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Daniel 4 study

Daniel Chapter 4
Da4:1 ¶ Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
Da4:2 I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
Da4:3 How great [are] his signs! and how mighty [are] his wonders! his kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion [is] from generation to generation.
Da4:4 ¶ I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
Da4:5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
Da4:6 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.
Da4:7 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.
Da4:8 ¶ 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],
Da4:9 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.
Da4:10 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.
Da4:11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
Da4:12 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.
Da4:13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
Da4:14 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:
Da4:15 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:
Da4:16 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.
Da4:17 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.
Da4:18 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.
Da4:19 ¶ Then Daniel, whose name [was] Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
Da4:20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
Da4:21 Whose leaves [were] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it [was] meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
Da4:22 It [is] thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
Da4:23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him;
Da4:24 This [is] the interpretation, O king, and this [is] the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
Da4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
Da4:26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
Da4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Da4:28 ¶ All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
Da4:29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
Da4:30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
Da4:31 While the word [was] in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, [saying], O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
Da4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling [shall be] with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
Da4:33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ [feathers], and his nails like birds’ [claws].
Da4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation:
Da4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Da4:36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
Da4:37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works [are] truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
Daniel 4 – The fall and rise of Nebuchadnezzar
At first glance, the scenario of this Chapter took place just after “the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” when they were miraculously delivered from the burning, fiery furnace. The king was so impressed with the deliverance, that he immediately made “a decree” that all his kingdom reverence the God of the Hebrews. That decree completely countermanded his  order to worship the golden image that he had gone to so much trouble and expense to set up. His decree, in effect, destroyed the image just as the “stone” (Daniel 2:34, 35, 45) had done in his dream so many years before! Whether or not he permitted the golden image to remain is pure speculation, but it seems possible he could have had it melted down in the very furnace that he had cast the three Hebrews.
That scenario exemplifies just how God will win in the great controversy between good and evil during the final stage of earth’s history during the “feet” (or toe) stage of Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Daniel 2:33, 34, 41, 42). At that time another “image” will be set up and all will be required to “worship the image” or be “killed“. The “patience” of God’s “saints“, who will have to endure a worldwide economic boycott, will be tried to the utmost for refusing to accept the beast’s “mark” (Revelation 13:15-17). Nevertheless, because they will “Keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12; also 12:17) like the three Hebrews, “the beast” and the “false prophet” will finally be “cast alive into a like of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20). Then, says the Lord: “every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11).
We are confronted with various diseases, among them mental and psychological illnesses. Depression has become a specific problem in our days. In Daniel 4 we read about King Nebuchadnezzar for the last time, and he is suffering from a mental disease [Boanthropy].
The Aramaic text begins in Daniel 3:31 while in English versions that Daniel 3:31 is Daniel 4:1. The English verse numbering will be used.
Chapter 4:1-3 forms the preface with 4-18 being the dream. These verses are Nebuchadnezzar’s personal testimony of God’s love and patient persistence with a heathen king. This is the only part of the Old Testament written by a non-Hebrew.
Nebuchadnezzar and the Tree of Doom
We looked last time at Nebuchadnezzar and the fiery furnace. You may remember that the king gave everyone one of two options – bow down before a 90 foot image he had set up or be placed in a furnace and be burnt alive. Which to choose? This study is on Nebuchadnezzar and the tree of doom. The lessons given in this Chapter are universal – they apply to Christian and non Christian alike. They involve the heart and desire of man verses the heart and desire of God.
We have seen that in the first three Chapters of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar came to an increasing appreciation of the greatness of God. In this Chapter, he learned that God is sovereign over kings as well as kingdoms (cf. Chapter 1). As the head of Gentile power, Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling probably has typical significance suggesting the final overthrow of Gentile world dominion by the smiting stone: Jesus Christ (Daniel 2:35; Daniel 2:44-45). However, the main lesson of the Chapter is the sovereignty of God over the greatest human sovereign in the world (cf. Daniel 4:17-18; Daniel 4:22; Daniel 4:24-26; Daniel 4:30-32; Daniel 4:34; Daniel 4:36-37).
The form of the Chapter is unusual. It is a decree that Nebuchadnezzar issued following his recovery from temporary insanity. The decree contains the record of events resulting in the issuing of the decree. Daniel himself may have written this account as a decree, or he may have inserted the king’s actual decree from another source. It is unique in Scripture, being the only Chapter composed by a pagan-if Nebuchadnezzar wrote it, and if he was unconverted.
The structure of the Chapter is essentially ABBA, chiastic. It begins and ends with praise of God (Daniel 4:1-3; Daniel 4:34-37), and in the middle there is the narration of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 4:4-18), and its interpretation and fulfilment (Daniel 4:19-33).
Nebuchadnezzar had finished extensive building projects (Daniel 4:30, including the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon?). He reigned a total of 43 years (605-562 BC). The Septuagint dates the events of this Chapter in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (Daniel 4:4, LXX; about 587 BC) but they are believed to have occurred c. 583-582 BC around the twenty-third year of his reign. The Septuagint connected Daniel 4:1-3 to the end of Chapter 3, and began Chapter 4 with Daniel 4:4.
Daniel 4:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
The narrative of Chapter 4 is recorded in the form of a royal proclamation.
The once proud monarch has become a humble child of God (PK521).
CHAPTER 4
1 Nebuchadnezzar confesseth God’s kingdom, 4 maketh relation of his dreams, which the magicians could not interpret. 8 Daniel heareth the dream. 19 He interpreteth it. 28 The story of the event.
1. Unto all people. The narrative of events in Chapter 4 is recorded in the form of a royal proclamation. Because they cannot find parallels to such publicly announced conversions, modern scholars declare such an edict historically absurd. But arguments from silence are never conclusive. On the other hand, royal conversion to a new religion or god is attested elsewhere. For example, King Amenhotep IV of Egypt forsook the polytheistic religion of his ancestors and of the nation and made strong efforts to introduce a new monotheistic religion into the realm. He built a new capital, changed his own name, closed the old temples, denounced the old gods, erected new temples to his god, and did everything in his power to promote the new religion.
As little is known of Nebuchadnezzar’s history from sources outside of the Bible, it is difficult to verify all the events of the king’s reign from contemporary source material. In fact, there are no contemporary non-Biblical sources for Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem, or even for his long campaign against Tyre, though the historicity of these events is not disputed. It is therefore not strange to find no reference in Babylonian records to the king’s mental illness. Such records naturally omit items dealing with the misfortunes of a national hero. The change in this Chapter from the first to the third person and back again to the first person (see verses 2–27; cf. verses 28–33; 34– 37) has been explained by assuming either that Daniel wrote the edict upon the king’s command or that as Nebuchadnezzar’s chief counselor Daniel added certain portions to the edict written by the king himself. The edict reflected the king’s feelings when his full mental powers had been restored. “The once proud monarch had become a humble child of God” (PK 521; cf. EGW, Supplementary Material, on Daniel 4:37).
