“At the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven,
and my understanding returned to me” (Daniel 4:34, NKJV).
Nebuchadnezzar was a great king, but like so many of us, he thought it was all about him. As a result, God humbled him in an amazing way—driving him from the palace to live with the beasts for seven years until, at last, he “lifted [his] eyes to heaven, and [his] understanding returned to [him].”
I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to understand things from God’s point of view without first having to endure such a drastic experience. And yet, when we fail to lift our eyes to heaven and look to God for wisdom and understanding and direction, we truly are no more than beasts who go about our lives with nothing more than the desire to fill our stomachs and meet our other physical needs so we might continue to exist from one day to the next until our time on earth is done. How pitiful and purposeless an existence!
And that, of course, is exactly what God wanted Nebuchadnezzar to see. Whether a king or a pauper (or anything in between), when we fail to look to the heavens for our strength and understanding, we elevate ourselves to the position of god, and we fail every time, at everything we do.
The psalmist understood this. In Psalm 8:4-5 he wrote, “What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.” He humbly recognized the frailty and futility of humanity apart from God, and marveled at the fact that the very Creator of the universe had elevated human beings above the rest of His creation, only slightly lower than the angels themselves. He ended that Psalm by proclaiming, “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” (verse 9), confirming his assertion that man was honored only because the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God had made him so.
May we be like the psalmist who readily recognized our need to lift our eyes to heaven if ever we are to understand our purpose on earth, rather than the haughty king who had to endure seven years with the beasts of the field before finally acknowledging that great truth!