“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” – Daniel 4:37
Maybe you have heard the stories of Nebuchadnezzar, but in case you have not, Daniel, Chapter 4 details the story of Nebuchadnezzar, king in the land of Babylonia. He invaded and defeated Judah, including the city of Jerusalem, ruthlessly killed the inhabitants and took thousands of people captive back to Babylonia including Daniel. Daniel records a few of the king’s activities, including the building of a golden image. After building the golden image, Nebuchadnezzar issues a decree that his all his people were to bow down to it. The golden image symbolized his invincibility. No other king or kingdom could overpower him.
But this “invincible” king was about to learn a valuable lesson that God is sovereign, a lesson he would learn the hard way.
Nebuchadnezzar, proud of his splendor and majesty, aspired to surpass his God-given position of honor, and decided go beyond it. The king had a dream. His wise men were unable to interpret the team so Daniel, who was successful in the past of revealing the dream as well as the what the dream meant, was called.
The dream is a large strong tree that had leaves and fruit but it was cut down and all that was left was the stump. Daniel interpreted the dream and told the king the tree represented him and for seven years he would have the heart of an animal and would behave as an animal for those years. His kingdom would not be taken away from him, although he would be too incapacitated to govern. Daniel appeals to the king in verse 27: “Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
For a period of twelve months, nothing happened. But in verses 29-30 we read the following: “Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Verse 31-33 tells us what happens next. “Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.”
Only when he returned to humbling himself before God and acknowledging God’s sovereignty over his life, was he restored back to the kingdom. And he admitted at the end of verse 36 that “… those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Even the most powerful person. Even kings.
A study of history will reveal any number of great people who fell victim to their pride. Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and others will go down as major history lessons for all of us to see what pride, arrogance, and a haughty spirit can do to a person and his life.
But what about us? We are not great people or kings. Pride can affect us and our relationships just as easily as the more visible examples in history. We need to ask ourselves if we have blind spots that have been created because we did not recognize pride in my life. And what has been the impact of that pride in our relationships?
My prayer is that God will teach us in the Sabotage series the truth of Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Tomorrow we will take about the antidote for pride; humility.
1. Read Daniel 4. How would you entitle this chapter?
2. In Verse 4, the king said he was contented and prosperous. When things are going well in your own life, does this make you more vulnerable to pride?
3. Thinking of yourself as a tree, have you ever been cut down to size? What were the circumstances? Do you think that God was involved? How did you feel afterward?
4. Why do you suppose that God allowed a year to pass before fulfilling the dream?
5. If someone were to give you advice as Daniel did to Nebuchadnezzar in Verse 27, what would it be?
6. Pray that God will teach you to listen to his direction in your life.