ritually clean vegetables and water. Their obedience resulted in being healthier than all the other young men around them, and they found favor in Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes. He elevated them to a high rank, eventually coming to trust Daniel above all his other wise men.

At first, Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t much interested in the God of his four Jewish servants. He recognized Him as a mighty Being, but he likely viewed Him as just one of many deities. As Daniel and his friends continued in Nebuchadnezzar’s service, however, the king began to see more and more of God’s power. He marveled as God gave Daniel insight into his own strange dream. He witnessed God rescue Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from a broiling furnace after their refusal to worship a statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Finally, he experienced God humbling him by taking away his senses and causing him to live as a wild animal for a period of time.

When Nebuchadnezzar returned to his senses after that ordeal, he no longer saw the God of Israel as just another deity. Instead, he declared Him to be the Most High God. He sent out a proclamation to all his people, telling of what God had done to him and for him. This man who had been so full of himself now humbled himself before the LORD, telling all of how great and awesome this mighty God is. He witnessed God’s works in the lives of those around him, and then he experienced God for himself. By the end of his life, how could he help but praise Him?

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