At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 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. Daniel 4:36-37 (NIV).
Nebuchadnezzar finally bent the knee and his kingdom was restored. This is the last we see of King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. After this episode, Nebuchadnezzar’s storyline ends. In a few short years, an unworthy descendant take his throne.
Until then, Nebuchadnezzar unknowingly gives us the greatest lesson of that we could learn from him: be humble and give glory to God alone. Centuries later, Jesus said it best: “for those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” When you echo the words of God Immanuel, you are on the right track. Nebuchadnezzar was, and he didn’t even know it.
What did he learn from the experience? Perhaps the better question is what can we learn from it? One thing is to always humble ourselves before God, and to give Him the glory from the field of our lives. It’s God who gives us those lives. It’s God who gives us the talents with which we build on His gift. It’s God who moves throughout time to affect the circumstances of our lives, and to bless us with opportunities, events, and words. If we choose arrogance instead, we’re forgetting who makes everything possible. That never ends well.
Another is to remember that glory is fleeting. Here, I think of the last scene in Patton, himself an elusive, Nebuchadnezzar-like character. As the movie closes, George C. Scott s speaks one of Patton’s famous quotes. “For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”
Daniel could have said that to Nebuchadnezzar. If you think about it, in a way, he did. Let’s remember today that only God is eternal, that what glory we know here is attributable to Him. That all glory, except the Lord’s, is fleeting.
For further reading: Exodus 15:2, Psalm 34:3, Proverbs 22:4, Matthew 23:12, Daniel 5:1
Lord, all praise and glory to You alone!
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