37. 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.
37. Nunc ego Nebuchadnezer laudo, et extollo, et glorifico Regem coelorum: quia omnia opera ejus veritas, et viae ejus judicium: et eos qui ambulant in superbia potest humiliare. 1
At the close of the edict, Nebuchadnezzar joins the ingenuous confession of his faults with the praises of God! What he says of the proud, he doubtless applies properly to himself; as if he had said, God wished to constitute me a remarkable monument of his method of humbling the proud for the instruction of all mankind. For I was inflated with pride, and God corrected this by so remarkable a punishment, that my example ought to profit the world at large. Hence I said, King Nebuchadnezzar does not simply return thanks to God, but at the same time confesses his fault, for though subdued with deserved harshness, yet his haughtiness could not be arrested by any lighter remedy. First of all he says, I praise, extol, and glorify the king of heaven! This heaping together of words doubtless proceeded from vehement affection. At the same time a contrast must be understood, on the principle formerly mentioned; since God is never rightly praised unless the ignominy of men is detected; he is not properly extolled, unless their loftiness is cast down; he is never glorified unless men are buried in shame and he prostrate in the dust. Hence, while Nebuchadnezzar here praises, extols, and glorifies God, he also confesses himself and all mortals to be nothing -- as he did before -- to deserve no praise but rather the utmost ignominy.
He adds, since all his works are truth. Here jwsq, kesot, is taken for "rectitude or integrity." For tmaaynyd, dini-ameth, mean true judgments, but refer here to equity. God's works are therefore all truth, that is, all integrity, as if he had said, none of God's works deserve blame. Then the explanation Follows, All his ,ways are judgments. We see here the praise of God's perfect justice; this ought to be referred to Nebuchadnezzar personally, as if he had said, God does not deal with me too strictly; I have no reason for expostulating with him, or for murmuring as if he were too severe with me. I confess, therefore, that I deserve whatever punishment I sustain. And why so? All his ways are justice; meaning the highest rectitude. Then, All his works are truth; that is, nothing contrary to equity is found there, nothing crooked, but everywhere the highest justice will shine forth. We see then how Nebuchadnezzar by this language condemns himself out of his own mouth by declaring God's justice to be in all his works. This general form of expression does not prevent Nebuchadnezzar from openly and freely confessing himself a criminal before God's tribunal; but it acquires greater force by his example, which admonishes us by the general confession of God's justice, rectitude, and truthfulness in whatever he does. And this is worthy of notice, since many find no difficulty in celebrating God's justice and rectitude when they are treated just as they like; but if God begins to treat them with severity, they then vomit forth their poison, and begin to quarrel with God, and to accuse him of injustice and cruelty. Since therefore Nebuchadnezzar here confesses God to be just and true in all his works, without any exception, notwithstanding his own severe chastisements, this confession is not feigned; for he necessarily utters what he says from the lowest depths of his heart, through his having experienced the rigor of the divine judgment.
He now adds at last, He can humble those who walk in pride. Here Nebuchadnezzar more openly displays his own disgrace, for he is not ashamed to confess his fault before the whole world, because his punishment was known to every one. As God then wished his folly to be universally detested, by making so horrible an example of him by his punishment, so Nebuchadnezzar now brings his own case forward, and bears witness to the justice of the penalty, in consequence of his extreme pride. Here then we see God's power joined with his justice, as we have previously mentioned. He does not attribute to God a tyranny free from all law; for as soon as ]Nebuchadnezzar had confessed all God's ways to be just, he condemns himself of pride directly afterwards. Hence he does not hesitate to expose his disgrace before mankind, that God may be glorified. And this is the true method of praising God, not only by confessing ourselves to be as nothing, but also by looking back upon our failings. We ought not only to acknowledge ourselves inwardly guilty before him, but also openly to testify the same before all mankind whenever it is necessary. And when he uses the word "humility," this may be referred to outward dejection; for Nebuchadnezzar was humbled when God east him out into the woods to pass his life in company with the wild beasts. But he was also humbled for another reason, as if he had been a son of God. Since this humbling is twofold, Nebuchadnezzar wishes here to express the former kind, because God prostrates and throws down the proud. This is one kind of humiliation; but it becomes profitless unless God afterwards governs us by a spirit of submission. Hence Nebuchadnezzar does not here embrace the grace of God, which was worthy of no common praise and exaltation; and in this edict he does not describe what is required of a pious man long trained in God's school; yet he shews how he had profited under God's rod, by attributing to him the height of power. Besides this, he adds the praise of justice and rectitude, while he confesses himself guilty, and bears witness to the justice of the punishment which had been divinely inflicted on him.
Grant, Almighty God, since the disease of pride remains fixed in us all through our original corruption in our father Adam, -- Grant, I say, that we may learn to mortify our spirits, and to be displeased with our conduct, as we ought; may we feel ourselves to be deprived of all wisdom and rectitude without thee alone. May we fly to thy pity, and confess ourselves utterly subject to eternal death; may we rely on thy goodness which thou hast deigned to offer us through thy Gospel; may we trust in that Mediator whom thou hast given us; may we never hesitate to fly to thee, to call upon thee as our Father, and having been renewed by thy Spirit, may we walk in true humility and modesty, till at length thou shalt raise us to that heavenly kingdom which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. -- Amen.