115-105 Daniel Chapter 4
Even though this greeting is sent to the rulers of the empire it is addressed to all the people of the empire. It would have been the rulers of the empires responsibility to proclaim the king’s message to his people. King Nebuchadnezzar and kings of other nations called themselves the king of the earth. This greeting was only to the people of the Babylonian Empire as people from other nations were not worthy in the eyes of his court. The Babylonian Empire was very large and contained many nations of people. From Elam and Media in the north and east to Egypt in the southwest.
In the last chapter we saw that the fourth person in the furnace was called as the son of gods and not the Lord God almighty which Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the Israelite people worshiped. The term “Most High God” here would have referred to Marduk the Babylonian god that Nebuchadnezzar worshiped. All the false gods of the people were considered as everlasting. But the kings under their rule were mortal as all men are.
Daniel as he recorded this event would have identified God Most High as the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the maker of the heavens and the earth and who ruled over all creation. This view is in contrast to that of the king who viewed the Most High God as the god over all the other gods.
It is probable that the last phrase shows the influence of Daniel on the king as the wording is similar to a verse in Psalm. “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.” (Psalm 145:13)
At this time in the life of King Nebuchadnezzar his life was flourishing. He had gained many victories over his enemies. In his time he was a great historical figure and now in this time he was enjoying his life in the palace. The troubles of the world seemed far away and there was peace in his kingdom. Then the king began to have troubling dreams once again. Because of this he fell into depression and this may be a sign of the troubles that lay in the near future.
We again see the king calling upon the wise men of his court to interpret his dream. Some may think that he would have immediately called upon Daniel, as he was the one through whom God used to interpret the dream of Chapter 2. But time has passed now from those days and the wise men of those days have probably died. The wise men of the day were supervised by Daniel and may have been more effective in giving their advice. As a result the king would have been more tolerant and patient in his more mature years and showed more respect for his present wise men of his court. Because of Daniel’s supervision these wise men of the day achieved greater result.
Daniel was also very busy conducting his duties within the empire and may not have been readily available to assist the king. Nebuchadnezzar did not like to wait for his subordinates and if Daniel was not there then he would have summoned those who were. If they failed then he could have Daniel to fall back upon.
We see here that Nebuchadnezzar had learned from the previous experience that the wise men could not interpret the dream without knowing the dream. Even so as they learn the dream that the king had they were unable to discern its meaning. This may be the case as the dream that the king had was without reference in the Babylonian book of dreams that the wise men would have consulted. The other possibility is that they knew the meaning of the dream but lacked the courage to tell the king its meaning. The history of the king showed that if he became angry over the truth of the dream it would cost them their lives.
Either Daniel finished his duties and returned to the palace or King Nebuchadnezzar called him to the palace from wherever he was. Nebuchadnezzar calls attention the Babylonian name of Daniel, “Belteshazzar.” This is significant because the first symbol of his name is Bel which is the name of one of the Babylonian gods. Thus, the king’s reference to the spirit of the holy gods mainly refers to the god Bel. The readers of the Book of Daniel would refer it to the Spirit of God. The king tells Daniel his dream.
King Nebuchadnezzar knew which God Daniel worshiped and served. The king may not have understood Daniel’s God or believed in Him, still he trusted Daniel who worshiped the true God. For this reason King Nebuchadnezzar had full confidence in Daniel to give him the meaning of the dream.
In the ancient times trees were used as good illustrations of royalty. Nebuchadnezzar and the wise men would have recognized that the tree in his dream would have referred to the king. The tree in the king’s dream was of great height and would have given prominence to King Nebuchadnezzar. The fact that the tree reached to the heavens is reminisce to the tower of Babel. (Genesis 11:4) This may also signify that King Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest king of the earth.
The tree of the king’s dream was also the great provider of the people and animals giving food and shelter. This is the way that kings like to be projected throughout the empire. As the provider and protector of the people of his empire.
The taking down of the tree in the king’s dream gives us small wonder that the wise men would not tell the king the meaning of this vision. The details of the vison were complex and would have been difficult to have discern. They may have been able to fully understand but to reveal it to the king would have placed their lives in the balance.
The holy watcher would have been heavenly beings watching over the affairs of mankind. Those of the wise men who were not of the Israelite morality would not have seen the event in relations to moral behavior. False gods of the day were not involved in the morals of men as much as they were involved in how men’s behavior affect them. Daniel would have had the proper interpretation as to how the behavior of men was towards obedience of God’s law.
We must also see here that the holy watcher is not acting on his own behalf but on behalf of the Most High. Daniel in his explanation will have to tell the king why he will have to suffer in his battle with the gods. In that explanation a lesson will be given to the Israelites that they need to be aware of their guilt because of their sins against God.
The call to “cut down” may be a plea to divine helpers or to God in order that the tress would be taken away from the earth. Leaving only the stump of the tree takes away the ability of the tree to give any benefit to the provision and protection of the subjects of the kingdom. The stump will be banded in order to prevent it from splitting. We can see this is a promise from God that the stump will be preserved and will survive. The tree now being with the beast shows a vision of degradation and loss. With the heart being replaced with the heart of a beast means that the ability to reason is now gone. The number of seven shows that the action is of divine nature as the number seven in ancient culture is the perfect number of divine measures.
This decree comes from the holy watchers and is a demand of the Most High is an expression of truth that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the earth. The Most High determines who will rule over the earth and whose rule shall end over the earth.
King Nebuchadnezzar and the readers of this would have believed that the decree came from the Most High of the Gods but the Israelite readers would have recognized the Most High as the God who they served, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
King Nebuchadnezzar now appeals to Daniel to interpret this dream for him, as the wise men of his kingdom were unable to do so. Understanding what the king would have known by the symbolism of the tree he knows that dream concerns him and is anxious to learn its meaning hoping for reassurance. The last dream that Daniel interpreted the king did not come out too badly. But the outcome of this dream was very troubling and the king was afraid.
It was obvious to the king that Daniel knew the meaning of the dream and that it was cause for great concern. He could see that Daniel was upset and was afraid that Daniel would not tell him its meaning and brought even greater fear to King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was a soldier and had faced many trials and even as he feared the worst wanted to know and asked Daniel to state the meaning. The king also let Daniel know that he need not fear the king’s wrath against him. Before disclosure Daniel pointed out that the dream was what the enemies of the king would want themselves to say to him.
The tree represented all that the king could hope for, the greatness of his kingdom. His dream had revealed the he, King Nebuchadnezzar was strong and powerful. That he was the provider of his people in provision and protection. That the fame of the king had reached to the heavens of the gods. The king was revealed as the ruler of the world.
Daniel made it clear to the king that this interpretation was the command of the Most High God by His holy watcher. Nebuchadnezzar may have seen the holy watcher as a minor god but Daniel knew it to be an angel. The people of Babylon would see that it was the gods that were acting against their king and therefore would hold King Nebuchadnezzar blameless of any wrong doing.
King Nebuchadnezzar (the tree) would be cut down but not destroyed, a stump would remain bound in brass and iron to preserve him through this time period until he is restored to his kingdom. But the king would not be able to reside with mankind and their society, he would be as one of the beast of the field and feed upon the grass of the field. He would not have shelter and the dew would fall upon him. And this would be the king’s state until seven times have past.
The number seven as before mentioned is the perfect number representing that this judgment is of perfect divineness. The time of endurance is not measure in days, years or decades but in the good pleasure of the Most High God. Whatever the length of a period it will be a total of seven of them.
Commentators have many interpretations for the band of brass and iron. It could mean the darkness that will fill his spirit or the lack of reason in the throes of madness, or the chains that madmen are bound in, but through it all the king will be protected by divine activity.
This state that the king would find himself was to last till he knew that the heavens do rule. This is a statement to the divine rule of the Most High God but also holds the idea that there is a heavenly kingdom that rules over the earthly kingdoms.
Daniel’s advice to the king is the same advice that we all should take heed to. To repent and turn away from living in the worldly way, to turn away from our adulterous ways of serving the gods of man’s making. To repent and serve the true God of the heavens and the earth. Daniel’s advice is for the king to put away his selfishness and wrong doings and do what is right in the light of the divine law of God. The king show mercy towards the weak and the poor of his kingdom. If the king would change his ways then the coming disturbance of mind that he would suffer might be delayed or might never even happen to him. We do know that our God is faithful to forgive but King Nebuchadnezzar would not repent and turn towards the Lord God.
King Nebuchadnezzar did not follow the call of the Apostle Paul to put off the old man. “That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” (Ephesians 4:22)
The king failed to change his ways and the decree of the Most High was carried out just as He had said. If we do not learn to control the sin in our lives then that sin will become the controlling factor of our life.
In a year’s time King Nebuchadnezzar was proudly exalting himself by the greatness of his kingdom. The king was boasting of his great achievements and the abundance of his possessions. At this time Babylon was at the full measure of its power and influence. The king felt that the palace of his dwelling was worthy of the gods. If we allow pride to rule our lives then soon we will be humbled. (Proverbs 16:18) This is the cause of the judgment of the Lord God. The Pride of life that King Nebuchadnezzar had in himself.
As the king was boasting of his greatness a voice came down from heaven that his rule was over and that he no longer would dwell with men and would not be restored until he learned that God is sovereign over the earth. The king would become as an animal and feed on the grass of the field a far distance from the palace he was accustomed to. This would last until seven times had passed over him. The encouragement was that this judgment would come to an end.
The king’s hair and nails grew unattended and he dwelt in the land as an animal. As he was their king believed to be afflicted by their gods the people left him to his own. None knew how long this affliction would last and would not dare to intervene for fear that once restored he would vent his anger upon them. Perhaps it was the position of Daniel as the master of the wise men of the king’s court that held the kingdom together thus preserving King Nebuchadnezzar’s throne.
Sir Henry Rawlinson wrote of this time period. “For four years the seat of my kingdom in my city — did not rejoice my heart. In all my dominions I did not build a high place of power, the precious treasures of my kingdom I did not lay out. In the worship of Marduk my lord, the joy of my heart in Babylon, the city of my sovereignty, I did not sing his praises and I did not furnish his altars, nor did I clear out the canals.”
“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, What have You done?” Most likely at the end of the seven times the recovery of King Nebuchadnezzar was as sudden as the affliction. In gratitude that he had been restored the king spoke these words in verses 34-35. Daniel knew the God to which the king was praising and for a king that did not know God he gave a good description. King Nebuchadnezzar recognized that it was not he but another that was all powerful.
The king states to the people of Babylon that he has been restored and was back into his role as their king. The king not only stated that he had been restored but that his ability had been increased.
King Nebuchadnezzar gave testimony to the God of heaven and stated that His ways are true and wise. That His judgments are just and correct. Daniel may have had heavy influence and guidance in the conversion of King Nebuchadnezzar. The king now certainly knew that the Most High God was supreme and was able to humble men of their self-pride.