Daniel 4 (5)
All that Daniel spoke to Nebuchadnezzar came to pass, a dreadful judgment from the Lord against the hubris, cruelty, indifference to others, and self-centeredness of a man not all that different from you and me. As Saul was brought down because he considered his will and ways to be better than God’s, so Nebuchadnezzar would know a similar plight. And what about us?
Read 1 Samuel 13.1-14.
Read Daniel 4.28-33.
Think it Through
1. What finally triggered God’s act of judgment against Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 28-30)? Note the pronouns: “I”, “my”, “my”. Compare this with Saul’s act of disobedience, and with Ecclesiastes 2.1-17, where Solomon reflected on all his achievements. How many different forms of the first-person pronoun do you find in Solomon’s account? Why is this so particularly objectionable to God? Many writers have commented that ours has become an age of narcissism. What do they mean? Do they have a point? Is this hubris and self-centeredness visible even in our churches? Is it still objectionable to God?
2. Summarize the judgment that befell Nebuchadnezzar (the reference to seven in v. 32may mean simply the complete or appointed time – tuck that away for later). Note also that what Daniel threatened did not immediately come to pass (v. 29). God gave him an extended period of grace to repent. Paul says the wrath (judgment) of God is now being poured out against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, who suppress the truth by their unrighteous deeds (Rom. 1.18-32). But does His judgment always take the kind of drastic forms we see with King Nebuchadnezzar? Explain. What was the purpose of God’s judgment against Nebuchadnezzar (the last part of v. 32)? What is the purpose of the discipline God brings against His own people from time to time (Heb. 12.7-11)? What does God’s judgment have to do with the Good News that He gives His Kingdom “to whomever He chooses”? (We’ll see whom He chooses to give it to in due course.)
“Then the king became even more insolent, even as God was patient and had shown magnanimity by endeavoring to lead him to repentance.” Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD)
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid themrespect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for ourprofit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12.7-11
Lord, take away all pride and self-centeredness, and give me a heart of compassion and service toward others, so that…
Pray Psalm 51.5-9.
We must never forget that we are sinners, and that we do not naturally live according to God’s Word. We need His cleansing and renewing power to blot out our sins and fill us with Jesus.
Psalm 51.4-9 (Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Against You only, Savior, have I become unclean;
Thus just the condemnation which You pronounce on me.
Lord, I was born to sinning, while You seek truth within;
To wisdom my heart winning, release me from my sin!
In Jesus’ blood and mercy, Lord, cleanse my evil heart!
Let me washed, cleansed, renewed be and pure in whole and part.
Bring joy again and gladness; look not upon my sin.
Deliver me from sadness; renew me yet again!
T. M Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.