Daniel 4:25

25. 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.

25. Et to expellent ab hominibus, et cum bestiis agrestibus erit habitatio tua: et herba sicut boves to pascent, et rote coelorum to irrigabunt: et septem tempora transibunt super re, donec cognoseas, quod dominator sit excelsus in regno hominum, et eui voluerit det illud.


Daniel proceeds with the explanation of the king's dream, to whom the last verse which I explained yesterday applies. This ought to be expressed, because this message was sorrowful and bitter for the king. We know how indignantly kings are usually compelled not only to submit to orders, but even to be cited before God's tribunal, where they must be overwhelmed in shame and disgrace. For we know how prosperity intoxicates the plebeian race. What, then, can happen to kings except forgetfulness of the condition of our nature when they attempt to free themselves from all inconvenience and trouble? For they do not consider themselves subject to the common necessities of mankind. As, therefore, Nebuchadnezzar could scarcely bear this message, here the Prophet admonishes him in a few words concerning the cutting down of the tree as the figure of that ruin which hung over him. He now follows this up at length, when he says, They shall cast thee out from among men, and thy habitation shall be with the beasts of the field. When Daniel had previously discoursed upon the Four Monarchies, there is no doubt about the king's mind being at first exasperated; but this was far more severe, and in the king's opinion far less tolerable, as he is compared to wild beasts, and cut off from the number of mankind, and then he was driven into the fields and woods to feed with the wild beasts. If Daniel had only said the king was to be despoiled of his royal dignity, he would have been greatly offended by that disgrace, but when he was subject to such extreme shame, he was, doubtless, inwardly maddened by it. But God still restrained his fury lest he should desire to be revenged upon the supposed injury which he suffered. For we shall afterwards see from the context that he did not grow wise again. Since, therefore, he always cherished the same pride, there is no doubt of his cruelty, for these two vices were united; but the Lord restrained his madness, and spared his holy Prophet. Meanwhile, the constancy of God's servant is worthy of observation, as he does not obliquely hint at what should happen to the king, but relates clearly and at length how base and disgraceful a condition remained for him. They shall cast thee out, says he, from among men. If he had said, thou shalt be as it were one of the common herd, and shalt not differ from the very dregs of the people, this would have been. very severe. But when the king is ejected from the society of mankind, so that not a single corner remains, and he is not allowed to spend his life among ox-herds and swineherds, every one may judge for himself how odious this would be; nor does Daniel here hesitate to pronounce such a judgment.

The following clause has the same or at least similar weight, -- Thy dwelling, says he, shall be with the beasts of the field, and its herb shall feed thee. The plural number is used indefinitely in the original; and hence it may be properly translated, "Thou shalt feed on grass; thou shalt be watered by the dew of heaven; thy dwelling shall be with wild beasts." I do not wish to philosophize with subtlety, as some do, who understand angels. I confess this to be true; but the Prophet simply teaches punishment to be at hand for the king of Babylon, while he should be reduced to extreme ignominy, and differ in nothing from the brutes. This liberty, therefore, as I have said, is worthy of notice, to shew us how God's servants, who have to discharge the duty of teaching, cannot faithfully act their part unless they shut their eyes and despise all worldly grandeur. Hence, by the example of the king, let us learn our duty, and not be stubborn and perverse when God threatens us. Although, as we have said, Nebuchadnezzar did not grow wise, as the context will shew us, yet we shall see how he bore the terrible judgment denounced against him. If, therefore, we, who are but as refuse compared to him, cannot bear God's threats when they are set before us,-he will be our witness and judge, who, though possessed of such mighty power, dared nothing against the Prophet. Now, at the end of the verse, the sentence formerly explained is repeated, -- Until thou dost acknowledge, says he, how great a Lord there is in the kingdom of men, who delivers it to whomsoever he will. This passage teaches us again how difficult it is for us to attribute supreme power to God. In our language, indeed, we are great heralds of God's glory, but still every one restricts his power, either by usurping something to himself, or by transferring it to some one else. Especially when God raises us to any degree of dignity, we forget ourselves to be men, and snatch away God's honor from him, and desire to substitute ourselves for him. This disease is cured with difficulty, and the punishment which God inflicted on the king of Babylon is an example to us. A slight chastisement would have been sufficient unless this madness had been deeply seated in his bowels and marrow, since men claim to themselves the peculiar property of God. Hence they have need of a violent medicine to learn modesty and humility. In these days, monarchs, in their titles, always put forward themselves as kings, generals, and counts, by the grace of God; but how many falsely pretend to apply God's name to themselves, for the purpose of securing the supreme power! For what is the meaning of that title of kings and princes -- "by the grace of God?" except to avoid the acknowledgment of a superior. Meanwhile, they willingly trample upon that God with whose shield they protect themselves, -- so far are they from seriously thinking themselves to reign by his permission! It is mere pretense, therefore, to boast that they reign through God's favor. Since this is so, we may easily judge how proudly profane kings despise God, even though they make no fallacious use of his name, as those triflers who openly fawn upon him, and thus profane the name of his grace! It now follows: