Today's passage in Daniel chapter 4 speaks to our selfish pride as humans, and how it can lead to destruction. Yet, this passage also offers hope - hope that our joy and fulfillment is found in God alone. After witnessing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego endure the fiery furnace (Ch. 3), King Nebuchadnezzar is immediately brought to his knees and brings praise to the One God, the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In Daniel 4:1-2 he says “Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the most High God has done for me”. It’s hard to believe that the same king who built a massive gold statue demanding its worship, and the same king who used magicians and sorcerers to attempt to interpret his strange dreams - this same pagan, powerful king is now worshiping God? It seems like he has experienced peace from God after witnessing God save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace.
As Nebuchadnezzar’s story progresses in Ch. 4, he has yet another strange dream that troubles him. He first consults all the “Wise Men '' of the times, his astrologers and magicians, then finally Daniel. God reveals the meaning to Daniel, and he interprets this second dream for Nebuchadnezzar.
It’s apparent here that Nebuchadnezzar had quickly returned to other gods. Rather than truly worshiping God, as it first appears in the first couple of verses, he merely added God - Yahweh - to his pantheon of other gods. God would need to humble him further. He would be brought down and humiliated (4:31), thrown out of his kingdom and made to eat grass like an ox. Only at the end of this time of humiliation, once again Nebuchadnezzar “blessed the Most High and praised and honored him, who lives forever” (4:34).
This chapter is not just about the ancient king, Nebuchadnezzar; it is about all of us. How quickly do we lose hold of the peace that God offers us and forget God? In Nebuchadnezzar’s case, it only took one verse! We have such short memories and are such selfish creatures. We falter from walking with the Lord to look for satisfaction in things of this world - often minute to minute. We forget the trials God has brought us through and look to the ways of this world for help as we try to fulfill our needs apart from God.
This is true for those who belong to Christ, and for non-believers as well. People are often heard giving God glory for amazing things in creation, or miracles they may see, or their own accomplishments, yet they don’t truly know God. Thankfully as believers we have truth of the Gospel and eternal hope in Christ, and evidence of his work in our lives. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God with his lips, but did he truly know Yahweh? It is only God’s work in our hearts that can bring salvation. God alone can save - let us be reminded that it is by God’s grace we are saved. Nebuchadnezzar ruled one of the largest civilizations in human history, which has since disappeared. How quickly will the small kingdoms we are building for ourselves here also one day fade away? But what has been done for the Lord will remain forever. As believers we can be reminded by this passage to seek the kingdom of God and not of this world.
Lord, you are good and gracious. Full of mercy and love. We thank you for your word and the lessons we can gain studying your scriptures. Lord help us to have an eternal perspective, as we go through our days. Give us grace to examine our hearts and minds and set our focus on you and your will for our lives. Help us to seek you and remember that the things of this world will one day pass but what is done for you will remain forever. Remind us of the joy and fulfillment that we find in you through praise to your name. Give us wisdom as we study your word and apply your truth to our lives.