Daniel 4:28-37 - The Price of a Proud Heart

Dr. Steve Viars March 20, 1999 Daniel 4:28-37

- Well, how was you week?
- was it a good week, or a bad one?
- blessing upon blessing, or trial upon trial?
- How’d things go at work?
- how’d they go at home?
- how are things going in your heart?...in your inner man?

- now let me ask you to think through the events of the week....then lay down next to that a rather unusual question.
- Was God on your side this week?
- Was He for you, or against you?
- Where you in a position where He could bless your efforts, or were you pursuing goals/directions that had to be opposed, or thwarted?
- I’m asking you...in the battles you faced this week, was God on your side, fighting with you, or on the other side, fighting against you?

- you might say, PV, why would you ask such questions....
- the Scripture speaks about a particular area of life....
- where, if we choose the sinful path---God will actually be opposed to us....
- and on the other hand, if we choose the opposite Godly habit, He will give us grace.
- The Scripture says it this way.....God opposes the _________, but He gives grace to the _______.
- now please think about that for a minute.....God being opposed to you....that’s a military term....it could be translated, God being arrayed against you in battle.
- not just that He won’t bless....not just that He won’t be pleased......but that He will actively oppose that kind of person.

- now most of us have learned long ago that are certain kinds of people in our life we don't want opposed to us.
- I remember my neighbor Mikey Sheets, who was older than me and twice my size, pummeling me in the head....and I thought----I shouldn’t have picked a fight with him....
- I also believe you should try to get along with the media----its unwise to pick a fight with people who buy their ink in 55 gallon drums!
- but worse than that or any other illustration we could use is......imagine living in a way that God Himself was arrayed in battle against you.

- what characteristic is it that is so significant to God that He would make such a statement?
- the answer to that question --- Pride.
- The Bible tells us, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

- that leads to an obvious question, doesn’t it?
- friend, how are you doing in your battle with pride?
- all of us fight that battle.....the question is, how are you doing?
- if we had a meter that measured pride or humility....which way would the needle be pointing?
- if you spouse got to answer that question about you, what would he / she say?
- what would your parents, your children, or your co-workers say?
- what was your response like the last time someone tried to tell you something, or confront you about something?
- how did you treat the last waitress who served you at a restaurant?....or the cashier at the store?
- what’s your attitude like toward the authority in your life?
- God is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
- I think most of us would say...and I hope most of us would say....that we have some work to do in this area.
- I guess you could take the position that you’ve completely overcome the sin of pride...but I would need to point out that that statement in and of itself is....proud.
- so I think most of us would say, I have some work to do in that area.....

- well, as always, God’s Word has marvelous and potentially life-changing truths to help us deal with this area of our lives.
- I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Daniel chapter 4.
- you can find the location of the book of Daniel by looking in the Table of contents in the front of your Bible or by finding the big books of Psalms and Proverbs and then continuing to turn to the right through the book of Ecclesiates, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel.

- let me take a moment and let you know where we are in this series.
- today is our ninth week in this study....
- we are approaching half-time.....
- what I mean by that is, Lord willing we plan to look at this very important truth in the latter part of chapter 4 today.
- then we’re going to take two weeks off to have some focused study on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.....
- I’ll be in Florida the week after that, and another pastor will be speaking....so we’ll have three weeks off from the book of Daniel.
- then we’ll come back for the second half of our study....and if you’ve been reading ahead....you know that the material that comes in the latter part of this book is extremely interesting and very unusual....
- we’re not going to get bogged down in all the detail....but we are going to trace some of the important themes regarding prophecy....and what God’s Word tells us about the end times
- especially from the perspective of what that means to the way believers in Christ live their lives today.

- now, today, in the second half of Daniel chapter 4, we can learn about The Price of a Proud Heart.
- read Daniel 4:28-37.

- this morning we’re looking for three principles to help us address the sin of pride.
I. Be on the Lookout for Pride.

