by Wayne Barber
We have been looking in Daniel 3 at the ugly characteristics of the proud man. We've seen his arrogance in that a proud man wants to be seen; and we looked at his audacity in that a proud man wants to be served. Now let's now look at the aggression of the proud. They cannot stand those who will not bow to them!
Nebuchadnezzar is not the only proud person found in the Book of Daniel. He had some Chaldeans around him who were his main advisors and were jealous people with an axe to grind! When Nebuchadnezzar appointed Daniel's three friends-whose pagan names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego-to head up the administration for the Province of Babylon, this created tremendous jealousy among those in the system. "For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews" (v. 3:8).
The translation "certain charges" does not really describe the hostile intention of these people. The word means "devour, accuse, tear into pieces." These accusers were motivated by hateful jealousy! They couldn't stand the fact that these Jewish captives were put in responsible positions. People that were in captivity were not supposed to be elevated to any position of authority. That just wasn't done! Instead they were to be kept in servant's roles.
But the king had shown great favor to these young men because he saw character in them. We see in Daniel 1:20 that "he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm," so at Daniel's request Nebuchadnezzar put them into high administrative positions (see 2:49). The Chaldeans' accusation was carefully framed to make these young men look bad. But it was really a rebuke to the king for having appointed them in the first place.
First they reminded him of the command he had given: "You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. "But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire" (vv. 10-11). These wicked men are out for vengeance towards these young men who love their God. Proud people work hard to put God's people who live under His authority into their place!
Listen to the silent rebuke to what the king had done in appointing these young men: "There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up" (3:12). (Daniel was not included, perhaps because he was appointed to a higher office and might not have been required to attend the worship of the statue.) They had to attach personal responsibility to the king so that he would feel the need to act quickly to save his own reputation. "[They] have disregarded you." In other words, they have disobeyed you.
These jealous officials drove their point home by making it personal to the king: to challenge Nebuchadnezzar's gods was to challenge Nebuchadnezzar himself! And if these three young men were seen to be insubordinate, that would weaken the king himself. You can see how this would incite the king. And it worked! Proud people cannot stand for others to be recognized while they themselves are not. They will be aggressive in their seeking to do harm to those who are a threat to them. Pride is an ugly thing isn't it?
But, you see, this is what we are all like when we choose not to bow before the Lordship of Christ in our lives. The sad thing is that it is rampant in churches everywhere.
But in our next article, we will see how God protects those who love Him!
Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.