Peace be multiplied. The introduction to the proclamation contains an expression of good wishes. The edicts later promulgated by Persian kings were similar in form (see Ezra 4:17; 7:12). A typical formula in the Aramaic Elephantine letters of the 5th century BC is “The health of—may the God of Heaven seek”.
Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
Interestingly, Nebuchadnezzar’s name is found 58 times in the Old Testament with 32 of those in the Book of Daniel. Even though “little is known of Nebuchadnezzar’s history from sources outside of the Bible” [1] a search on the internet produces almost a million and a half articles about him [2]. Therefore, considerable interest in that ancient king remains even to our day.
• [1] Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.4, page 788
• [2] the Google search engine produced 1,400,000 hits on the name “Nebuchadnezzar
In Chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar had just decreed all those who spoke “any thing amiss against the God” of the three Hebrews were to “be cut in pieces, and their houses . . . made a dunghill“. The non threatening tone of this Chapter is completely different suggesting a profound change in the king’s outlook had taken place because he proclaims “Peace” to all the world instead of death. Although the previous three Chapters were authored by Daniel, the introduction to this Chapter puts us on notice that Nebuchadnezzar himself was the author. A quick survey of this Chapter tends to confirm that conclusion.
Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth
It should be noted at the outset that this letter appears to be written by King Nebuchadnezzar though some commentators believe it is more likely that it was penned by the prophet Daniel at the king’s request. This is largely due to the use of Biblical phrases that appear at the beginning and end of the Chapter. This Chapter represents Nebuchadnezzar’s astounding testimony of being humbled and raised back to a place of great honor by Almighty God.
Here, in the opening verse of Daniel Chapter 4, we recall that King Nebuchadnezzar has just recently witnessed an incredible miracle involving God’s saving power as he delivered the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, from the king’s own fiery furnace. While this event apparently humbled the great king of Babylon, causing him to proclaim protection for all who worship the God of the Hebrews, even more humiliation is yet to come for Nebuchadnezzar in this Chapter.
Nebuchadnezzar will serve as the narrator in much of this Chapter. In this verse, the king proclaims himself as the king of the known world as he wields power over “all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth”.
Peace be multiplied unto you.
In this opening greeting, King Nebuchadnezzar speaks a blessing over the welfare of his subjects: “Peace be multiplied unto you“.
 
Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people … – The Syriac here has, “Nebuchadnezzar the king wrote to all people, etc”. Many manuscripts in the Chaldee have “sent”, and some have “wrote”; but neither of these readings are probably genuine, nor are they necessary. The passage is rather a part of the edict of the king than a narrative of the author of the Book, and in such an edict the comparatively abrupt style of the present reading would be what would be adopted. The Septuagint has inserted here a historical statement of the fact that Nebuchadnezzar did actually issue such an edict: “And Nebuchadnezzar the king wrote an encyclical epistle to all those nations in every place, and to the regions, and to all the tongues that dwell in all countries, generations and generations: ‘Nebuchadnezzar the king,'” etc.. But nothing of this is in the original.
Unto all people, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth – That is, people speaking all the languages of the earth. Many nations were under the scepter of the king of Babylon; but it would seem that he designed this as a general proclamation, not only to those who were embraced in his empire, but to all the people of the world. Such a proclamation would be much in accordance with the Oriental style. Compare Daniel 3:4.
Peace be multiplied unto you – This is in accordance with the usual Oriental salutation. Compare Genesis 43:23; Judges 6:23; 1Samuel 25:6; Psalms 122:7; Luke 10:5; Ephesians 6:23; 1Peter 1:2. This is the salutation with which one meets another now in the Oriental world – the same word still being retained, “Shalom”, or “Salam”. The idea seemed to be, that every blessing was found in peace, and every evil in conflict and war. The expression included the wish that they might be preserved from all that would disturb them; that they might be contented, quiet, prosperous, and happy. When it is said “peace be multiplied“, the wish is that it might abound, or that they might be blessed with the numberless mercies which peace produces.
(1) The fact that Nebuchadnezzar addressed what follows to everyone living on the earth, even though he did not rule over the entire earth, should not be a problem. This was the universal language that he customarily used (cf. Daniel 3:29). He did, in fact, rule over a very large portion of the ancient world. Likewise the benediction, “May your peace abound”, seems to be a typical salutation formula (cf. Daniel 6:25).
(1-3) Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great [are] his signs! and how mighty [are] his wonders! his kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion [is] from generation to generation.
Nebuchadnezzar the king: This unique Chapter is the testimony of a Gentile king and how God changed his heart. In this, Nebuchadnezzar is a good example of a witness (one who relates what he has seen and experienced).
I thought it good to show: It is good to show what God has done for us. Satan has a huge interest in keeping us unnaturally silent about the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for us.
His kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom: Nebuchadnezzar was a great king, but in this Chapter he recognized that God’s kingdom was far greater and His dominion was completely unique because it is an everlasting kingdom.
This report is Nebuchadnezzar’s autobiography. What do these introductory words reveal about Nebuchadnezzar’s relationship to God?
• He respects God as the One who is the Most High.
• He testifies to God’s work in him.
• He acknowledges God’s universal and eternal rule.
Verse 37: Nebuchadnezzar’s report ends with a doxology.
One Unique Chapter
Daniel Chapter 4 is unique and awesome! You see, it is the personal testimony of a man who at the time of writing was the most powerful person in the entire earth. Daniel Chapter 4 records a public decree of King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations and languages [3].  This is his testimony and clearly, he had something important that he wanted to make known. You will note that he starts by stating ‘Peace be multiplied unto you‘. This is rather strange coming from the man whose favourite saying was that he was going to ‘ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill‘. Has something happened to this king that has made him mellow to the point where he’s starting to sound more like Peter or Paul from the New Testament? Something sure has happened  [4]  … and something radical! You see, the king has come to experience something of this peace that he now writes about… the peace that only comes when a man is right with God (Rom 5:1). And he wants everyone to know about it! There is certainly a lesson in that for us.
• [3] You can imagine what the ‘peoples and nations‘ were thinking when they heard that there was another decree coming from the king! They would have still remembered the last one – you know, the last decree where the king said come and bow or be thrown into the fire. The nations would have been wondering what’s going to happen this time.