- if you’re new to this series, I realize that some of what we’ve just read may not make a lot of sense.
- let’s me try to quickly bring you up to speed on what we’ve been studying.

- the man we’re reading about, Nebuchanezzar, was the king of the Babylon, which at the time these events took place --- the late 500’s BC, was the most powerful nation of earth.
- Nebuchanezzar led his armies to Israel, and they had overtaken Jerusalem.
- their first step was to deport some of the most promising young people, send them back to Babylon, and train them in their culture and beliefs.
- Daniel, along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego were among that group of young people who were deported.
- so this book is about how they continued to life faithfully for God even though they were in a pagan culture....and how God blessed their courage and their faithfulness.

- last week, Nebuchanezzar had a terrible dream....given to him from God which predicted that these events would take place.
- the king told the dream to Daniel.....Daniel interpreted it for the king, and urged him to repent.
- please notice also that this passage is spoken in the first person....in other words, Nebuchanezzar himself is telling the story after the fact......and in so doing, he gives us three principles to help us address the sin of pride.

I. Be on the Lookout for Pride.

- the verses we’ve read this morning make the vision we studied last a whole lot easier to understand....because they fill in the missing piece.
- you may remember that in God’s vision to Nebuchadnezzar, there was this great tree....and all the birds and animals were nourished and blessed by the tree....but then the angelic watcher comes and has the tree cut down.
- and you walk away from that saying...but why?
- what did the tree do?
- or more to the point, what did the person that the tree represents do?

- Nebuchanezzar told us that in verse 30, didn’t he?
- he was walking around the roof of the palace, probably leading a group of his advisors and friends on a stroll overlooking the great city of Babylon....and he says to them....Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?

- now what’s wrong with that?
- Babylon was a great city......
- archeologists and historians tell us that this was a city of two million inhabitants.
- the walls of the city were large enough to have races where the chariots were four abreast.
- 87 feet thick and in places over 300 feet high.

- sometimes we think of these civilizations as being ghost-towns out in the middle of the desert....but that’s not even close to being true.
- this was a mighty city....and Nebuchadnezzar is known historically for his building programs....he’s even the one who commissioned the Great hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, to be built for one of his wives so she wouldn’t miss her homeland.

- Babylon was a great city, but what was wrong about Nebuchanezzar’s statement was what Nebuchanezzar believed about the source....and what Nebuchanezzar believed about the purpose.
- Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?
- that’s pride.
- that’s pride, the exaltation and promotion of self.
- and the simultaneous de-emphasis of God and others.

- in the original languages, the word is translated from words that literally mean lofty, or elevated, or puffed up.
- the International Bible Encyclopedia says, “In relationship to God, pride is haughty self-sufficiency; in relationship to other persons, pride is haughty lack of concern for their well-being.”
- The Illustrated Bible Dictionary says, “Pride refuses to depend on God and be subject to Him, but attributes to self the honor due to Him.  We may say with Aquinas that pride was first revealed when Lucifer attempted to set his throne on high in proud independence of God (Isa. 14:12-14).  The fallen devil (Luke 10:18) instilled the craving to be like gods into Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:5) with the result that man’s entire nature was infected with pride through the fall.”

- see, there was no question about whether Babylon was a beautiful city...the question was whether Nebuchanezzar was going to give God praise and glory for the ability and strength to build the city, or whether he was going to take the credit for himself.
- unfortunately, even though Nebuchadnezzar had had ample opportunities to see the power of God in the previous chapters....
- and even though he had clearly been warned by God in the early part of this chapter.....
- he still allowed himself to be lifted up with pride.

- another way of saying this is that Nebuchanezzar had a wrong view of God, and a wrong view of self, and a wrong view of other people.
- Pride involves all of those things.

