Humbling the proud

Daniel 4.19-37

This note was originally published on Saturday 6 April 2019.

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar.


If you are able, kneel on the floor, and pray, ‘Most High God and Father, in everything I do, may I decrease, so you may increase’ (see John 3.30).


Daniel 4.19-37


Did you know that what happened to Nebuchadnezzar has a name? ‘Boanthropy’ is the condition in which the sufferer believes themselves to be a cow or an ox, and eats grass. For the king of Babylon, it was quite the punishment – yet fitting for a king whose rage was terrifying, who asked the impossible, and who built an enormous statue of gold.

Before you judge him, though, draw a line with ‘proud’ at one end and ‘humble’ at the other. Where do you come?

We cannot know what actually happened, so the TV show The Crown invents an argument between Queen Elizabeth II and Philip on the eve of her coronation in 1953: she refuses to make an exception for him, even though he is her husband, and insists that he kneel before her during the ceremony. She, of course, has not kneeled in homage to anyone since her father died in 1952.

Yet even queens must kneel before the King of heaven – and so must we. We must pay more than lip service to God’s lordship over us, and learn to be humble before the Most High God, lest he humble us (v 37).


Take the words of verse 37 and use them as a prayer, substituting ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ for your own name. Again, you may find it helpful to kneel as you pray those words.