• [4] It would be good to read Jeremiah 52:4-11 below for a moment to remind yourself about this king. The Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel Chapter 4 didn’t used to be this way.
Jeremiah 52:4-11 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth [day] of the month, [that] Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about. So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And in the fourth month, in the ninth [day] of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which [was] by the king’s garden; (now the Chaldeans [were] by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
4:2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
The events of this Chapter are believed to have taken place soon after that of Chapter 3, in 583 or 582 BC, after Nebuchadnezzar had been king for 22 or 23 years.
Daniel, since Chapter 2, is next mentioned in verse 19, where he interprets the king’s second dream [5]. Although nothing more is said about Daniel’s three companions, there is reason to believe they were still holding the important governmental positions to which they had been promoted. Even before that they had already been assigned high positions over “the affairs of the province of Babylon” (Daniel 2:49) just after they completed their early training after Daniel had interpreted the king’s first dream.
• [5] At least his second recorded dream. He probably had many others.
To be promoted to an even higher place from those positions must have brought them, in all likelihood, into the environs of the king himself where, doubtless they served well because the kingdom flourished like no other kingdom ever did before or after the reign of Neubchadnezzar. “Exalted to the pinnacle of worldly honor, and acknowledged even by Inspiration as ‘a king of kings,’ (Ezekiel 26:7), Nebuchadnezzar nevertheless at times had ascribed to the favor of Jehovah the glory of his kingdom and the splendor of his reign” [6]. Quite likely, the continuing influence of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as well as Daniel, had a lot to do with that.
• [6] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White, pages 514-515.
I thought it good
The word used for this phrase in the Aramaic is “shephar” and is derived from the Hebrew word “shaphar” meaning to be beautiful, fair or comely. In this verse, it refers to Nebuchadnezzar’s own belief that it would be pleasing or good to announce what comes next.
To shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
It is clearly Nebuchadnezzar’s intent through this letter to openly declare (“chavah”) and publish the signs (“ath”) and wonders (“temah”) that have been wrought by the hand of God before his eyes — and often on his behalf. This phrase “signs and wonders” is, of course, a Biblical phrase that appears numerous times throughout the Old Testament. (See Exodus 7:3; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 13:1; Deuteronomy 34:11; Isaiah 8:18; Jeremiah 32:20)
Without a doubt, Nebuchadnezzar has already been a witness to God’s miraculous works. In Daniel Chapter 2, he is given a dream that reveals the entire span of human government followed by its replacement with God’s eternal Kingdom. And in Daniel Chapter 3, he is witness to God’s redemptive power when He delivers the three Hebrews out of the fiery furnace. However, as we will discover in this Chapter, God has more to reveal to Nebuchadnezzar and it is these things that the king intends to publish in this letter.
 
I thought it good – Margin, “it was seemly before me”. The marginal reading is more in accordance with the original. The proper meaning of the Chaldee word is, to be fair or beautiful; and the sense here is, that it seemed to him to be appropriate or becoming to make this public proclamation. It was fit and right that what God had done to him should be proclaimed to all nations.
To show the signs and wonders – Signs and wonders, as denoting mighty miracles, are not infrequently connected in the Scriptures. See Exodus 7:3; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 13:1; Deuteronomy 34:11; Isaiah 8:18; Jeremiah 32:20. The word rendered “signs” means, properly, “a sign”, as something significant, or something that points out or designates anything; as Genesis 1:14, “shall be for “signs” and for “seasons“; that is, signs of seasons. Then the word denotes an ensign, a military flag, Numbers 2:2; then a sign of something past, a token or remembrancer, Exodus 13:9, Exodus 13:16; Deuteronomy 6:8; then a sign of something future, a portent, an omen, Isaiah 8:18; then a sign or token of what is visible, as circumcision, Genesis 17:11, or the rainbow in the cloud, as a token of the covenant which God made with man, Genesis 9:12; then anything which serves as a sign or proof of the fulfilment of prophecy, Exodus 3:12; 1Samuel 2:34; and then it refers to anything which is a sign or proof of Divine power, Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 6:22; Deuteronomy 7:19, “et al”.
That the high God – The God who is exalted, or lifted up; that is, the God who is above all. See Daniel 3:26. It is an appellation which would be given to God as the Supreme Being. The Greek translation of this verse is, “And now I show unto you the deeds which the great God has done unto me, for it seemed good to me to show to you and your wise men”.
(2-3) “Signs” and “wonders” are common biblical words used to describe miracles (cf. Deuteronomy 6:22; Deuteronomy 7:19; Deuteronomy 13:1-2; Deuteronomy 26:8; Nehemiah 9:10; Isaiah 8:18; et al.). Signs (Aram. ’atohi) refer to “natural phenomena that because of their magnitude or timing decisively evidence God’s intervention”. Wonders (Aram. timhohi) are “supernatural manifestations of divine intervention in the course of nature”. The “Most High God” is clearly God (cf. Daniel 3:26). The king had great respect for God, but that does not necessarily mean that he was a monotheist, much less a convert to Judaism. The king’s praise of God opens and closes the Chapter (cf. Daniel 4:37), forming an inclusio around the narrative.
4:3 How great [are] his signs! and how mighty [are] his wonders! his kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion [is] from generation to generation.
3. His kingdom. The doxology of the second part of verse 3 occurs again with variations in verse 34; cf. Chapter 7:14, 18.
At the time of this writing it appears that the king’s spiritual life was flourishing. He was enjoying immensely the thought that his newfound God was Master of all and that God’s kingdom was the only kingdom that would last forever. Now, he was at peace with the thought his kingdom was only temporary.
Although the deliverance of the Hebrews gave his spirituality a real jump-start, that experience, being some years in the past by now, had steadily lapsed. But, who could blame him? He was probably the most outstanding king in history. According to one source, here are some interesting facts about this king and his kingdom:
Nebuchadnezzar II was the real genius and builder of Babylon. Of it’s 70 years in existence he ruled 45 years. As the commander of Nabopalassar’s armies he was unstoppable. He broke the power of Egypt at the battle of Carchemish and proved to be one of the mightiest monarchs of all time. Among the cities he invaded and plundered were Tyre, Moab, Ammon, Edom, and Jerusalem. Inscriptions, documents and letters written during the 43 years of his reign (605-562 BC.) give an idea of the power and wealth of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar’s palace was considered by some to be the most magnificent building ever erected on earth.
How great [are] his signs! and how mighty [are] his wonders!
King Nebuchadnezzar continues his praise of the God of the Hebrews by recalling the greatness of His signs (portents) and the mightiness and strength of His wonders. The king has experienced Almighty God’s great signs and mighty wonders and speaks from experience.
His kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom,
This earthly king of Babylon understands the concept of a kingdom. He knows his own kingdom is perishable. But he knows that Almighty God’s Kingdom (“malku”) is everlasting (“alam”). That is, while man’s kingdoms are temporary, the Kingdom of God is eternal with no end.
And his dominion [is] from generation to generation.
Nebuchadnezzar goes on to declare God’s dominion (“sholtan”) as able to last throughout all of the ages to come.
How great [are] his signs – How great and wonderful are the things by which he makes himself known in this manner! The allusion is doubtless to what had occurred to himself – the event by which a monarch of such state and power had been reduced to a condition so humble. With propriety he would regard this as a signal instance of the Divine interposition, and as adapted to give him an exalted view of the supremacy of the true God.
And how mighty [are] his wonders – The wonderful events which he does; the things fitted to produce admiration and astonishment. Compare Psalms 72:18; Psalms 86:10; Isaiah 25:1.
His kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom – Nebuchadnezzar was doubtless led to this reflection by what had occurred to him. He, the most mighty monarch then on earth, had seen that his throne had no stability; he had seen that God had power at his will to bring him down from his lofty seat, and to transfer his authority to other hands; and he was naturally led to reflect that the throne of God was the only one that was stable and permanent. He could not but be convinced that God reigned over all, and that his kingdom was not subject to the vicissitudes which occur in the kingdoms of this world. There have been few occurrences on the earth better adapted to teach this lesson than this.
And his dominion [is] from generation to generation – That is, it is perpetual. It is not liable to be arrested as that of man is, by death; it does not pass over from one family to another as an earthly scepter often does. The same scepter; the same system of laws; the same providential arrangements; the same methods of reward and punishment, have always existed under his government, and will continue to do so to the end of time. But the dominion of God is in all generations the same. This generation is under the government of the same Sovereign who reigned when Semiramis or Numa lived; and though the scepter has long since fallen from the hands of Alexander and the Caesars, yet the same God who ruled in their age is still on the throne.
4:4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
at rest – Nebuchadnezzar was in undisturbed possession, i.e. Chapter 4 is set in the last half of his 43 year reign.
4. At rest. This phrase indicates that the king was now in undisturbed possession of his kingdom. Therefore the events of this Chapter belong to the last half of his reign of 43 years. The king was “flourishing” in his palace in Babylon, and like the foolish rich man in the parable, whose fields had produced abundantly (Luke 12:16–21), forgot his responsibility to the One to whom he owed his greatness.
I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
Any one of us, unless completely devoted to God as was Daniel, Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego, would be dazzled, especially if we ruled over all of that! How true it is that “The cup most difficult to carry is not the cup that is empty, but the cup that is full to the brim. It is this that needs to be most carefully balanced. Affliction and adversity bring disappointment and sorrow; but it is prosperity that is most dangerous to spiritual life” [7].
• [7] Ministry of Healing by E.G. White, page 212.
The writer of this passage once again identifies himself as the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Before expanding upon his dream of a great tree that filled the whole earth, he explains that he was at rest or “at rest” (“sheleh”) in his home (indicative of peace in his personal life) and prospering or “flourishing” (“raanan”) in his palace (indicative of peace within his government and rulership.)
It is in this context of peace and prosperity that King Nebuchadnezzar will be once again challenged by a prophetic heavenly dream.
 
I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest – Some manuscripts in the Greek add here, “In the eighteenth year of his reign Nebuchadnezzar said”. These words, however, are not in the Hebrew, and are of no authority. The word rendered “at rest” means, to be secure; to be free from apprehension or alarm. He designs to describe a state of tranquility and security. Greek, “at peace” – enjoying peace, or in a condition to enjoy peace. His wars were over; his kingdom was tranquil; he had built a magnificent capital; he had gathered around him the wealth and the luxuries of the world, and he was now in a condition to pass away the remainder of his life in ease and happiness.
In mine house – In his royal residence. It is possible that the two words here – house and palace – may refer to somewhat different things: the former – house – more particularly to his own private family – is domestic relations as a man; and the latter – palace – to those connected with the government who resided in his palace. If this is so, then the passage would mean that all around him was peaceful, and that from no source had he any cause of disquiet. In his own private family – embracing his wife and children; and in the arrangements of the palace – embracing those who had charge of public affairs, he had no cause of uneasiness.
And flourishing in my palace – Greek – literally, “abundant upon my throne”; that is, he was tranquil, calm, prosperous on his throne. The Chaldee word means, properly, “green”; as, for example, of leaves or foliage. Compare the Hebrew word in Jeremiah 17:8; “He shall be as a tree planted by the waters – her leaf shall be green“. Deuteronomy 12:2, “under every green tree“, 2Kings 16:4. A green and flourishing tree becomes thus the emblem of prosperity. See Psalms 1:3; Psalms 37:35; Psalms 92:12-14. The general meaning here is, that he was enjoying abundant prosperity. His kingdom was at peace, and in his own home he had every means of tranquil enjoyment.
(4) As mentioned above, the time of this dream was apparently later in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Historians have identified a seven-year period during his reign when he engaged in no military activity (c. 582-575 BC). This may be the seven years during which he was temporarily insane. It is believed that he had this dream in 583 or 582 BC. If this is the true date, Nebuchadnezzar would have defeated the Egyptians under Pharaoh Hophra (in 588-587 BC), and would have destroyed Jerusalem (in 586 BC) before he had this dream. In any case, he was at ease and resting in his palace when God gave him this revelation. Nebuchadnezzar described himself as “flourishing” in his palace, in terms that in the original language picture him flourishing as a green plant. This king built the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which enriched his naturally arid capital with luxuriant foliage. His description of himself here anticipates the figure of the tree in his dream that represented him.
(4-5) Having reached the climax of his power, Nebuchadnezzar receives a second dream from God. The dream is terrifying.
The 5 P’s 
Daniel 4:4-5 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.
What Nebuchadnezzar had and mankind seeks 
• Palace
• Power
• Pleasure
• Peace
• Prosperity
The palace, the power, the pleasure, the peace and the prosperity. Nebuchadnezzar had the 5 P’s. The 5 P’s contain the goal of the vast majority of humankind. That’s what most of us spend most of our time trying to achieve. And it should be said that these can be the gift of God at times. But when the gift of God takes the place of God then we have a problem.
Well this was the situation that the king found himself in. Peace, power and prosperity but no God… not good. So what do we see above? Well, we see God shake the situation up. Nebuchadnezzar receives a God-given dream that rattles him to his core. God is well able to shake things up with Christians and non-Christians alike. His heart and desire is often not ours for he has priorities that are far higher and longer lasting than ours.
