Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
The first thing to note is that it appears that it is Nebuchadnezzar who is now doing the writing! It is the ONLY chapter of the Bible written by a Gentile king; be it by his hand or the hand of Daniel we do not know. It may have only been a decree that Daniel is quoting verbatim, but Nebuchadnezzar’s words.
I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
Something has obviously changed in this man’s life – “What about the life that’s showing I’m undergoing the change?” – Steven Curtis Chapman.
How great are his signs! How mighty are his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
This is being said by the most powerful ruler on the earth at that time! What a contrast to chapter 3 where Neb’s image of gold suggested that his was an everlasting kingdom; a total misunderstanding of his previous dream as interpreted by Daniel of a statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron and iron with clay mix. This most likely is written by the hand of Daniel by translating what Nebuchadnezzar says in the aftermath of these events.
I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
On the surface he was flourishing – like so many in this world, thinking that they have it all, not aware that it can all disappear like that.
“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, the ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, what shall I do, because I have no room where to store my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee. Then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21; Matthew 6:19-21)
How challenging is Daniel 4:4 when compared to Luke 12:16-21. What does it mean to “lay up treasures? It does not mean to be foolish and squander. It does not mean to be fruitful. It does not mean to preserve for today but it does mean the future is not in one’s possessions.
I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
God has a way of getting our attention. Even the hardest, most unreachable people in our eyes are never beyond the reach of God. I suspect that Daniel had been praying for his king and friend for some time, believing that God was able to get through to him. If there is no god why do so many atheist, agnostics, cynics, and politically correct societies spend so much time trying to disprove him by their statements, actions, writings, and positions?
Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
Daniel was well known to the king by now, so why not just call him? I think that Neb realized this dream was not good and wanted to hear a sugar coated interpretation rather than the truth. We see exactly the same with Ahab, king of Israel in 1 Kings 22:6-8 “Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. And Jehoshaphat
said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides these 400 men, that we might inquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat (King of Judah), There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” So the reason that Ahab didn’t ask is basically because he told the truth – and sometimes the truth is hard to take! I think that is why king Nebuchadnezzar didn’t first call Daniel.
This is why we often go to the wrong places for advice or sympathy. The “Oh woe is me” syndrome, but don’t tell me it is my fault. Just give me some more of my self!
Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
This tells a story! In chapter two the Chaldeans were straight with their ‘dummies guide to interpreting dreams’. This is what they were famous for as we mentioned in chapter two. And this time the king even tells them the dream so it should be easy for them – but then again, they have had their fingers burnt by a certain Daniel too many times by now; even if they did interpret the dream, Daniel was bound to come along and tell them they’d got it wrong! They just were not going to take that chance. Notice they ‘did not make known’ not ‘were not able’. It appears that they didn’t even try!
But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,
So finally king Neb gives up and accepts the inevitable. But who does Neb say came in? Aha moment – DANIEL! – that is his Hebrew name, yet king Neb chooses to use this in telling us the history of these events, adding his Babylonian name just in case anyone else didn’t know who Daniel was. How amazing that after all this time in Babylon (Daniel would have been about 50 years old by now), with so much pressure to blend into their culture (when in Rome do as they do ‘syndrome’) that Daniel retains his Jewish identity and the name that glorifies his God. But also not that Nebuchadnezzar still confesses his god by saying “according to the name of my god”; not the God with whom by now he was well aware.
O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. Neb still gave credit to his gods…
This is an interesting verse because Nebuchadnezzar informs us that Daniel is ‘chief of the Magi’. Now the Magi [Bethlehem? Christmas Maji?] were essentially a Persian religious sect specializing in the mystical; so what was Daniel doing in charge of them? The Magi are a tribe that settled in Mede to the east of Babylon; i.e. Medo-Persia.
We will find out in chapter 6 that it was not something that was happily accepted by some of his contemporaries; but it appears that Daniel had converted this group (Tribe of the Magi) and told them about the prophecies regarding the coming Jewish Messiah. How do we know this? Because just over 500 years later, a group of these Magi travelled for miles across the middle eastern deserts to Israel to celebrate the birth of a baby that had been born King of the Jews! These Magi didn’t go to the stable but to Joseph and Mary’s house in Nazareth – we have been duped by tradition into thinking that there were 3 wise men, or 3 kings and they went to the stable. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! [Mark 7:13].
Also in this verse we have confirmed that king Neb knew that Daniel could and would be able to interpret the dream. What a testimony Daniel has: ‘no secret troubleth thee’, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)
The Dream – Daniel 4:10-17
10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
16 Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
So Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel to interpret the dream to him, and reiterates that the best of Babylon were unable to answer. It is interesting to note that even before Daniel has spoken on this occasion, Nebuchadnezzar concedes that ‘the spirit of the holy gods’ is in Daniel. Obviously he remembers the events of chapter two but has forgotten or refuses to admit he acknowledge “the God of Daniel”.