That’s what the ancient king Nebuchadnezzar said during the days of Israel’s captivity. I am and there is no one beside me. In his heart, he really thought he was all that and more. Daniel 4 shares his story of how he fell into a huge pride issue. At the beginning of his story he says that he was at home in his palace, contented and prosperous. Another translation reads that he was at rest in his house and flourishing in his palace.
Babylon was the city he lived in. Though he did not build the city from scratch, he did have a hand in making it the famous city it became. According ancient Greek historian Herodotus, he claimed the outer walls of the city to be 56 miles long, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high. The inner walls of the city weren’t quite as thick, but weren’t any weaker than the outer walls. Because the Euphrates River ran right through the city, there was plenty of water for growing crops and gardening as well as, well, whatever it was needed for. The city was also surrounded by a rather big moat that served as another means of protecting the city from outsiders.
Nebuchadnezzar built the hanging gardens for his wife and built a large array of temples, streets, palaces and walls. Somehow, they were able to haul water from the river to the top of the hanging gardens. The gardens probably weren’t actually hanging as one would think right away. The word hanging comes from another word that means hanging and overhanging. The idea is that a rather large structure to imitate a mountain was built as raised beds to allow for not just flowering plants but also trees to be planted.
From this, we can see why Nebuchadnezzar would be sitting in his palace, flourishing in the comfort of his Babylon. It was beautiful. No unwanted people could get in. It has also been said that Babylon was the most beautiful city in its day. There was not another city like it. No wonder Nebuchadnezzar was so full of pride and was as comfortable as he was.
He said, “I am and there is none beside me.” He looked at everything that had been built in Babylon and took credit for it all. He soon learned that there is One above him and that this One would make sure he recognized that truth.
When we get full of pride, it is really, very hard to see and acknowledge that we have it. Pride wants to lift itself up. Pride says I am better than you. Pride will tear someone down in order to look good. When we get puffed up, we put things out of perspective. The Bible teaches that pride will go before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. In other words, pride does exactly opposite of what we think it does.
Jesus said that we are to humble ourselves. We ask Him to make us humble, but that’s just not biblical. He says we are to make ourselves humble. He also said if we want to be great in the kingdom of God, we need to learn to be the servant of all. That’s humility. That’s the opposite of pride. That’s also love.