Prideful to Humble: Daniel Study (Part 4)

We saw last month that Nebuchadnezzar was involved in idolatry (with the golden statue he made). King Nebuchadnezzar was a very proud king and thought of himself as omnipotent. Even after God saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace, he slightly praised God, but still didn't refer to him as his God. It can be very easy for us to become prideful when we are successful. We might start taking credit for all of our successes instead of giving credit where credit is due – to God! This month, we will see what God is going to do with Nebuchadnezzar's pride.

While Nebuchadnezzar is addressing the same audience he did in the last chapter, those he wanted to worship his idol, this time he's telling them about the one true God. He also refers to what God has done for him instead of just referring to God as "the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego."

Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream

Even after seeing all the great things God had done through saving Daniel's friends from the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar still pridefully took credit for his good fortune – instead of recognizing that his power and success came from God. Nebuchadnezzar then tells his wise men his most recent dream because he wants help interpreting it. However, they again are unable to interpret his dream, just like we saw in chapter 1. I'm not going to break down his dream and what it means just yet, we'll see Daniel's interpretation in the next section.

Here's Nebuchadnezzar's dream:

One thing I do want to note in his dream is the connection in verse 11 to the Tower of Babel in Genesis. In Genesis 11:4 it says, "Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.'" Human pride has led people to defy God throughout history, and unfortunately, this is still true today.

After hearing Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel was alarmed. He wasn't alarmed because he did not understand the dream, but because he knew what it meant for Nebuchadnezzar's future and now had to tell him. Let's take a look at the meaning behind the dream:

19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! 20 The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, 21 whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived— 22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. 23 And because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him,’ 24 this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, 25 that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. 26 And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, hand your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:19-27)

Daniel explains that the tree in the dream represents Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar's power and might are acknowledged, but the dream takes a turn and shows that he will be driven out by God. The Lord makes it clear that the suffering Nebuchadnezzar will face is to teach him humility. After explaining what is to come for Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel respectfully recommends that he change his actions and start acting in a godly way and repent from his sins. Does Nebuchadnezzar listen and make the change?

We see that a year passes, and Nebuchadnezzar's heart has not changed. He's still taking all the credit for Babylon and what he's built. Since he let his pride win, the punishment laid out in his dream came to fruition. God forced him out of leadership and he became like an ox – eating grass on all fours. This punishment was meant to humble him.

After Nebuchadnezzar's punishment was complete, he finally had a change in heart and turned to God instead of himself – which was God's goal in this punishment. Through Nebuchadnezzar, God was able to show that he can both humble the proud and exalt the humble. Once Nebuchadnezzar's heart was softened and he turned to God, he finally stopped referring to God as "the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego." Now He talks about what God has done for him!

Application to our life

Most, if not all of us, won't have the position of power that Nebuchadnezzar has; however, we can still learn several things from him and his life. Here are three applicable takeaways from this passage:

  1. Our security lies in God, not in our possessions or success
    1. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, when we are successful in whatever areas of our life, it can become really easy to get caught up in that and be prideful. The pride grows over time as you continue to see success. What we end up losing sight of is that these worldly successes aren't guaranteed. Have you ever been so wrapped up in the possessions you have or the successes in your life that you lose sight of God? What happens when those things get taken away from you? God doesn't guarantee worldly success. We need to remember that our security comes from God, not ourselves and what we have, because those can go away in an instant.
  2. Pride degrades a man, but humility lifts him up
    1. Pride and humility are talked about throughout the Bible. Here are a few verses:
James 4:6b, "Therefore it says, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'"
James 4:10 "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you."
Luke 14:11 "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Proverbs 11:2 "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom."
  1. Even the powerful must be humble to serve God
    1. It doesn't matter what authority position you are in – you must still have humility. We are all ultimately under God's authority. God doesn't care if you have worldly power, you still have the same set of rules to follow and are saved by grace just like everyone else.

As we wrap up this blog, I want everyone to take some time to reflect on the many blessings in your own life. Write them down and set aside time to thank God for them. When we remember God is the reason for these blessings, it helps keep our pride in check!

Cornerstone Impact Update

For part of 2024, we’re going through a mini-series: Objections of BRI. Through this series, we will be talking about some of the common objections people give us with Biblically Responsible Investing and our Cornerstone Portfolios. Each month, we’ll talk about an objection and the rebuttal or how we respond when we receive these objections.

We understand that these portfolios aren’t meant for everyone, but we have received some questions about how to talk to clients about Cornerstone without sounding too “churchy”. Last month, we covered our thoughts on this and how you might be able to approach talking to clients about BRI:

BRI Objections - Part 3: Too “churchy”?
We’re going to continue to work through some of the top objections we’ve received since starting our Cornerstone Portfolios in 2020. This month will be a shorter blog, but we still think it’s important to cover it – in case this has been an issue you’ve faced with Biblically Responsible Investing.


Eventide’s CEO, Robin John recently shared insights on the rise of faith-driven investing. He wrote a piece for Green Money Journal about how faith driven investing can impact corporate behavior and the greater good. Check out the full piece here:

Love Your Neighbor with Your Investments
Since the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) finalized its disclosure recommendations last September, experts predict biodiversity and ESG to go mainstream in 2024.

New Cornerstone T-Shirt!

We have a new Cornerstone t-shirt design! You can order one of the new shirts (or one of the old shirts) by filling out the form below:

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West Point, VA
Courtney is SEM's Marketing Manager. She joined SEM full-time in 2016. Outside of SEM, Courtney enjoys hiking with her golden retriever, Mya and volunteering at LifePointe Christian Church.