Proud King

Having subdued all the nations around him, Nebuchadnezzar busied himself in strengthening and adorning Babylon. The ruins of the tower of Belus still remain; and the hanging gardens, built to please his Median wife, were one of the most astonishing works of art, which the world has ever produced. They consisted of artificial mountains, on which forests waved, streams flowed, and cataracts leaped, in imitation of the queen's native land.

Even Nebuchadnezzar, with all his magnanimity of character, could not enjoy such unparalleled power and prosperity, without being puffed up by pride. So the Lord sent him a dream, in which he saw a great tree, reaching to heaven, visible from all parts of the earth, and affording sustenance and protection to all creatures. He heard a command from Heaven, saying, "Hew down the tree and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves and scatter his fruit; let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches;" etc.

It was in vain that Nebuchadnezzar called on the wise men of his kingdom for an interpretation of the dream. At last Daniel came in, and explained its meaning. Of the tree, he said, "It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong; for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth." Of the command to hew down the tree and cut off its branches, he said, "This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king: that they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."

Daniel accompanied his interpretation with the following advice: "Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility."

This excellent counsel, however, was not followed; for about a year after this, while walking in his palace, the king said, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?"

While these words were yet in the king's mouth, there was a voice heard from Heaven, saying, "O King Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from thee." 

That same hour Nebuchadnezzar became insane, and so remained for seven years, in fulfillment of the dream interpreted by Daniel.

During this long period the beasts were his companions, and like them he fed upon the grass of the field. Of the return of his reason he thus speaks: "And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation." 

This humiliation seems to have effectually subdued the haughty spirit of the great conqueror, The submissive tenderness of a chastened spirit is manifest in these words: "Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment; and those that walk in pride he is able to abase."