For thawed-out Thursdays. First posted in Jan 2008…
How should we attain humility? Determine to think low thoughts of yourself? You’d be defeated before you began. Self-deprecation is still self-deprecation. No, to be humble we need to be humbled.
Daniel 4 gives us a great picture of this. Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man in the world, is humbled by the triune God who is ‘able to humble’ ‘those who walk in pride.’ (Dan 4:37).
As a young(ish) Australian male I know a little something about walking in pride. What can I learn from Daniel 4 about humility?
First, the hero of the piece, Daniel, accomplishes his work only in the power of the Holy Spirit.
“I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you.” Dan 4:9 (LXX has ‘Holy Spirit of God’ – translating the plural ‘gods’ as elsewhere in Scripture)
“None of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.” Dan 4:18. See also 5:11,14 (LXX translates them all as Holy Spirit of God)
Without the Spirit, Daniel has nothing to offer. With the Spirit, Daniel is wiser than the wisest men on earth.
Second, the promised King of God’s Kingdom is described as the Lowliest of Men.
“the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes and sets over them the Lowliest of men.” (Dan 4:17)
In the great inversion of all our human expectations, God’s choice for King is not simply a lowly man, but the Lowliest of men. The King of all kings is the One who says “I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matt 11:29) How can Nebuchadnezzar exalt himself when the Chosen One of the Most High is the Servant of all?
Third, Nebuchadnezzar learns humility when he worships the Most High God:
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towards heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honoured and glorified Him Who lives for ever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No-one can hold back His hand or say to him: “What have you done?” 36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honour and splendour were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom.
With his eyes turned upwards, Nebuchadnezzar praises Him Who lives forever. The sovereign glory of the Omnipotent Father draws out of him awed worship. I’m told (and I can believe it) that the Grand Canyon will take your breath away – no-one stands on the rim with high thoughts of themselves. And no-one can confess the majesty of our Father and not be correspondingly humbled in the process.
So how do I fight pride? The doctrine of the trinity of course. I need to know that anything I have of worth in God’s service is a gift of the Spirit – “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor 4:7).
I need to know that the Lord of Glory is Himself the Lowliest of men. His glory is His service. So how can I exalt myself above Christ?
I need to know that the Most High Father is awe-inspiring in His heavenly power. As I worship Him I find a grateful ‘nothingness’ by comparison which is, at that very moment, my restoration to honour.
To be enfolded in the life of these Three is to be well and truly humbled.