(4-9) Only Daniel can explain the dream to Nebuchadnezzar.
I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 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. 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. 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], 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.
Was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: Nebuchadnezzar’s rest was the false peace of the ungodly. God soon shook him from his false security.
I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof: This is not the same dream as in Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar readily told his counselors this dream, but they did not tell him what it meant. The dream was fairly easy to interpret; the wise men probably lacked courage more than insight. Nebuchadnezzar said they did not make it known, not that they could not make it known.
Whose name [was] Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god: Before Daniel interpreted the dream described in this Chapter for Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon considered the Babylonian deity Bel his god.
• This means that what he saw previously with Daniel and the three Hebrew young men was enough to impress him, but not enough to convert him. Being impressed with God isn’t the same as being converted.
4:5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
afraid – a sudden unexpected occurrence – the dream was so explicit that the king sensed that it contained some evil message for him (PK516); it was this that alarmed him.
This was the last dream which God gave to Nebuchadnezzar.
5. Afraid. The abrupt manner in which the event is here introduced aptly illustrates the unexpected suddenness of the occurrence itself (see Chapter 2:1).
I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
In contrast to his first recorded dream in Chapter 2, in which “the thing [was] gone from [him]” (Daniel 2:5), here, it appears the  details remained vividly in mind when he awoke. Therefore, it was the meaning of those things that “troubled” him. But, like his first dream that caused him great anxiety, this too came directly from God. “In mercy God gave the king another dream, to warn him of his peril, and of the snare that had been laid for his ruin” [8].
• [8] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White, page 515.
Clearly, the “snare” and “ruin” spoken of were threats to his own soul; not of potential assassination or invasion of his kingdom [9]. “Satan comes to us [as he did Nebuchadnezzar] with worldly honor, wealth, and the pleasures of life. These temptations are varied to meet men of every rank and degree, tempting them away from God to serve themselves more than their Creator. “All these things will I give thee,” said Satan to Christ. “All these things will I give thee,” says Satan to man. “All this money, this land, all this power, and honor, and riches, will I give thee”; and man is charmed, deceived, and treacherously allured on to his ruin. If we give ourselves up to worldliness of heart and of life, Satan is satisfied.” [10].
• [9] certainly, however, apostasy from God could bring such fate indirectly. Consider what happened to Belshazzar
• [10] Our High Calling page 93.
This is the same cosmic conspiracy we are all involved in, but it swirls like a tornado around people like Nebuchadnezzar for Satan has much to gain from their ruin! Because of the influence they exert upon so many others, their ruin ensures the ruin of a host of other souls. So, it was carnal security that threatened Nebuchadnezzar’s eternal security and God was mercifully concerned for him as well as the many other people under his influence.
I saw a dream which made me afraid,
Suddenly, the king’s narrative turns from resting in peace at his palace to having a dreadful and terrible dream. This is just one of the heavenly-inspired dreams that Nebuchadnezzar has during his reign as the king of Babylon.
And the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
Note that the king is “troubled” by the contents (thoughts and visions) of this dream. The word “thoughts” in this verse is unusual as it is taken from an obscure Aramaic word “harhor”, which means to imagine. However, this Aramaic word is derived from a root corresponding to the Hebrew word “harah”, meaning to become pregnant. In a way, Nebuchadnezzar’s mind will become “pregnant” with divine information. Only the Spirit of God will be able to decode the relevance and import of what the king is about to see.
Like the king’s previous dream, which we discussed in detail in our Daniel Chapter 2 commentary, the Spirit of God chooses the mouth of the blessed prophet Daniel to unlock the dream’s interpretation. 
I saw a dream – That is, he saw a representation made to him in a dream. There is something incongruous in our language in saying of one that he saw a dream.
Which made me afraid – The fear evidently arose from the apprehension that it was designed to disclose some important and solemn event. This was in accordance with a prevalent belief then (cp. Daniel 2:1), and it may be added that it is in accordance with a prevalent belief now. There are few persons, whatever may be their abstract belief, who are not more or less disturbed by fearful and solemn representations passing before the mind in the visions of the night. Compare Job 4:12-17; Job 33:14-15.
And the thoughts upon my bed – The thoughts which I had upon my bed; to wit, in my dream.
And the visions of my head – What I seemed to see. The vision seemed to be floating around his head.
Troubled me – Disturbed me; produced apprehension of what was to come; of some great and important event.
(5-7) His dream, which was also a vision from God, terrified him, as the original language makes clear (cf. Daniel 2:1; Daniel 2:3). He still believed in his wise men even though they had let him down previously (Daniel 2:10-12). This time he told them his dream and simply asked them to interpret it. They failed again, so he called in his expert in these matters: Daniel.
4:6 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.
6. Decree. Compare the phraseology in Daniel 3:29. As in the case of the dream of Chapter 2, the wise men were summoned. In this instance, however, the king had not forgotten the contents of the dream. The demand of the king for an interpretation of it was therefore vastly different from that described in Daniel 2:5.
A “decree” was a serious matter in those days. The first one recorded in Daniel was actually a death decree that “the wise [men] should be slain” (Daniel 2:9, 13). But, it was made after the wise men had been “commanded” to come in for counseling (Daniel 2:2). Here, his decree was made in order to secure the meaning of a dream he could recall in distinct detail.
Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise [men] of Babylon before me,
Similar to the account given in Daniel 2, the king once again commands all of Babylon’s wise men to be brought before him.
That they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
The purpose of the king’s command is to properly discern his unusual dream. He is unable to interpret the dream for himself and rightly understands that its interpretation will require divine wisdom. However, instead of simply calling for the prophet Daniel, he requests all of the wise men of Babylon to come to his aid. Did the king simply forget about the unmatched divine wisdom that rested upon Daniel or is this a display of Nebuchadnezzar’s lack of trust in Daniel’s God? Either way, the fact that Nebuchadnezzar calls for all of Babylon’s wise men — instead of simply calling for Daniel — is somewhat interesting.
Therefore made I a decree – The word here rendered decree means, commonly, “taste, flavor”, as of wine; then “judgment, discernment, reason”; and then a judgment of a king, a mandate, edict. Compare Daniel 3:10. The primary notion seems to be that of a delicate “taste” enabling one to determine the qualities of wines, viands, etc.; and then a delicate and nice discrimination in regard to the qualities of actions. The word thus expresses a sound and accurate judgment, and is applied to a decree or edict, as declared by one who had the qualifications to express such a judgment. Here it means, that he issued a royal order to summon into his presence all who could be supposed to be qualified to explain the dream.
