Nebuchadnezzar’s Repentance

By Samuel Parish

“…for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,

and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

If you had to guess where to find these verses in the Bible, where do you think you would find them?

The Psalms?

One of the Old Testament Fathers?

A minor prophet?

Would it surprise you find out these words are the final confession of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4 (verses 34b-35)?

When we think of Nebuchadnezzar, it’s easy to see him only as the wicked, pagan king who tried to kill three Hebrew men who would not bow to his giant golden statue when the music played. We find great comfort that God saves his people from those who would stand against God and his commands, and are stirred to endure great hardship because of it. But what about the man who saw God intervene for his people, and still shook his fist at him in rebellion? Is the Book of Daniel just that God saves those who faithfully follow after him? Or is there something more?

In Chapter 4, Daniel warns the king that if his arrogance continues, God will bring him low. It is a gentle but firm warning to turn away from pride and toward righteousness. The king refuses and is driven from his kingdom until he comes to the end of himself and repents. In his repentance, God restores this pagan king to his throne and gives him greater wealth than before. This king who attacked and destroyed Jerusalem is given the chance to repent and there at the end of his life, he does.

May this be a word of hope for those of us who have spent our lives in rebellion against God. You are not so far gone that the spirit of God cannot bring change in your life. As we turn from our pride, and turn to righteousness we will see our lives restored to the beauty that God intended for each of us.