- and the beauty of it is......
- Biblical Christianity presents a set of compelling answers to each of those issues.....
1) Who is God?
- He is the sovereign and powerful Creator of the universe......
- He is holy and righteous and true....
- He is the King, the Lord, and the God Shepherd.....
- there is no one like Him in all the universe.....
2) Who is man?
- we are part of God’s creation....but a very unique part.....
- because we were made in God’s image.....
- and we were given a unique purpose....to subdue our creation and bring glory to God....

- those brief statements clear up a lot......we’re not God, but we’re not laboratory rats either.
- we’re not God, but nor are we trees.

- so every day we wake up and we can use these hands to make things and to do good......but at the end of the day when that thing is made.....we should turn and give God the glory for the ability and the strength that He has given.
- or we wake up in the morning and we use these minds to solve problems, or make progress....but all through the process we give God the glory and honor, because what do we have that we didn’t receive?
- understanding who God is, and who we are puts us a long way down the road of overcoming pride.
- the same is true when you through in the issue of other people.....
- Biblical Christianity has an answer for that as well....
- other people aren’t something to be used....they’re human beings to be loved.....
- the question isn’t -- who can I get to serve me, but instead, how can I serve someone else?

- worldly pride seeks to de-emphasize God, elevate self, and use other people.
- Biblical humility seeks to honor God, take the attention off of self, and love and serve other people.

- Even though Nebuchanezzar was taught, and Nebuchanezzar was warned.....in the final analysis, he failed to rid his heart and his life of the sinful disease of pride.
- you and I must be on the lookout for pride.

- a second principle that flows out of these verses is:

II. Understand the Consequences of Pride.

- there are many people in our world who would sharply disagree with what we are saying this morning.
- The Scriptures are very unique in their view of this topic.

- what we’re talking about is clearly the emphasis of the OT.
- but by the time of Jesus Christ.....many had rejected the OT view, and in fact had turned in totally around.

- the Greek world regarded pride as a virtue, and humility as despicable.
- Aristotle’s great souled man was to have a profound regard for his own existence and importance.
- The stoic sage was to exert moral independence and equality with Zeus.

- That’s why it is so significant in the NT, that the Bible writers uniformly sided with the OT view of this topic is stark contrast to the views of the day.
- In Mary’s Magnificat, she said that God scatters those who are proud in the thoughts of their heart (Luke 1:51).
- that’s why its so significant that Jesus Christ presented Himself as the One who was “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
- when Jesus was describing a list of vices that proceed from the evil heart of man in Mark 7.....one of the items on the list was “pride”.

- the point is -- many on the world would say ---- you don't need to work on this area of your life....there’s no consequences here.....in fact pride is a virtue you ought to cultivate.
- well, let’s let Nebuchanezzar have a vote!
- what would he say?

- he would say that the consequences of pride are great.
- pride took him from the elevated position of a human being made in the image of God....to an existence that was literally animal-like.
- did you see the progression in verse 33.....?

1) he was driven from mankind....
2) he ate like an ox....
3) his body was wet with the dew of heaven.....
4) his hair grew like eagle’s feathers....
5) his fingernails were like bird claws....

- many Bible students believe that Nebuchanezzar had to be kept in some sort of iron cage or pen which explains the part of the vision that prophesied that the tree would be cut down, but the stump would remain, but that the stump would be enclosed with a band of iron.

- can you imagine this picture in your mind?
- one minute he’s a successful king with a sharp mind and a proud heart....
- and then according to the text.....the moment those words came out of his mouth.....
- just like, by the way....the judgment Ananias and Saphira received the moment sinful words came out of their mouths....
- the moment those proud words came out of Nebuchanezzar’s proud mouth which was connected to Nebuchanezzar’s proud heart.....
- he faced the consequences for his sin....he looked like, and acted like an animal.

- an interesting report came out this week regarding the prison system in our country.
- we are quickly becoming a country that has the highest percentage of its citizens behind bars as any other country in the world.
- and how often it follows the exact progression we’re seeing in this text.

