Before I say anything, I need to apologize for vanishing these last couple of weeks. What with the holidays and Passion last week, I found myself a little all over the place. It was difficult for me to find time to write. I’ve been more than inconsistent lately. I’m working on that.
I love the story of Daniel. Every now and again, I find myself going back to it and discovering key moments where Daniel demonstrates great faith and trust in his God. Of the people in the Old Testament, I consider Daniel to be one of the most incredible men of God.
After he, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) became key members in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court, the king sent out a frustrated decree that called for the astrologers and wise men to come an interpret his dream. Anyone who interpreted his dream falsely, however, would be executed. So, there was a catch. The interpreter had to be able to interpret the dream without Nebuchadnezzar even relaying the dream to his advisers. This task, of course, was impossible, and the king revealed his anger by issuing an executive order that all of the wise men be killed.
Daniel and his friends were a part of that group.
Now, when the commander of the king’s guard came to carry out the order, Daniel was able to buy them some time. Daniel immediately went to his friends, and he did not begin plotting or scheming. Without hesitating, Daniel went to the God of heaven and begged for mercy so that he might be able to interpret the dream and satisfy the king’s requirement. And without hesitating, God heard Daniel’s plea by giving him a vision that night as he slept. Again without hesitating, Daniel and his comrades gave glory to God.
Daniel demonstrated his fearlessness by going before the king, prepared to interpret the dream of an angry man who was prepared to slaughter several people over this troubling vision. Now, Daniel had the fullest confidence that God had indeed provided a clear, accurate vision and interpretation of the dream. Yet, he went before the king in absolute humility with a reply that always shocks me when I read it.
Daniel replied, “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.”
Daniel could have entered the king’s court in a fervor as he attempted to save the lives of himself and all of the other wise men of Babylon. He remains calm and cool, though, and he does not fail to acknowledge the power and role of God in his story. When Daniel speaks to the king, he does not even mention his own name. He not only puts God ahead of himself (which seems totally logical), he also puts the Nebuchadnezzar ahead of himself when he says that God revealed the future to him even though it was Daniel who was about to provide the interpretation.
Daniel remained humble even though God was using him and would continue to use him in an amazing way. He always put God above himself. He recognized His sovereignty and never shied away from faithfulness in his relationship with God even when it threatened his life.
Daniel’s reaction to constantly understand his relationship between God’s sovereignty and his subservience demonstrates the grip the Daniel had on his pride.
In the church, the sin of pride is usually a slippery thing. It often evades detection, and it is usually left out during those moments of confession. But if we look at the life of Daniel, we see that he took credit for nothing. He gave God glory in moments where we would expect him to take at least a little bit of credit. Instead, he constantly lowers himself and demonstrates full humility.
Human nature automatically rebels against humility. At least, it never goes to the lengths that Daniel goes to in order to ensure that others get recognition. How often does the Christian forget the temptation of pride? It creeps in and attempts to steal glory from God. It makes the life of the individual just that – the life of the individual. Pride revels in its successes and belittles the achievements of others. Even if it is not an attitude that is overt or outspoken, it can be an inward attitude that deters the health of the spirit.
The humility of Daniel not only strove to highlight the importance and magnificence of God, it put itself below the king even when God had revealed the interpretation of the dream to Daniel. Even if glory-seeking may not seem apparent, how often does the inward attitude of pride take over our inner thoughts? It is a battle that needs to be recognized and fought.