There is not another chapter like that of Daniel 4 in the whole of the Bible. There are historical accounts throughout the bible, prophets who speak in the name of the Lord, men give their testimony as part of a historical narrative as in the book of Acts, and New Testament letters that include personal testimonies. But the 4th chapter of Daniel’s prophecy is written as though king Nebuchadnezzar is speaking directly to the reader.
“King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.” (Daniel 4:1, 2)
He then breaks out in praise to the Most High God (El Elyon in Hebrew), the possessor of heaven and earth, or the God who is everywhere present.
“How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures from generation to generation.” (Daniel 4:3)
He magnifies the God of the Bible, Daniel’s God, the one true God. There is a huge change from chapter 3 where Nebuchadnezzar could not see beyond his own greatness, to then go on to glorify God. His is an especially wonderful testimony of a heathen and Gentile king, who was brought back from the extremes of self exaltation and pride to a God glorifying humility. We can almost hear the words of our Lord, “I have not seen such great faith in all Israel” (Matthew 8:10). How did the king go from being such a dense person to a true worshiper of God?
When we first see him and after hearing about the coming destruction of his kingdom he built a great statue of himself so that he might be worshiped. A year passed from the time Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and received its interpretation from Daniel, so the dream itself was not the reason for his transformation. In fact, when the year came to an end Nebuchadnezzar considered how great he was, and he did this having seen the power of God to secure the lives of 3 men while in the midst of a burning fire so hot that it devoured the kings men who only came near to it. His heart was truly hard toward God.
Every effect has a cause, and there are always secondary and primary causes. In a work of art the secondary cause is the paint brush but the primary cause is the artist. In repentance the secondary cause can be a jail cell, a near death experience, the testimony of a friend, or all 3. King Nebuchadnezzar went mad for a season of 7 years. When the 7 years came to an end his reason returned to him and he became a true worshiper of the one true God. Make no mistake, the primary cause of Nebuchadnezzar’s repentance and faith was not his madness or recovery, but God’s grace.
A most interesting fact in (Daniel 4) is Nebuchadnezzar’s use of the words signs and wonders. A sign could be rendered miracle and wonder could be a miracle that causes wonder and amazement in the one that observes it. Certainly there could have been amazement on the king’s part by getting well after first losing his mind and living like an animal. However, his focus after repentance and faith, in his own words, was first to lift his eyes toward heaven in order to bless, praise, and honor the Most High, who lives forever. He became very aware of his own weakness like never before, but even more than that He recognized that God is everlasting. I have heard the testimony of many people over the last 40 years and many have given praise to God for blessings in their lives, but so few ever speak about God with a view of His greatness. Many focus on the goodness and centrality of men, but few have I heard say as Nebuchadnezzar did, “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,” His reason returned to him when He recognized the power, authority, and sovereignty of the Most High God.
Nothing gives greater evidence to the authenticity of a person’s conversion than the clarity with which he identifies his sins. So it is that chapter 4 concludes with Nebuchadnezzar’s words, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” If there is a greatest sin it would be the one that started it all. Lucifer, who was the greatest of all the angels, became Satan because of pride (Isaiah 14:12-16). The most prominent sign and wonder to which Nebuchadnezzar refers, though there are many, is that one that revealed his pride in the light of God’s greatness. There is no greater wonder than that of a proud sinner that is saved, and thereby humbled by the grace of God.