Daniel 4:34-37 "After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. 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?’ When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before. 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 is a story about a man whose pride eclipsed God's power and glory, how he was "cut down" from a place of prosperity, purified himself of his pride, and how he become aware of the Lord's exclusive sovereignty and power.
Nebuchadnezzar was a king of Babylon. He was the leader of a successful army that captured many cities and furthered the expansion of his own kingdom and glory. One day, Nebuchadnezzar had a vision about a tree. This tree was tall and mighty, reached to the heavens, and gave food and safety to the entire world. A messenger from Heaven ordered this tree cut down, but insisted that its stump and roots remain. The tree (which is referenced in the Bible as a "he") was to retreat into the wilderness for a period of time so that everyone would be reminded that all kingdoms are under the reign of the Most High, and that He hands over authority to whomever He chooses. Daniel, who had already advised the king on his dreams once before, explained to the king that this vision was actually the king's own story and what would happen if he didn't turn from his sin and from his pride.
King Nebuchadnezzar failed to head the warning and carried on in his same ways. One day he looked out over his city, basking in its magnificence. He accredited its glory to his own mighty power and greatness. A voice called down from Heaven and Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of his city and into the wilderness. After some time in his exile, the king turned to God, praising and honoring Him. Nebuchadnezzar returned to his city and was restored as the ruler of his kingdom, and "was given greater honor than before."
This story has encouraged me to step back and reflect on my own life. Looking at all that I have, the things that I've done, all that I'm responsible for, and the goals I've set out to accomplish, who is at the center - me, or God? Who am I giving credit for my achievements and success? Have I surrendered absolute power and control to God, or am I attempting to make things happen by my own means? Am I acting in a way that could jeopardize what God has given me?
God, cleanse me of any pride. Everything I've been given - every possession, success, responsibility - has come from you. Help me to live and lead out of humility. And all that I say and do, let it lead back to you. Amen!