Chapter 4 begins with Nebuchadnezzar sharing his story about having a dream, it’s interpretation by Daniel and the dream’s fulfilment. It is truly a story of God dealing with pride, ego and arrogance. In verse 30 Nebuchadnezzar says ‘is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty’ denying God had any part in it at all. But what God gives, he can also take away if we don’t get our priorities right.
The second dream is God’s warning. It sounded pretty vivid with ‘images and visions passing through [his] mind’, and again Nebuchadnezzar calls on Daniel to give him peace by interpreting it for him. This time, Daniel is afraid, because it isn’t good news. It is a warning to the King to change his ways, to renounce his sins by doing what is right and to be kind to the oppressed. Sounds like he had let the authority God had given him go to his head and become a bit of a tyrant as a King, narcissistic and full of pride at his own achievements. Unfortunately, despite the King seeing and knowing God’s power in his life, Nebuchadnezzar has begun to believe that everything he had been given, the authority he had over the kingdom was all through his own ability and greatness.
Although God shows patience and gives him twelve months to repent of his pride, the King conveniently forgets and continues in his self-glorification. So, God strips him of everything…his kingdom, home, family, comforts and his sanity for ‘seven times’, maybe referring to days, weeks, months, or years, but enough for him to come to his senses eventually and realise to whom he owes everything. We can return to verse 1-3 at the beginning of the chapter when we see a total change of heart and restoration of his sanity after he ‘raised [his] eyes to heaven’. Humbled by his experiences he lays all the glory at the feet of God. He ends his recount by praising, glorifying and exalting the King of heaven and reminding others that ‘those who walk in pride he is able to humble’. God brings him to his knees.
So maybe this story is a wake-up call for us today. Are we kingdom building for ourselves or for God? It is interesting that pride can be seen as a good value in our culture today, and yet God abhors it. How do we exhibit pride? Is it in what we have achieved? how much money we earn? in how we look? in our abilities? Proverbs is filled with warnings for those who refuse to be humble, but the New Testament is full of blessings for those who put others before themselves. Maybe today, we should reflect on pride, remind ourselves of who our saviour is and lastly question if we are being kind to the oppressed as God commanded King Nebuchadnezzar. As it says in Micah 6:8. ‘What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ Definitely a message for current times!