Who doesn’t love a good story? Especially if the story is about you. Back when people read newspapers, it was exciting to have your story printed so others could read it.
We love to share about the good in our lives and I think this is why so many famous people write their own autobiographies. The beauty of story-telling is you get to include or leave out whatever details you want. If I was having you write about my life, I’d start with all the good stuff, too.
Very rarely do you read a story of someone’s life where they admit how wrong they were, how they screwed it up, or the stupid mistakes they made. We may include bad things that happened to us, but rarely sinful decisions we made ourselves.
In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of the entire world. He had built an incredible kingdom as he looked over it, he said, “Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic spender” (v. 30).
Most kings had scribes who would record the history of their kingdom, but for him, a biography wouldn’t do. Nebuchadnezzar needed to write this with his own. So he penned an autobiography to the entire kingdom.
When you start to read his letter, it feels like he has something important to tell you. It feels like he thought it was way too important to let anyone else write it. He shares a story about a dream. The dream is about him, of course, and shortly after he declares how great he and his city are. Up until this point, this is going exactly how we would expect an autobiography of the greatest king on earth to go.
Then something changes.
What looked like it was going to be a story of the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar turns out to be the story of his weakness. Through the dream, God was revealing everything the king had, the great city of Babylon, his rule, his power, all of it had not been from the king but from God Himself. And God had the power to take it all away, which He did. The king was removed from power and basically went “mad” eating grass and living in the fields like a cow. This went on until Nebuchadnezzar no longer saw himself as the greatest, but rather, God.
The story King Nebuchadnezzar wrote was one of admittance of his great pride and his need for God. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” King Neb’s great fall had brought him to humility and he wanted to share the goodness of God. In his weakness, he had seen his need for the one true King. What King Nebuchadnezzar left in the history books is an incredible story of his brokenness redeemed by a God who loved him so much He gave him mad cow disease.
If I ever have a biography written about me (I won’t), I want it to be about my many failures and the goodness and grace of God. I would want the reader to see not how great I am (I’m not), but how gracious God is! What a gift Nebuchadnezzar’s story must have been to his kingdom at that time, and for us today.