Sunday, December 6, 2009

12/6/09 Daniel 4:30-34 A Humbled King

(Nebuchadnezzar humbled by William Blake d. 1827
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

12/6- Daniel 4:30-34
30 He [Nebuchadnezzar] said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" 31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes." 33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

Calvin Abridged: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built” Here is not open blasphemy, but a claiming of supreme power as if he were God! He boasts of the magnificence of his city as if he wished to raise it giant-like to heaven. By claiming all things as his own, he robs God of all honor. Scholars agree that Semiramis built the city, but Nebuchadnezzar, improving the city, basically erased the credit due to the founder, as many are likely to forget those on whose shoulders we stand. Unless God builds the city the laborers labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). God everywhere says he is the enemy of the proud (Psalm 18:27; Jas. 4:6; 1 Pt. 5:5). We cannot set ourselves up even a little without declaring war on God for all energy and power spring from him. Our life is in his hands; we are nothing and can do nothing except through him. Many times rulers place God somewhere below them and above the people. They think the people are subject to God, but they are exempt.

Thoughts: Daniel had predicted the king would do just this. Daniel had counseled that the king repent and in contrast to relishing in his comfort, security, luxury, and pride to give to the poor. Nebuchadnezzar like many emperors began to think of himself not only as a great king, but as a god. I think of those who really believe they are self-made. I also think of the New Age religion which tells people that they are gods. Nebuchadnezzar was humbled (like Shelley’s Ozimandias- whose kingdom had turned to sand with age), and so all of us are humbled by either the destruction of our little kingdoms or death itself.

Prayer: You alone, O Lord, are worthy of glory, honor, power, and might for you alone have made all things. Our greatest accomplishments would not be possible without you.

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