Daniel chapter 4 is the only chapter in the book not written by Daniel. Instead, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon writes his personal testimony. Here Nebuchadnezzar is given another dream, and this time he remembers it. The dream as interpreted by Daniel is a warning for Nebuchadnezzar to humble himself or he will become a beast for seven years. For a time, the king heeds the warning, but old habits are hard to break. While Nebuchadnezzar is in the midst of his egotistical boast, a voice comes from heaven, and the king is stricken with insanity. For seven years, the greatest king on earth is reduced to an animal. Humbled, the king acknowledges the God of heaven and is converted. This is the last reference to Nebuchadnezzar in the Bible.
This was God’s radical intervention. It took seven years as a beast to bring Nebuchadnezzar to his senses. The pride of Nebuchadnezzar had to be broken before he could feel his need for God. As C. S. Lewis stated, “It was through pride that the devil became the devil,” and pride is “the complete anti-God state of mind.” Augustine stated, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” The drastic nature of God’s intervention to rid Nebuchadnezzar of pride reveals how deep-seated it is.
Sin is typically viewed in terms of categories—from the heinous sins of the serial killer to the white lie. Pride would not typically make it to a person’s top-ten list of sins. Yet on God’s list, pride is number one. Proverbs 6:16–19 says, “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”
On God’s top-seven list of sins, pride ranks higher than murder. Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony echoes down to the end of time as a warning to God’s people of the sin of pride and God’s dramatic intervention to cure a proud monarch of pride.