The Fall and Rise of Nebuchadnezzar

The Bible is replete with devastating, yet instructive, examples of pride’s effect on man. There’s Uzziah, David, Moses, the Apostles, Herod Agrippa, and the church at Laodicea, but my personal favorite is found in the fourth chapter of Daniel’s prophecy; where the pride of Nebby K. Nezzer, which is Veggie Taleese for Nebuchadnezzar, is recounted for us. The first five verses of Daniel 4 read as follows:

Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! and how might are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.

Here King Nebuchadnezzar is enjoying the golden years of his life. The world was conquered, the borders were secure, and all the economic indicators were strong. He had palaces, power, and prosperity, but he also had a problem; this awful dream that no one could interpret. No one that is, except for Daniel, whom Nebby K. called Belteshazzar. Of course, it wasn’t Daniel who interpreted dreams, it was God, but Daniel was the instrument used by the Lord.

This dream was serious business, and Nebuchadnezzar was dismayed because he didn’t understand the meaning of the dream. Daniel is dismayed because he did understand the meaning; so he tactfully answers the king at the end of v. 19, “My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.” In other words, “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!” And then he provides the interpretation, which is recorded in vv. 24-27:

This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.

Daniel identifies Nebuchadnezzar’s principal problem as pride, because up to this point Nebuchadnezzar had failed to acknowledge that it is ultimately God who rules. The king’s world was bound up in self; his was not a problem of low self-esteem. In fact, he esteemed himself too highly, and he did not esteem God at all. That had to change. What was the remedy? Verse 25 provides it, “Acknowledge that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of men.”

Nebuchadnezzar must look away from himself, and look to Almighty God. This is the proper therapy for all who suffer from a proud heart, but the King refused the treatment. Daniel continues the saga in verse 28:

All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.

And all that Daniel had foretold, came to pass. Just imagine the astonishment of the palace servant as he who was couched in splendor is no longer allowed on the couch; as he who once walked in the palatial gardens, is now grazing in the palatial gardens. All of that because of pride.

New Perspective

In time the King was restored. Verses 34-37 read: And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven… Up to this point the King had never looked beyond his own accomplishments, now he had a new perspective. This is reminiscent of the prodigal son from Luke 15:17, “When he came to himself.”

New Perception

“and mine understanding returned unto me…” When the king thought seriously about God and His glory, then he was able to come to terms with himself and his need. God had been remote to Nebuchadnezzar, now He is a personal God to whom honor is owed.

New Praise

“and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever…” No longer is Nebuchadnezzar singing “I Did It My Way”; it has been replaced with “God Did it His Way”!

Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

Only God can effect such a change in the heart of the proud. And don’t you think that this story is only historically interesting but practically irrelevant, because most of us have our little empires, whether they are professional, recreational, social, commercial, and even ecclesiastical. We all have personal realms in which we believe ourselves to be more significant than we truly are. How easy it is for us to carry on about what we have accomplished instead of what God in His goodness has chosen to bless. We use much of what happens around us to feed our egos rather than fuel our humility. So we must fight this pride monster ruthlessly. And here’s how we do it.

Under the Influence of the Word

Humility means recognizing and believing that “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it,” (Psalm 127:1a). Paul said “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”

I have yet to meet an effective believer who neglected feeding on God’s Word. All believer’s should follow Ezra’s example; he “Prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and do it, and to teach [its] statutes and judgments,” (Ezra 7:10). And as a member of this church you need to follow Israel’s example; Nehemiah 8, one of the greatest revivals in history occurred when the congregation gathered together and told Ezra, “Bring out the book!” Attend expectantly, listen carefully, and apply the Scriptures properly, and then you will be able to leave joyfully.

Under the Influence of the Spirit

We need to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives; being filled with the Spirit is not the privilege of a few, but the birthright of all who are in Christ. Remember the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” You will never accomplish anything for God apart from the work of His Spirit. As the prophet Zechariah 4:6 said, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” We must not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. God is not looking for the powerful, or the successful, or the rich, or the beautiful, or the dynamic communicators. In fact, God has chosen the foolish and the weak things of the world to shame the wise and the mighty of the world. God is looking for those individuals who have a broken and contrite heart, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;” “a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” And these are the people, whether they are extroverts or introverts, funny or melancholy, these are the people who are regularly bowing before God’s Word with an expectant heart and seeking fresh enablement from the Holy Spirit.

Let us all, in the words of the Apostle Peter, be “clothed with humility,” (1 Peter 5:5). Let’s put on the garment of humility.


About Travis

Christ follower. Husband of one woman. Father of three young men. Former 11B. Blessed to pastor the Bible Baptist Church of Mount Vernon, KY.
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