“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.” – Daniel 4:37 NLT
What would cause the pagan king of one of the most powerful nations on earth to sing the praises of the God of Israel – the nation he had just defeated and whose people he had taken captive? Why would this man praise, glorify and honor the King of heaven. The answer is pretty simple. God had humbled him. Nebuchadnezzar had learned the power and prominence of God the hard way. A year earlier, God had given Nebuchadnezzar a dream in which He revealed to him what was going to happen in the not-too-distant future. It took Daniel to interpret the dream, but the meaning was clear. Because of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, God was going to have to humble him. The king refused to acknowledge that it was God who put kings on their thrones and not themselves. After King Nebuchadnezzar had conquered virtually every nation in the region, he took a look at all his accomplishments and the trappings of his success and began to feel a bit proud of his accomplishments. He had a powerful army, a beautiful palace, and enjoyed a life of ease and prosperity. He had it all. Power, possessions, prosperity, and prominence. He had everything he needed. Or so he thought.
Nebuchadnezzar had overlooked one important factor. It was God who had given him his throne and the ability to conquer all the surrounding nations. God had raised up Babylon for his own divine purposes. Nebuchadnezzar was simply a tool in the hands of God. So God took this pride-filled pagan king and humbled him. Daniel advised the king to take the dream seriously and to, “stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper” (Daniel 4:27 NLT). But Nebuchadnezzar refused to listen. So a year later, as he was walking around the roof of his majestic palace proudly surveying the domain he had built, tragedy struck. He lost his mind. He went crazy. He ended up living in the fields like an animal. He went from parading around the palace, strutting like a proud peacock in his royal robes to living like a wild animal. But when he finally “looked up to heaven,” his sanity returned. God restored his mind and his kingdom. But the key was a change in his heart. He had gone from worshiping self to worshiping God. He went from praising self to praising God. Through his tragedy he had come to understand what each and every one of us as God’s creation need to know. “His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’” (Daniel 4:34-35 NLT).
Pride is a powerful force in the hands of the enemy. He uses it to take our eyes off of God. Satan is not so much concerned that we worship him as he is that we worship ANYTHING other than God. And the worship of self is the ultimate form of idolatry. When we begin to believe our own press clippings and start to think we have made ourselves what we are, that is when we are in real danger. Self-exaltation is ultimately self-destructive. It can be bad for your health. Because God does not share His glory with anyone. The Scriptures remind us, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 NIV). The lesson Nebuchadnezzar had to learn was regarding God’s sovereignty. He had to understand that God is ruler over ALL the kingdoms of the earth, including his own. He had to learn that God was the only true King, not him. He had to learn that God was the consummate conqueror, not him. Nebuchadnezzar had learned the lesson that James simple reiterated: “All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud” (Daniel 4:37 NLT).
Father, we are a proud people. Even as believers we can begin to believe that we are self-made men and women. We have made ourselves what we are. Our accomplishments and achievements are the work of our hands. But in this passage You remind us that the only thing that separates us from the wild beasts in the field is Your divine, sovereign hand. You can lift us up and You can bring us down. You will not tolerate self-worship. You will not put up with self-exaltation. Keep our eyes focused on You and You alone. May we acknowledge your power and sovereignty without having to learn to do so the hard way. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men