To bring in all the wise [men] … – Particularly such as are enumerated in the following verse. Compare Daniel 2:12. It was in accordance with his habit thus to call in the wise men who were retained at court to give counsel, and to explain those things which seemed to be an intimation of the Divine will. See Daniel 2:2. Compare also Genesis 41:8.
(6–9) The wise [men] cannot interpret the dream, although this time the dream is related to them (compare with Daniel 2). Again Daniel is brought to solve the problem. The phrase “in whom is the spirit of the holy gods” underlines the high esteem Daniel enjoyed. People do not rely on God immediately; instead they first try to solve problems themselves.
The stubborn heart
(6-9) 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. 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. 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], 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.  
As the king continues recounting his experiences to all the peoples and nations we see that faced with a terrifying dream he goes initially to his own people. Why? In the ancient world military conquests generally meant that your ‘gods’ were greater than that of the conquered nation. Well here was king Nebuchadnezzar… he had conquered all that he cared for so clearly his Babylonian gods must be the most powerful gods. And yet he knew that Daniel worshipped the God of Israel and the king didn’t want to have to acknowledge that Daniel’s God could reveal things that his own gods couldn’t!
Some people are very stubborn and don’t want to acknowledge God unless they have to! Some have to face a major trial before seeking His face. Some hold off right to the end of their life. And some, sadly, hold off even when faced with a Christ less eternity. But God gives everyone the right opportunity to acknowledge Him and that is what He is about to do with the king. Having exhausted all his ‘Babylonian’ avenues, Daniel is finally called before the king.
4:7 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.
Nebuchadnezzar turns to the Chaldeans for an explanation before asking Daniel to explain – even though, on a previous occasion, he had demonstrated his superior skill and wisdom.
7. Magicians. Of the four groups of wise [men] listed in this verse, two, the magicians and the astrologers, were introduced in Daniel 1:20, the third class, the Chaldeans, in Daniel 2:2 (see Daniel 1:4), and the fourth class, the soothsayers, in Daniel 2:27.
Did not make known. Some have suggested that because these wise men of Babylon were experts in the interpretation of dreams and signs of a supernatural character, they possibly offered some kind of interpretation. In fact the dream was so explicit the king himself sensed that it contained some evil message for him (see PK 516). It was this that alarmed him. However, ancient courtiers customarily flattered their sovereigns and avoided directly telling them anything disagreeable. Hence, even if they understood parts of the dream and had some inkling as to its import, they would not have found the courage to voice their conclusions. If they did offer some sort of explanation, it proved wholly unsatisfactory to the king. They certainly could not give an accurate and detailed interpretation as Daniel later did (see PK 517, 518). Instead of “they did not make known” the RSV reads, “they could not make known”. Some regard the KJV as the better rendering. Nevertheless it is true that “none of the wise [men] could interpret” the dream (PK 516).
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.
The original members of the “wise” in Daniel 2:2 is exactly the same except for “the sorcerers” who are not listed here. The “sorcerers“, in contrast to the “magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans and soothsayers“, were those who practiced witchcraft like those of Pharaoh’s court who did “enchantments“, and others who “dealt with . . . familiar spirits” (see Exodus 7:11; 2 Chronicles 33:6 for example). While, to us, all of the others would seem to fall under the same category as those who dabble in the occult, it may have been Daniel, who was aware of God’s command “thou shalt not suffer a witch [11] to live“, had advised the king to dismiss the sorcerers from his cabinet. It is only in Daniel 2:2 that “the sorcerers” are mentioned in the Book of Daniel.
• [11] the noun “witch” is translated from the same Aramaic word “kashaph” as “sorcerer“. Therefore, a “sorcerer” was also a “witch“.
Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them;
Here, the king recounts the four various groups of Babylonian wise [men] that he ordered into his presence so that he could share with them the contents of his dream.
But they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.
Despite hearing the entire contents of Nebuchadnezzar’s intense and vivid dream, none of Babylon’s wise men were able to provide the king with an interpretation. (At least the king shares the contents of the dream with them in this instance. In Daniel Chapter 2, the king demanded the wise [men] to relay both the contents and the interpretation of his dream!)
 
Then came in the magicians … – All the words occurring here are found in Daniel 2:2, except the word rendered “soothsayers“. This occurs in Daniel 2:27. All these words refer to the same general class of persons – those who were regarded as endued with eminent wisdom; who were supposed to be qualified to explain remarkable occurrences, to foretell the future, and to declare the will of heaven from portents and wonders. At a time when there was yet a limited revelation; when the boundaries of science were not determined with accuracy; when it was not certain but that some way might be ascertained of lifting the mysterious veil from the future, and when it was an open question whether that might not be by dreams or by communication with departed spirits, or by some undisclosed secrets of nature, it was not unnatural that persons should be found who claimed that this knowledge was under their control. Such claimants to preternatural knowledge are found indeed in every age; and though a large portion of them are undoubted deceivers, yet the existence of such an order of persons should be regarded as merely the exponent of the deep and earnest desire existing in the human bosom to penetrate the mysterious future; to find something that shall disclose to man, all whose great interests lie in the future, what is yet to be. Compare the remarks at the close of Daniel 2.
And I told the dream before them … – In their presence. In this instance he did not lay on them so hard a requisition as he did on a former occasion, when he required them not only to interpret the dream, but to tell him what it was, Daniel 2. But their pretended power here was equally vain. Whether they attempted an interpretation of this dream does not appear; but if they did, it was wholly unsatisfactory to the king himself. It would seem more probable that they supposed that the dream might have some reference to the proud monarch himself, and that, as it indicated some awful calamity, they did not dare to hazard a conjecture in regard to its meaning.
4:8 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],
of the holy gods or ‘of the holy God’.
8. Belteshazzar. The narrative introduces Daniel, first by his Jewish name, by which he was known to his countrymen, then by his Babylonian name, given to him in honor of Nebuchadnezzar’s chief god (see Daniel 1:7).
Why Daniel had been kept in the background so long, although he was considered “master of the magicians” (verse 9), is not explained. Some have suggested that Nebuchadnezzar aimed first to find out what the Chaldeans in general had to say about this extremely disconcerting dream, before hearing the full truth, which he suspected was unfavorable (compare the case of King Ahab, 1Kings 22:8). Only after the other wise men of the caste of occult scientists proved unable to satisfy the king did he call for the man who had, on a previous occasion, demonstrated his superior skill and wisdom with respect to the interpretation of dreams (Chapter 2; cf. Daniel 1:17, 20).
