GETTING THE MESSAGE/Daniel’s humility before God

GETTING THE MESSAGE/Daniel’s humility before God


Daniel chapter four is a lesson in the necessity of humility before God. Pride lifts up the heart of man above God and against God and without God. Proverbs 16:5 says, “Every proud heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured that none shall go unpunished.” 

King Nebuchadnezzar learned this lesson. The king “was at ease in his house and prospering in his palace” (Daniel 4:4). Then he had a dream that unnerved him. Daniel came to him and interpreted the dream. The dream meant that the king was going to be reduced to literally living like a beast eating grass, unless he humbled himself before God. 

The king was shaken by the dream and the interpretation, but a year later, he was walking on the roof of his palace and while viewing the majesty of the city said, “Is this not great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” The sentence from heaven sounded in response to the proud heart, and the king became insane, eating grass like a beast of the field.

One of the main points of the passage is that God rules over the kingdoms of men.  God’s judgment on King Nebuchadnezzar was until he learned that “the Most High rules the kingdoms of men, and gives it to whom he will” (verses 17, 25, 32). It is a lesson we all must learn. There is only one God and he is sovereign over the rulers of this world.

In chapter 2, Daniel revealed that a ruler from God would come and establish a kingdom that would destroy all the kingdoms of men and last forever. This future kingdom pointed to the coming of Christ into the world.  That is the kingdom we must seek after.  King Nebuchadnezzar was a mighty king, but he exalted himself above God. There is no future to any who walk that way, no matter their title.

God is making clear to us that He uses rulers, good or bad, wise or foolish, for His own ends. It was by God’s purpose that wicked and foolish men put Christ Jesus to death on the cross. They meant it for evil, God meant it for good.

God doesn’t infuse malice or evil in rulers, but finding it there, He uses it for His own particular ends and purposes, much like a man finds a river, and then diverts the streams from it for his own ends. Because men are sinful, the less restraint a sinful man has upon him as a ruler, the worse he will be. Richard Sibbes said it was the mercy of God to a country to have restraints on a ruler, whether it be conscience, other rulers, or a lack of power. The founders of this country had enough wisdom to put checks and balances with three different branches of government, to restrain power.

As Christians we are told to honor and pray for whoever is in authority over us, whether good or bad. The main reason to pray for and give honor to those in positions of rule over us is because God tells us it is His will. Leaders need God’s help and restraining hand. This passage instructs us not to give undue weight to human governments. We desire good for our country, but don’t place it above God.

Another important point of the passage is that it is the kindness of God that leads a person to repentance. King Nebuchadnezzar was restored to sanity and he became a humble worshipper of the Most High God (verses 34-37). He says of God, “Those who walk in pride, he is able to humble.”

All men are vain. It is the worst sin because it blinds us to our condition before God. It’s a false mirror. It makes a person see himself as better than he is. The passage teaches us that pride turns men into beasts. Beware of it in yourself. God shows his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Here, then, is the remedy to beastly pride.

It was a great mercy to the king that God afflicted him. It is better to eat grass like a beast and be led to repentance, than live like a king and perish. Those who perish are those who have never been low enough. If we have been reconciled to God by grace, then our heart and mouth, like King Nebuchadnezzar, shall proclaim the Lord’s praise. John Boys said, “As death is the last enemy, so pride is the last sin destroyed in us.” Sanity in the mind is never apart from grace in the soul.

The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions