Daniel Chapter 4

Daniel 4:1-18

Perhaps some 15 years later, around 570 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar has a second dream and sends out a message to his vast kingdom. His decree is sent in various languages (Daniel 4:1) as he rules over a number of nations. The greeting of “peace” is common to such proclamations.

In Daniel 4:2-3, it appears that Nebuchadnezzar has learned a lesson and is humbled in his proclamation of the greatness of “the Most High God” and the things God has done for Nebuchadnezzar. This is significant, as most rulers in the heathen world invoked the name of their idolatrous gods on such occasions. The Cyrus cylinder has the following inscription.

“I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, legitimate king… Marduk, the great lord, a protector of his people, beheld with pleasure Cyrus’ good deeds…”

The cylinder dates from the 6th century BC and was discovered in the ruins of Babylon (modern Iraq) in 1879. It is now in the British Museum. It was created following the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC when the Neo-Babylonian Empire was invaded by Cyrus and incorporated into his Persian Empire.

In his proclamation, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges that God’s kingdom is everlasting, and not subject to the frailties of men.

Daniel 4:4-9

In these verses, the king describes the events that transpired when he woke from his dream. He called in various wise men, astrologers, Chaldeans, magicians, etc., and told them the dream and asked them to interpret the dream for him. We don’t know why he told them the dream as opposed to his first dream when he asked them to tell him both the dream and the interpretation. It is likely that he understood their limitations. And they very likely recognized their own limitations, as they were nearly put to death the last time they were told to interpret the king’s dream.

But reliable Daniel came up with the solution. Notice that Nebuchadnezzar referred to Daniel by his Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, which was given to him in honor of the king’s god Bel. Nebuchadnezzar has not been completely cured of his idolatry, but he seems to recognize that Daniel’s God is the greatest of all.

Daniel 4:10-12

The dream was of an enormous tree that filled the earth with its branches reaching up into the heavens. It was pleasant to the eyes, had an abundance of fruit for all to eat, animals found shelter under it, and birds nested in its branches.

Daniel 4:13-14

Then an angelic watcher came from heaven and ordered the tree to be cut down with nothing left for those who ate from it or found shelter. This appears to be a judgment from God.

Daniel 4:15-16

The symbol of the stump and roots being left indicate that this kingdom will remain, with the suggestion that it will grow again. The being referred to in the dream will live as a beast for seven seasons. The intimation is that the roots will sprout and grow again.

This image is seen again with reference to the Davidic lineage and the coming of Christ. We know that the Davidic line of kings was cut off with the death of Coniah. Although there were future kings in Judah, none were from the lineage of David until the coming of Christ. “Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah'" (Jeremiah 22:13).

"Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump" (Isaiah 6:13) In various scriptures, Christ is depicted as springing forth from roots in the ground. “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1, see also Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 25:3)

Daniel 4:17-18

At the conclusion of the king’s dream, the “watcher” or angel from heaven revealed the purpose of the dream — to let all men know that the God of heaven rules over all, and has the power to set over kingdoms even the lowliest of men. It is possible that Nebuchadnezzar had some understanding of the dream, but he wanted a “divine” interpretation.

Daniel 4:19

Daniel was troubled about the dream, knowing that it didn’t bring good news for the king. He had seen the king’s anger in years past and possibly did not want to break the bad news to him. But Nebuchadnezzar assured him that he would be safe.

It would seem that Daniel is trying to soften the bad news by wishing the dream concerned Nebuchadnezzar’s enemies than the king himself.

Daniel 4:20-22

Daniel breaks the news to the king — “You are the man.” This reminds us of what Nathan the prophet told David when confronting David concerning his adultery with Bathsheba and the resulting murder of her husband Uriah: “Nathan then said to David, ‘You are the man’” (II Samuel 12:7).

Daniel 4:23-27

Nebuchadnezzar would be deprived of his throne, and suffer from some mental illness that would cause him to live like a wild beast, even eating grass for food. This would last for seven seasons. “Seasons” is not defined, but the general consensus among scholars is that this represented seven years. His mental state is what is known as lycanthropy, as the one suffering from this disorder imagines himself to be changed into an animal.

Daniel then admonishes the king to repent, lead a righteous life, and show mercy to the poor. It seems as though Nebuchadnezzar, while acknowledging the supremacy of Daniel’s God, was not living by God’s standards.

Daniel 4:28-33

Sometimes people have to learn lessons the hard way, and so it was with Nebuchadnezzar. A year later, he was walking around his palace and congratulating himself orally on his accomplishments and his majestic position.

While he was speaking, "While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.'

And, sure enough, Nebuchadnezzar immediately became like a wild animal. As noted earlier, sometimes we are slow to learn important lessons.

Daniel 4:34-37

After the seven seasons of living as an animal had passed, his mind was restored to him, as well as his honor, his throne, and his kingdom.

"At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride" (Daniel 4:36-37).

Lesson learned!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email