Of the holy gods. Or, “of the holy God” (see RSV margin). The Aramaic for “gods” is ’elahin, a term used frequently of false gods (see Jeremiah 10:11; Daniel 2:11, 47; 3:12; 5:4), but which may apply also to the true God (see Daniel 3:25; cf. Daniel 5:11, 14). The expression reveals what it was that had inspired the king with confidence in Daniel’s superior power and understanding. It also reveals that Nebuchadnezzar possessed a conception of the nature of that Deity to whom Daniel owed such power and wisdom. Daniel and his companions had borne witness without hesitation concerning the God they worshiped. The expression, repeated in verses 9 and 18 of Daniel 4, shows clearly that Nebuchadnezzar had by no means forgotten what he had learned on a previous occasion respecting the eminent prophetic gift of this Jew, and of his intercourse with the only true God.
Instead of “in whom [is] the spirit of the holy gods“, the Theodotion version reads, “who has in him the holy spirit of God”.
But at the last Daniel came in before me,
Just as the message unfolded in our Daniel Chapter 2 commentary, it is Daniel alone who is able to come before the king and share the divine interpretation of his dream.
Whose name [was] Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god,
Belteshazzar” is the Babylonian name assigned to Daniel by Ashpenaz, the chief of the king’s eunuchs. (See Daniel 1:7) The name literally means “Prince of Bel” or “Bel protect the king”. Bel is the Babylonian word for “Lord” and was used to refer to Marduk, the chief god of Babylon.
And in whom [is] the spirit of the holy gods:
Nebuchadnezzar understands that Daniel’s wisdom is not purely of human origin. Instead, the king rightly gives credit for Daniel’s prophetic interpretive abilities to divine spiritual powers.
And before him I told the dream, [saying],
Here, the king begins to share his unusual dream with Daniel as we will see in the following dramatic verses.
 
But at the last – After the others had shown that they could not interpret the dream. Why Daniel was not called with the others does not appear; nor is it said in what manner he was at last summoned into the presence of the king. It is probable that his skill on a former occasion Daniel 2 was remembered, and that when all the others showed that they had no power to interpret the dream, he was called in by Nebuchadnezzar.
Whose name [was] Belteshazzar – That is, this was the name which he bore at court, or which had been given him by the Chaldeans. See Daniel 1:7.
According to the name of my god – That is, the name of my god Bel, or Belus, is incorporated in the name given to him. This is referred to here, probably, to show the propriety of thus invoking his aid; because he bore the name of the god whom the monarch had adored. There would seem to be a special fitness in summoning him before him, to explain what was supposed to be an intimation of the will of the god whom he worshipped. There is a singular, though not unnatural, mixture of the sentiments of paganism and of the true religion in the expressions which this monarch uses in this Chapter. He had been a pagan all his life; yet he had had some knowledge of the true God, and had been made to feel that he was worthy of universal adoration and praise, Daniel 2. That, in this state of mind, he should alternately express such sentiments as were originated by paganism, and those which spring from just views of God, is not unnatural or improbable.
And in whom [is] the spirit of the holy gods – It is not easy to determine whom he meant by the holy gods. It would seem probable that this was such language as was dictated by the fact that he had been an idolater. He had been brought to feel that the God whom Daniel worshipped, and by whose aid he had been enabled to interpret the dream, was a true God, and was worthy of universal homage; but perhaps his ideas were still much confused, and he only regarded him as superior to all others, though he did not intend to deny the real existence of others. It might be true, in his apprehension, that there were other gods, though the God of Daniel was supreme, and perhaps he meant to say that the spirit of all the gods was in Daniel; that in an eminent degree he was the favorite of heaven, and that he was able to interpret any communication which came from the invisible world. It is perhaps unnecessary to observe here that the word spirit has no intended reference to the Holy Spirit. It is probably used with reference to the belief that the gods were accustomed to impart wisdom and knowledge to certain men, and may mean that the very spirit of wisdom and knowledge which dwelt in the gods themselves seemed to dwell in the bosom of Daniel.
And before him I told the dream, [saying] – Not requiring him, as he did before Daniel 2, to state both the dream and its meaning.
(8) What does “according to the name of my god” express?
• Nebuchadnezzar had somehow acknowledged the true God (Daniel 2 and 3) and yet adhered to his own god(s).
• There was no true conversion.
• Maybe for him the almighty God was one among many gods.
(8) Daniel may not have been with the king’s other advisers because he occupied a position in the government that required his presence elsewhere. The king described Daniel by using both his Hebrew and Babylonian names. This would have had the double effect of causing those who read this decree to recognize Daniel by his common Babylonian name, and to honor Daniel’s God (cf. Daniel 4:37). Nebuchadnezzar probably meant that “a spirit of the holy gods” (cf. Daniel 4:17)-in a pagan sense-indwelt Daniel, since he used a plural adjective (translated “holy”) to describe the noun (“gods”). However, we should probably not be dogmatic on this point since “holy” can mean divine rather than morally pure. In this case the king may have meant “the Spirit of the holy God”. The true interpretation lies buried in the theological understanding of Nebuchadnezzar, which the text leaves unclear.
(8-9) 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], 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.
Note, this is the first mention of Daniel’s name since Chapter 2:49. But, from the esteem, noted in this verse, that he held in the eyes of the king we can safely assume that he conducted a very distinguished service in the kingdom of Babylon. Quite likely, he had counseled the king on many other matters throughout the intervening years and thus had established his reputation for having “the spirit of the holy gods” because “no [other] secret” seemed to be hidden from him.
So Daniel did not come in before the king along with the other “wise [men]” even though he was “master of the magicians“. Evidently, by the time Daniel did come in, the king had already explained his dream giving the others opportunity to interpret it before Daniel arrived. We are not told whether or not they ventured an explanation, only that “they did not make [it] known . . .
Some have suggested Nebuchadnezzar aimed first to find out what the Chaldeans in general had to say about this extremely disconcerting dream, before hearing the full truth which he suspected was unfavorable [12]. With the king’s statement in verse 7 that they “did not make known . . . the interpretation“, instead of “could not”, implies that they too had an inkling of its negative implications but feared to make it known. Putting a positive spin on it, especially since the “master” was soon to come in would have been hazardous, to say the least! They knew, whatever they had to say they would again be exposed as charlatans.
[12] Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.4, page 789
But, whatever the case, it had to be impossible for them to remain totally silent. They had to come up with something and their stammering, hesitant words probably bored, if not exasperated the king. But, unlike his previous reaction, the king was far more patient this time and did not threaten to have them “cut in pieces” as he did in Daniel 2:5.
Note the king’s words saying: Daniel’s “name was Belteshzzar, according to the name of my god” instead of Daniel’s. Even though in verse 2 Nebuchadnezzar referred to “the high God” he seems here to be struggling with the idea that Daniel’s God was the “only God” instead of being the greatest among many others.
