Poor in Spirit

Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”—Daniel 4:33-35 (NIV)

I can only imagine what Nebuchadnezzar must have looked and felt like during those seven years. Although I do love rice, which belongs to the grass family, I could never eat grass, let alone eat it for seven years! Some may view this punishment as odd or drastic or even humorous, but God intentionally wrote Nebuchadnezzar’s story to point us to the gospel message of our restoration.

We serve a God who is fully gracious but also perfectly just. He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). However, He is also filled with an incomprehensible love for His creation. Out of that love, He will take great measures to humble the proud who do not acknowledge their need for God, and that is exactly what he did with Nebuchadnezzar. He made the most powerful man on earth of that time like an animal in order to rid him of all pride.

We see Jesus proclaim this truth in many of His teachings, even at the very beginning of His ministry. Jesus began his earthly ministry with the Sermon on the Mount where He taught on the Beatitudes—the very first one being, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 NIV). Living poor in spirit is the exact opposite of living in pride. In Greek, the word “poor” means to be utterly destitute and helpless. Being poor in spirit means we realize our spiritual brokenness and inability to break our bondage to sin, and as a result, we humble ourselves before our Savior as we seek to live in light of the freedom He has so graciously given us.

Nebuchadnezzar became physically poor before he acknowledged his spiritual poverty. After being driven to his knees and ripped of his honor, his power, and his sanity, Nebuchadnezzar finally realized his spiritual destitution and need for God. When he raised his eyes toward heaven, he was restored; and afterwards, he immediately began to praise the Most High. What a beautiful picture of the gospel: repentance leading to redemption! Where beforehand Nebuchadnezzar looked at himself, at his kingdom, and at his glory, he now looked to the sovereign, all-powerful, and supremely glorious God. Nebuchadnezzar’s realization of God’s might resulted in a humbling awe and a passionate praise for the one who lives forever, and as a result, we see the Lord redeem Nebuchadnezzar.

I pray my response to God’s power and strength would be like that of Nebuchadnezzar—one of awe and wonder resulting in praise and surrender! May we live in poorness of spirit and constantly proclaim the grace and authority of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

DIG: What is the significance behind Nebuchadnezzar being restored after looking up to the Lord?

DISCOVER: How can we, like Nebuchadnezzar, look up and praise the Lord in a true state of awe and wonder?

DO: Make an effort to do whatever you answered in the Discover section today!