An Unlikely Psalmist

I’ll take lesser known songs of praise for 2000, Alex.

Blessed be the Most High, and praise and honor Him who lives forever,
for His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and His kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and He does according to His will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;

and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?”

Uh . . . who is David? Nope. Solomon? Nope, again. How about Isaiah? Wrong! One of the other prophets? Not them. Job? Not him either. Couldn’t be Paul. You’re right, couldn’t be. Then who?

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

No way!

Way! (Daniel 4:34-35)

Did a double reading in Daniel this morning. Four chapters covering the major events of Daniel & Co. in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar. And there’s a fresh sense of awe as I hover over this unlikely psalmist.

Unlikely because we’re talking king of Babylon here. You know, Babylon as in the merciless Chaldeans. A nation who, shaped by their leader, had the reputation of being a “ruthless and impetuous people,” sweeping across the whole earth to seize dwelling-places not their own. They were a feared and dreaded nation, a law to themselves, and concerned only with promoting their own honor. With horses swifter than leopards, and riders fiercer than wolves at dusk, they were unstoppable–like vultures swooping to devour helpless prey. A people bent on violence–deriding kings, scoffing at rulers, laughing at fortified cities. Worshipers of self, “whose own strength is their god.” (Hab. 1:6-11 NIV).

Yeah, it was their king who was the guy who blessed the Most High.

The same king who brought Daniel and friends to his palace and tried to conform them into his own image. The king who would think nothing of executing every wise man in his kingdom, whether magician, enchanter, sorcerer, or court counselor, if they couldn’t make known to him the details of his dream. The king who built big and imposing idols and demanded that all in his kingdom bow down to them whenever he said so. The king so enraged at three minor officials who refused to bow down to his idol, that he threw them into a burning inferno. The king who would stand upon the roof of his palace, look over Babylon, and whisper to himself, “Ain’t I something! This is MY kingdom that I have built by MY power for the glory of MY majesty” (Daniel 4:30).

Yup, he’s the one writing songs to praise and honor God who lives forever.

And as I chew on this sovereign, and his story, and his song, I can’t help but marvel that this unlikely psalmist is, in many ways, your typical trophy of grace.

His sins, many. His arrogance, off the charts. The blood on his hands would fill an ocean. And yet, by the Creator’s sovereign determination, through the Almighty’s infinite patience, God chooses to reveal Himself to him. And this man is brought to his senses and bows down before the God Most High, and blesses the LORD with all his soul. And all this, accomplished with justice–through a provision yet to be revealed to the world.

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show Gods righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins.

(Romans 3:23-25 ESV)

Nebuchadnezzar was a benefactor of “divine forbearance.” An unholy man made a worshiper of the One Holy God because His sin would one day be atoned for. The redemption of a ruthless despot fully justified in the eternal economy of the kingdom of heaven because God’s righteousness would be credited to him by a great exchange yet to happen. His former sins “passed over” because the Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for Nebuchadnezzar’s sake became poor, so that the Babylonian king by Christ’s poverty might become rich (2Cor. 8:9).

So that this once self-absorbed man might again look up from that same palace roof, behold the heavens, and bless the Most high, giving praise and honor to Him who lives forever.

And, bringing it home, so that this once self-consumed guy, sitting over his laptop doing his devo’s this morning, might do the same.

That’s the power of the cross. That’s the unfathomable love of God.


Bless the LORD, O my soul!

All because of His amazing grace. All for His everlasting glory!

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