- a man or a woman refuses believes they can live life by their own rules.
- so they ignore the gift of salvation that is available in and through Christ.
- they ignore the truth of the Word of God.
- and they strike out on their own.....

- Like the person of Psalm 10:4 which says - The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

- but its not long before what started out to be enjoyable pleasures are now becoming sinful habits.
- and that alcohol is becoming harder and harder to control.....
- and that temper is becoming harder and harder to control....
- and those pleasures are becoming harder and harder to control....

- and pretty soon, its an animal-like existence of stealing in order to get those drugs....
- or lying to one person in order to satisfy someone else.....
- and relationships are exploding and life is disintegrating.....
- and you look in the mirror and the picture isn’t that far away from what is described in this passage.

- and often that leads to stepping over the line of the law and invariably that leads to being caught and invariably that leads to being punished.

- and the problem isn’t an unfair society, and the problem isn’t an unjust world, and the problem isn’t a difficult childhood....though all of those things may have a part to play....
- in the final analysis, the problem is a proud heart.
- a heart that elevated self, and de-emphasized God, and used other people.
- and now they’re in a cage of iron, day after day after day.

- of course that same thing can happen without the literal cage.
- your parents have been trying to talk to you about certain things and you haven’t listened....
- in your pride you went against the counsel they’ve given and now you’re in trouble....
- your grades stink, or you’re addicted to a sinful habit.....
- and you may not be in a literal cage, but the consequences of the pride are becoming obvious.

- Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

- Proverbs 29:23 - A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.

- Can I ask you friend, have you made the issue of overcoming pride the priority that it ought to be?
- Have you given this issue the kind of seriousness it warrants in part because of the serious consequences of not doing so?

- now, if this were the end of the story, it would be pretty sad......but once again we’re reminded in this book that God is a God of mercy.
- the third step in this text is to.....

III. Follow the Solution for Pride.

- in these remaining verses, we see several steps that Nebuchanezzar took to deal with this issue in his life.
1) He honored God.
- Read verse 34.

- Friend, I wonder if you might be here today and would need to follow that same course.
- Perhaps in your pride you’ve been ignoring what’s God’s Word says about some aspect of your life.
- you haven’t honored Him as the One who’s dominion is an everlasting dominion.
- perhaps you’ve been operating, at least in that area of your life, in proud opposition to the Word of God.

- whether you’ve had to pay the consequences yet or not, would you be willing to say with Nebuchanezzar.....I want to bless the most high and honor Him who lives forever, for His dominion is an everlasting dominion.
- has pride stopped you from obeying some aspect of the Word of God, and if so would you be willing to deal with that today?

- I wonder how many men and women have allowed pride to stop them from coming to Christ......
- I’m too proud to admit that I’m a sinner.....
- I’m too proud to admit that I can’t get to heaven on my own....
- I’m too proud to admit that I need a Savior.....
- I’m too proud to bow my knee to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

- Friend, hell will be populated with people who were proud....and administered by the Father of pride.
- you don’t want to spend eternity there.

2) Secondly, Nebuchadnezzar put man in his proper place.
- he said in verse 35 - all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing.
- now all throughout this message I’ve been saying that it is a marvelous thing to be made in the image of God, and to be given this purpose of representing Him on the earth as a “dominion-haver”, subduing the creation in submission to Him.

- but many of us have trouble remembering these two things.....
- there is a God....
- and we’re not Him.

- and this passage helps us to de-emphasize our importance in the process and elevate God and others.
- some of us would do well to take a particular idea that we’ve really held onto as absolute truth, and back up and say....now what does God’s world say about this?
- some of us would do well to go back to that person who’s been trying to get us to see something and say.....this time I’m going to be quiet, and listen to what you’re trying to say....and ask questions as a learner.

- by the way, faithful participation in Christian worship can really help is this area.
- every time we come together, we have an opportunity to get to the proper place in line.

[- could conclude with the issue of humility, the example of Christ, and the many in our church family who exemplify humility]

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video