Daniel 4

Daniel 4 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence

In Scripture, it never bodes well for a king to spend much time on the roof of his palace, perhaps because he has such an elevated view of himself already that the extra height tends to cloud his judgment.  In our study of the book of Judges we’ll soon find that Eglon, the fat king of Moab, is killed in his roof chamber when entertaining a foreigner who desires to share a secret with him in private.  Clearly, the king was not in his right mind to leave himself unprotected in that way.   King David also was lounging on the roof of his house when he caught sight of the beautiful, bathing Bathsheba and desired to have her illicitly for himself resulting in a multitude of sins and misery both in his own personal life and within his kingdom.  Then, in our text today, Nebuchadnezzar, at ease in his palace, is walking on the roof admiring the beauty and grandeur of his kingdom, and he proudly boasts saying, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”  Immediately, when he finished his boast, he heard a voice from heaven informing him that he would lose his kingdom and be driven from among men to dwell with the beasts of the field until he understands that the Most High God rules over all the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever he wishes.

Before this actually happens, Nebuchadnezzar had foreseen something of this in a dream but did not understand what it meant until Daniel explained it to him.  And it’s interesting how Daniel himself responds to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  When the Lord reveals to him both the dream and its interpretation, we are told that he is “dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him.”  Why is he dismayed, though, and why do his thoughts alarm him?  I submit to you that there are two reasons for his consternation that stem both from his loyalty to his king as well as his concern to convey such bad tidings to one who is both powerful and unstable and will not likely receive the news well.  Not only is Daniel perplexed about how to convey the news to the king, he is also deeply troubled by the judgment against his king himself.

When Nebuchadnezzar perceives Daniel’s apprehension, he assures him that he can speak freely, and Daniel says to him, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!”  Certainly, some might think that Daniel is merely buttering up the king speaking insincere words of flattery, but Daniel is a prophet of God who is speaking the truth to a man who needs to hear it.  But how could Daniel speak in such a way to a man who had destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, enslaved an entire generation of Israelites, and had recently tried to kill his three friends in a fiery furnace?  It was because he understood that it was the Lord who had put him in that position of authority in the first place.

It’s amazing the kind of opportunities that David had to kill King Saul when he was being pursued by him in the wilderness.  But each time David’s men told him to kill his king, David would respond saying, “the Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed.”  Then he would seek to convince the king of his sin and urge him to repent of his actions, leaving the judgment in the hands of the Lord.  Clearly, Saul was a wicked man, not unlike Nebuchadnezzar or even Nero, but David desired that he come to the knowledge of the truth, as did Daniel for King Nebuchadnezzar.

This is exactly the attitude that we are exhorted to have for those in authority over us, whether they are kings, presidents, governors or sheriffs.  In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul urges that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” not only that we might live in peace, but also because He desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So, whether we have proud presidents or godless governors, we are urged to pray for them, hope the best for them, and express our loyalty to them in all that God allows.  But, certainly, it is OK for us to pray that God would humble all those who walk in pride, including those who are in places of authority, asking God that they would see their many sins and iniquities, and repent over them that their reason might be restored to them.  Surely, we ought to pray for their greatness, prosperity and strength, but we also ought to pray that they might know, and always remember, that the Most High God rules over their respective kingdoms and gives them to whomever he wills, even to the lowliest of men or women.  Perhaps, it couldn’t hurt to pray also that they stay away from any roof.