The king spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power…
I. WE SEE WHAT SHOULD BE THE END OF ALL GOVERNMENT (v. 11, 12). A great man is often symbolized by a tree in ancient and Oriental writers. The king's tree gave shelter to some, a home to others, and protection to all. As the shade and fruits of trees protect and support the beasts that seek shelter under them, so government should protect and support their people. The end of every government should be the greatest possible amount of freedom and happiness to all the people. It should protect the weak, give shelter to the oppressed, hope and employment to the poor, and provide for the diffusion of useful knowledge. By the stump of the roots remaining is meant that his kingdom should not be destroyed or alienated from him during his affliction. A regent, probably his own son, Evil-merodach, governed for him during his insanity.
II. This history teaches us another thing — THAT PROSPERITY IS DANGEROUS. It is not always the beggar that loses his soul. The man who has just lost all his property is oftentimes not in as much danger as the man who has just gained a large fortune. It requires more care to hold a full cup than an empty one. "Adversity may depress, but prosperity elevates to presumption." On the lofty pinnacle, where all is sunshine, we need a special power to keep us, a special arm to sustain us. Let me warn you, then, to remember that prosperity is not always permanent. Commercial disasters often come in a way and at a time least expected. The tendency of prosperity is to lead to dangerous expenditures and speculations. What now seems so promising may result in disappointment.
III. THAT PRIDE IS IN ITSELF AND IN ITS UTTERANCES AN EXCEEDINGLY DANGEROUS THING, AND ODIOUS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. "And those that walk in pride, He is able to abase" (v. 29-35).
IV. We have here one of the most striking and instructive lessons of GOD'S POWER TO HUMBLE THE PROUD that is recorded in the Bible. Babylon's mighty monarch had made many successful campaigns, and obtained great glory. He was the head of the mightiest kingdom and ruler over the greatest city then in the world; but his riches and his fame, his treasures and his power, could not preserve his peace of mind. His well-appointed guards and numerous army could not keep him from being terrified by dreams. The majesty and all-governing influence of God are here displayed in his acknowledged, absolute, undisputed sovereignty over the world. God's victory over the mightiest and proudest conqueror was easy and complete. How utterly in vain, then, for the impenitent to hope to escape from the presence of God!
(W. A. Scott D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The king spake, and 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 honour of my majesty?