Psalms 26, 28
Old Testament: Daniel 4:28-37
New Testament: 1 John 4:7-21

While I absolutely ❤ the passage from 1 John this morning….it is the Old Testament lesson that caught my eye….mainly because it is so off-kilter compared to the rest of the Biblical narrative.

Here we have Nebuchadnezzer…..the great king of Babylon….going insane and–through that experience–comes to know YHWH as the Lord of all Creation.

The event in and of itself is not unique. Throughout the Old Testament there are examples of kings, prophets, and court officials doing some rather eccentric things. People who temporarily lose their minds as a punishment for blasphemy or pride.

In the end, they are always restored to wholeness and peace of mind…..but the twist here is that Nebuchadnezzer is a Gentile.

In the natural flow of the Jewish tradition….this isn’t supposed to happen. The oppressor of God’s chosen one cannot possibly be given an experience of the divine, can he???

It would be absurd to think that mental illness is a punishment from God. He doesn’t work like that. The crux of the story lies in the fact that this foreigner, this stranger……even he is not outside the Grace of God.

The good news which shines through in this passage is that even the worst of us might be able to see God. Even those of us who feel so lost….who feel as though we have lost all semblance of “normal” and “healthy” might one day join our voices with the Babylonian king; in declaring God’s wonder and glory in our lives:

I blessed the Most High,
and praised and honored the one who lives forever.
For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does what he wills with the host of heaven
and the inhabitants of the earth.
There is no one who can stay his hand
or say to him, “What are you doing?”

At that time my reason returned to me; and my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom. My counselors and my lords sought me out, I was re-established over my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven. (Dan 4:34b-37)