All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. – Daniel 4:28-33
I don’t know much about Howard Hughes. But the little I know spans a broad range of information. He flew the “Spruce Goose”, a very large airplane made of plywood. Of this aircraft in 1947 Hughes said, “The Hercules was a monumental undertaking. It is the largest aircraft ever built. It is over five stories tall with a wingspan longer than a football field. That’s more than a city block. Now, I put the sweat of my life into this thing. I have my reputation all rolled up in it and I have stated several times that if it’s a failure, I’ll probably leave this country and never come back. And I mean it.”
According to Boeing, “Hughes lifted the giant aircraft 33 feet (10 meters) off the surface of Long Beach (Calif.) Harbor and flew it for one mile (1.6 kilometers), for less than a minute, remaining airborne 70 feet (21 meters) off the water at a speed of 80 mph (128 kph) before landing. The H-4 Hercules never flew again.” That sounds like a failure to me.
Perhaps that is why (the other bit of knowledge I know about Hughes is that toward the end of his life, he refused to cut his toenails and fingernails, hair, and beard – much like that which is described of Nebuchadnezzar.
Whether Hughes ever repented (as we will learn of Nebuchadnezzar) I am not certain. But I do know that outlandish behavior is most obviously connected with a life lived without boundaries, feedback, rebuke, or challenge. They say it’s good to be king. But that’s true only if one is willing to acknowledge the King of kings and order one’s life by values of decency, justice, godliness, and humility. I suspect that these values are not much in demand by kings and lords.
It may be good to be king for limited reasons. It is far better to be one who confesses Jesus as Lord: our Redeemer, Savior, and Sovereign, than to be a king who abandons the ways of God and all prudent self-control.