Suggested Reading: Daniel 4
“There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. Christians are right: it is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. …pride… is enmity. And not only between man and man, but enmity to God.” C. S. Lewis
Daniel 4 takes place 30 years following the episode in the fiery furnace. Daniel was about 50 years old, still serving Nebuchadnezzar, the king who took him from his homeland at age 15 and moved him 900 miles away. Remember that it was Nebuchadnezzar who tried to reprogram Daniel (and thousands of other youth) into fine young Babylonians. He also threatened to kill him unless he could recount and interpret his dream. He was the king who made a 90 ft statue and demanded everyone worship it, and since Daniel’s three friends wouldn’t, he tossed them into a flaming furnace. And now 30 years later Nebuchadnezzar’s faith is still in the wrong place. God plans to invert his faith – flip it, turn it, put it where it needs to be.
In many ways Nebuchadnezzar had what most of us seek. That was his downfall, and it is ours as well. He was content, at east, secure. He had slaves doing all his work, he had a family, a son (heir), and a new palace. He also was in control, had plenty of power. As the king of the greatest empire in the world at the time his reach was immense. From Egypt to Iran (modern), from Syria to Saudi Arabia. He also had culture. His kingdom contained two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the city walls of Babylon).
“Is this not Babylon the great that I have built by my vast power to be a royal residence and to display my majestic glory?” ~Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:30
Who wouldn’t envy Nebuchadnezzar? This is not just the American Dream, it is what all of humanity desires. However, there was a big problem … and Nebuchadnezzar could have seen it every time he looked in the mirror. But he didn’t. Nebuchadnezzar was content and proud – in himself. God was not a part of this picture.
Pride is not always boasting, gloating, and crowing about ourselves. Sometimes it is more subtle. We can be proud of what we do. We can be proud of what we do not do. Are there signs of pride in your heart? Do we often thank God for what He has provided?
The emphasis of pride is always on ME. Nebuchadnezzar found out that God was not going to allow that to continue. The king had an alarming dream. He shared it with Daniel, who informed him that the dream was bad news – the King would live like an animal. Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar had a relationship of mutual respect. Faithful Daniel encouraged Nebuchadnezzar to repent of his ways, to become concerned about others, and to give his life to God. But it would take seven years of living like a beast of the field, out of his mind, for him to finally humble himself before God. Nebuchadnezzar went from the palace to the pasture – quite a fall.
What would it take to end a prideful attitude in our lives? Would 7 years as a beast do it? The end of pride came with a humble spirit towards God.
God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. ~James 4:6,10
…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” ~1 Peter 5:5
The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted and they will be humbled… ~Isaiah 2:12
Once Nebuchadnezzar came to realize the dominion and power of God, he surrendered himself to the Lord. This resulted in an eruption of Praise (1-3; 34-37)! Notice what he says about God after his experience:
*Everything He does is right
*All His ways are just
He did not learn these things in his life of ease and luxury … he learned them the hard way. When we give thanks to God we downplay pride, and focus on faith.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. ~1 John 2:15-16
We all have to decide if we are going to submit to God by choice. We all will submit one day when every knee will bow.
This story also reminds us that there is such a thing as Redemptive Shame – true shame engendered as a result of our rebellion and sin before God. When our sin is exposed before God and at times before other people, our embarrassment can propel us into the arms of God (Longman).
The King started off with his faith in himself and his many gods, but now it is an inverted faith – flipped around, reversed, now pointing in the right direction. That is the last we will hear from him. But not the end of Daniel’s story.
Thanks for reading.