“the command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that heaven rules. therefore, your majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. it may be that then your prosperity will continue.” [daniel 4:26-27]
the God who gives not just second chances, but many
nebuchadnezzar has seen the power of God and to an extent has acknowledged it as greater than any other power, yet he still has not humbled himself to acknowledge that God is sovereign, not him. he has repeatedly shown his arrogance and self-adulation, and yet here, late in his life, God still gives him another chance. what a patient God we serve!
it is interesting that daniel advises the king to renounce his sin and be kind to the oppressed, that he might not be removed—when his dream is a clear indication that God has determined to remove nebuchadnezzar for a time. in this we see two things: first, that daniel knows that his God is one of mercy and steadfast love, and second that he is concerned for nebuchadnezzar.
in this advice, i am reminded of what david said after he prayed and fasted for days that God would save the son of his adultery, even after God told him his son would die. afterwards when asked why he behaved as he did, he said, “while the child was still alive, i fasted and wept, for i said, ‘who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ but now he is dead. why should i fast? can i bring him back again?” [1 samuel 12:22-23] david and daniel speak from a place of intimacy with the Lord—they know him, and know his steadfast love, so deeply that even when God tells them “no” they still intercede on others’ behalf.
how strange is it that daniel seems to care for nebuchadnezzar, the captor of his friends and his nation? this is a man who probably could not appeal to daniel in the flesh; the love daniel has for this man is a love that daniel is dependent on God for. what a strange God, who gave daniel a love for his captor; what a wondrous God, who extends his love to us, who deserve it no more than king nebuchadnezzar!
Lord, give us a love for you and others that surpasses understanding. we cannot love as you love; please help!
~ stephen hall