Summary: Pride tends to make one see themselves as the center of one’s own universe; as the one who is in control, when in fact, pride holds us prisoner. God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar on the issue of pride totally changed his thinking.
Pride’s Proud Prisoner
Text: Dan.4: 8-18; Prov.16: 18
Intro: One need not go far in God’s Word to find the sin of pride rearing its ugly head. Genesis 3: 4-5 recounts for us the fall of Adam and Eve. Their fall was the direct result of pride having taken root in their hearts. Satan tempted them with the same idea and lie that had caused his own fall. He told Eve, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen.3: 5b).
In Isaiah 14: 12-15 we are given the account of the fall of Lucifer, who was one of God’s most beautiful creations. After his fall, Lucifer (“Son of the Morning”) became known as Satan (“Adversary”). This passage vividly points out the core issue in the sin of pride. Five times, in verses 13 and 14, we find the words “I will.” Satan had an “I” problem. And so it is with the sin of pride—the individual is always the focus. Just as a matter of interest, if you’ll look at the words “sin” and “pride,” you will notice that “I” is in the center of both.
Pride has been wreaking havoc with men and women ever since the fall of Satan. Even Christians are not immune to the ravages of this wicked sin. F.J. Huegel said,
Just remember that more Christians go on the rocks, defeated, over the nasty little thing we call “hurt feelings” than over the so-called great crises which test the very fiber of the soul.
F.J. Huegel, quoted in “Our Daily Bread,” December 6, 1986.
Pride affects people in a strange way, for “pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the one who has it” (“Our Daily Bread,” December, 1986). We must learn to recognize this sin in our own lives in all of its ugliness. If we don’t, God may have to knock the props out from under us. Believe me, He knows just how to do that.
Nebuchadnezzar is a prime example of a man who thought everything revolved around him. He felt there was no one to thank for his accomplishments but himself. But God took him down more than a notch or two to show him differently. At the end of it all, Nebuchadnezzar learned that God is supreme in all things.
Theme: In God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar, we notice:
I. NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S PRIDE
A. He Took Pride In His Position.
1. Nebuchadnezzar saw himself at the center of everything.
Dan.4: 10 “Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.”
NOTE: Someone once wisely noticed: “God pickles the proud and preserves the foolish” (Source Unknown). The way I see it, either way you wind up canned.
2. Nebuchadnezzar saw himself in control of everything.
Dan.4: 20 “The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.”
B. He Took Pride In His Power.
Dan.4: 29 “At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
30 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?”
C. He Took Pride In His Prosperity.
Dan.4: 4 “I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:”
NOTE: The idea here is that “outwardly all was prosperous” (Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, Editors, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg. 783).
Dan.4: 12a “The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all…”
D. He Took Pride In His Productivity.
Dan.4: 30a “The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built…”
NOTE: Nebuchadnezzar mistakenly believed that he was solely responsible for the greatness and productivity of Babylon. This is the same shape America is in today. There is no doubt that America is a great nation. But I’m afraid that she has forgotten Who made her great. Abraham Lincoln once made the same observation.
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.