Learning Humility the Hard Way

Daniel 4

Jerry A Collins




*               Why is it so hard to be humble?

*               Is humility the key to serving God?

*               What makes pride such a sin in Gods eyes?


It is about pride that the Bible differs most sharply with the world. The world may agree that theft, murder, discrimination, and drunkenness are wrong. Unbelievers may even admit such vices. But you will never hear an unbeliever say his sin was pride! You have never heard the world declare pride to be an evil. TV programs, movies, books, magazines or classrooms all promote pride as a virtue. For instance, in Websters pride is defined as having or displaying excessive self-esteem and having proper self-respect. It also defines humility as having or showing a low estimate of ones importance. Crucial to understanding the worlds thinking here is noticing that in our world pride can be a virtue while humility can be detrimental. In the Bible, just the opposite is true! We will discover this to be true from the lessons we learn in Daniel 4. Humility is the path toward God and because of the way we think about humility, we often have to learn about humility the hard way. Pride and humility in the life of king Neb will teach us the necessity of humility in our own lives as a virtue that invites Gods favor in our lives.


Humility sees all value, virtue, power and glory beginning and ending with God. Humble people focus on their sin. Prideful people focus on their accomplishments. Here we have a statement, literally a decree of King Neb in the form of a public confession. But this was something he came to learn and understand it was not his by nature and neither is it ours by nature.

1-3 Written by King Neb this was included here by Daniel 10 years after chapter 3. It is written to let everyone knowthat is to all peoples, nations and languages that live on the earth. He is saying this to all of those conquered by his kingdom and living in his empire. He wishes that they prosper. He is a reformed man. He is sharing the secret of his new life from his throne. That Gods kingdom is everlasting! There has been an amazing transformation in the life of this king. (1) He started in unbelief. (2) Then progressed to belief that God exists 2:47. (3) That God is a God of revelation 2:47. (4) That God is involved in the lives of His people 3:28; 4:3. (5) That God is sovereign over an everlasting kingdom 4:3. (6) That you come to God in humility not pridefaith not works 4:37. He was not born with this knowledge and neither is anyone else. When it comes, it is because God has been at work in a receptive heart.

4 This is where he had started out from. A proverbial fat-cat. Isnt this what those who have not received the kingdom of God want and rest in? He is at ease and with his guardshis servantshis slaveshis power and his wealth.

5 He has another dream. God has spoken like this before to Neb and others. When it seems that Neb is invinciblethat noone can get near himthat God pierces all the trappings of Nebs power and gets into the palace thru a dream. God gets Nebs attention this way. No earthly power is a match for God. God has no rivals. He has no competitors. God will accomplish His purpose and plans and noone will stop Him.

6-7 He gives orders and commands that the wise men give him an interpretation. See the power he has. The self-importance embracing him. Yet they could not help him just as before. The difference is that they admit it now. So everything is set up for Daniels entrance and Gods dealings.

8 Daniel still carries the name Neb gave to him, Belteshazzer. A name that still invokes the power of Nebs gods. Daniels God is now included as one of the powerful gods in Nebs thinking. He still has much to learn. The most important lesson is humility.

9-18 Neb relates the dream to Daniel. A dream about a tree. A large tree with leaves and fruit very beautiful and beasts and birds live under it. A holy one from heaven came and chopped it down. (1) Chopped it down and cut off it branches. (2) Left stump and roots and placed iron band around it. (3) Neb changed into beast eating grass for 7 yrs. (4) In order that the living may know Most High ruler over mankind. And Neb requests Daniel to interpret it for him.


Humility knows that God is the source of all that we neednot our job or our connections or our personality or our bank accounts or our reputation or our good looks or our authority. The world stresses pride because it works in this life. Humility succeeds in the next life.

19 Daniels heart goes out to Neb. The one who had exiled him and took him away from his own country. Instead of self-pity or anger he is appalled and alarmed by what he saw.

21-24 Neb is the tree. The chopping etc.,. are all things that are going to happen to King Neb. You are the man and you will live like an animal.

25 Until he realizes the Most High rules over mankind. God had raised Neb to power but he ignored God. Pride does that. There is a mental illness called zoanthropya person thinks of himself as an animal and acts like one.

26 However this judgment is not the end because a stump of his kingdom preserved until he recognizes God.

27 Daniels advice? (1) Repent. (2) Righteous deeds. (3) Mercy to poor. Same call there is today for us. Repentance always prerequisite for humility.

28-30 Neb models the essence of human pride. Ignoring warning signs just like we do he continues in his ways for 12 more months. 1 year! What does this say about God? How do we use the pauses God gives to us in life? Why retreats are so significant. We create pauses to reflect and remember and renew. After surveying a pastors life for a week, Dr. Hendricks said I have identified your problem. You do not have enough think time scheduled in your life. Neb is given a year to consider 3 major decisions and in a moment he makes 3 major mistakes. (1) I have built it. (2) By my mighty power. (3) For the glory of my majesty. He had not built it but slaves and detainees had. Gad had given him his power 2:37. There is only one king and He has no rivals on earth vs 25. If only the king had listened to one of his subjects.

31-33 Judgment comes while these words are in his mouth. Most powerful man on earth now insane. Possibly placed ion royal gardens and hid from public during period. His power and greed now reflected in his image as an animal. Jesus said everyone who exalts self will be humbled. Humbles self will be exalted.



Lifting his eyes to heavenan acknowledgment of God he says 4 things. (1) God lives forever. (2) God has sovereign authority. (3) Gods plans will be accomplished. (4) God is answerable to noone. The King of heaven now becomes the object of His gaze not himself. Not his power. Not his position. The key for serving God is humility not pride. Pride is never good in the Bible. Humility is always good in the Bible. Pride is root of all evil. Humility the root of all good.

(1) It is simply mad to live as if God did not exist.

(2) God can humble us if he chooses but would rather we humble ourselves.

(3) God spoke this lesson thru a dream to Neb but today to us in His Word that must dwell in us richly.

(4) As long as you are proud you cannot know God.

(5) Dont be proud of your children, employees or team. Take pleasure in pleasing others and you can admire what God has done in others but affirming that others have done something apart from God is sin.

(6) Humility sees people as distributors or channels rather than sources of the glory of God.