Grace to the Humble

Daniel chapter 4 is unique because it appears to be an open letter from Nebuchadnezzar himself. This letter is a summary of a series of events that ended in Nebuchadnezzar’s humble surrender to the Lordship of the “King of Heaven.” 

Nebuchadnezzar recounts the story of a dream that was troubling him. The dream was a prophecy that he would lose his mind and be like an animal until he “acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” (Dan. 4:25) 

About 12 months after the dream Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the roof of his royal palace and admiring his own great accomplishments saying to himself, “is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30) The dream was fulfilled and Nebuchadnezzar lived in the wilderness as an animal until he repented and humbled himself before God at which time God restored his kingdom to him. Nebuchadnezzar ends the letter with this acknowledgement: “His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the people of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the people of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “what have you done?”… Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:34b-35, 37)

These words are a far cry from Nebuchadnezzar’s self-exultation found in verse 30 and they give us a glimpse into the character of God as the One who “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5) This is a major theme throughout all of scripture. In fact, God says in Proverbs 8:13, “I hate pride and arrogance.” Daniel gives us an insight into what it is about pride that God hates in Daniel 4:27 when he counsels Nebuchadnezzar to renounce his sins “by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed.” Pride holds God in contempt and declares “everything I do is right and all my ways are just.” Pride is a glory thief, worshipping the self and beholding the self as most glorious and worthy. The outworking of pride is disregard for God’s desires, His order, His commands, His passion, and results in a life that is against God. Paul says in Romans 12:3 to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought and to have a sober judgement about ourselves in respect to God’s glory and majesty. Humbling ourselves before God means acknowledging God for who He truly is and what we truly are, submitting to God’s will and desires, and considering others as more important than ourselves. True humility is something that pleases God and He promises to give grace to, exalt, give honor to, and have regard for the humble. 

Scripture for Further Study

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)

1 Peter 5:5-6 “all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” 

Isaiah 66:2 “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”

Proverbs 16:5 “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”

Study Questions

What is it about pride that God hates so much?

Do you see the pride in your own heart? If not, why not? If so, what should you do with that?

How is it that you can appear to be doing all the right things, but your heart still be puffed up in pride?


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Study Guide by:

Patrick O’Rourke, Redeemer Church Groups Minister

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