So, even today like the ancient king, multitudes continue to believe in a polytheistic, multiplicity of “gods” instead of only one God. The king’s words, when introducing Daniel, were indeed flattering. If they were designed to take Daniel off his guard and tempt him to modify the negative impact of the dream’s interpretation, it didn’t work. One of the tests of a true prophet is to tell the truth regardless of the consequences, and Nebuchadnezzar respected him for it. Perhaps, his purpose for bringing the wise men in first, was to hear as much good news (even though false) as possible, before hearing the bad.
4:9 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.
9. Master of the magicians. This term used by the king is probably synonymous with that used in Daniel 2:48, “chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon“. The word “master” in Daniel 4:9 and “chief” in Daniel 2:48 are translations of the same Aramaic word, rab.
Tell me the visions. The king seems to demand that Daniel tell the dream as well as its interpretation, at the same time proceeding at once to narrate the dream (verse 10).
O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians,
The king’s reference to Daniel (or Belteshazzar) as the “master of the magicians” reveals how Daniel was highly regarded across Babylon at this time. This position of honor was actually given to Daniel after his correct interpretation of the king’s dream earlier in Chapter 2. (See Daniel 2:48.)
Because I know that the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee, and no secret troubleth thee,
The king’s lauding of Daniel’s divine wisdom as the “master of the magicians” in this passage is reminiscent of the way the Egyptian pharaoh praised the interpretative abilities of Joseph. (Genesis 41:38 reads: “And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find [such a one] as this [is], a man in whom the Spirit of God [is]?“)
Tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
Here, the king makes his clear request known to Daniel. Because he knows Daniel is capable, endued with divine wisdom, he asks him to interpret his stunning dream. Before he permits Daniel to speak, however, he continues in the following verses by explaining the specific contents of the dream so that Daniel can interpret it for him.
O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians – “Master“, in the sense that he was first among them, or was superior to them all. Or, perhaps, he still retained office at the head of this class of men – the office to which he had been appointed when he interpreted the former dream, Daniel 2:48. The word rendered “master” is that which was applied to a teacher, a chief, or a great man among the Jews – from where came the title “rabbi”. Compare Daniel 2:48; Daniel 5:11.
Because I know that the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee – This he had learned by the skill which he had shown in interpreting his dream on former occasion, Daniel 2.
And no secret troubleth thee – That is, so troubles you that you cannot explain it; it is not beyond your power to disclose its signification. The word rendered “secret” occurs in Daniel 2:18-19, Daniel 2:27-30, Daniel 2:47. It is not elsewhere found. It means what is hidden, and has reference here to the concealed truth or intimation of the Divine will couched under a dream. The word rendered “troubleth thee” means, to urge, to press, to compel; and the idea here is, than it did not so “press” upon him as to give him anxiety. It was an easy matter for him to disclose its meaning. Greek, “No mystery is beyond your power”.
Tell me the visions of my dream – The nature of the vision, or the purport of what I have seen. He seems to have desired to know what sort of a vision he should regard this to be, as well as its interpretation – whether as an intimation of the Divine will, or as an ordimary dream. The Greek and Arabic render this, “Hear the vision of my dream, and tell me the interpretation thereof”. This accords better with the probable meaning of the passage, though the word “hear” is not in the Chaldee.
(9) Nebuchadnezzar addressed Daniel as the chief of the magicians. By this he probably meant that Daniel was his chief interpreter of the future, not that he was the head of a group of magicians. Daniel’s fame in this regard had evidently become well known (cf. Ezekiel 28:3).
4:10 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.
behold, a tree – Divine wisdom frequently employs parables and similitudes as vehicles for the transmission of truth.
The ancients were accustomed to seeing a meaning in every extraordinary dream – God used the agency of a dream on this occasion.
10. Behold a tree. Divine wisdom frequently employs parables and similitudes as vehicles for the transmission of truth. This method is impressive. The imagery tends to enable the recipient to retain the message and its import in his memory longer than if the message had been communicated in any other way. Compare the imagery of Ezekiel 31:3–14. The ancients were accustomed to seeing a meaning in every extraordinary dream. Perhaps this is why God employed the agency of a dream on this occasion.
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.
In verse 5 he called it a singular “dream“. The “visions” (plural) refer to the many details in his single “dream“. Nebuchadnezzar now proceeds to describe the dream in detail. Instead of “a great image” that he saw in his first dream, he saw a great “tree“. While nothing was said regarding what the “great image” was standing on, this “tree” is standing “in the midst of the earth” and of tremendous “height“.
Thus [were] the visions of mine head in my bed;
Here, the king begins a lengthy description of his very unusual and vivid dream that came to him as he rested in his royal bed.
I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof [was] great.
The dream opens with a visual of an exceedingly tall tree that was situated in the “midst” or middle of the earth. In essence, this tree sits at the focal point of the earth and serves as the centerpiece of the king’s dream.
Thus [were] the visions of mine head in my bed – These are the things which I saw upon my bed. When he says that they were the “visions of mine head“, he states a doctrine which was then doubtless regarded as the truth, that the head is the seat of thought.
I saw – Margin, “was seeing”. Chaldee, “seeing I saw”. The phrase would imply attentive and calm contemplation. It was not a flitting vision; it was an object which he contemplated deliberately so as to retain a distinct remembrance of its form and appearance.
And, behold, a tree in the midst of the earth – Occupying a central position on the earth. It seems to have been by itself – remote from any forest: to have stood alone. Its central position, no less than its size and proportions, attracted his attention. Such a tree, thus towering to the heavens, and sending out its branches afar, and affording a shade to the beasts of the field, and a home to the fowls of heaven Daniel 4:12, was a striking emblem of a great and mighty monarch, and it undoubtedly occurred to Nebuchadnezzar at once that the vision had some reference to himself. Thus in Ezekiel 31:3, the Assyrian king is compared with a magnificent cedar: “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of a high stature, and his top was among the thick boughs”. Compare also Ezekiel 17:22-24, where “the high tree and the green tree” refer probably to Nebuchadnezzar. See Isaiah 2:13. Compare Isaiah 10:18-19; Jeremiah 22:7, Jeremiah 22:23. Homer often compares his heroes to trees. Hector, felled by a stone, is compared with an oak overthrown by a thunderbolt. The fall of Simoisius is compared by him to that of a poplar, and that of Euphorbus to the fall of a beautiful olive. Nothing is more obvious than the comparison of a hero with a lofty tree of the forest, and hence, it was natural for Nebuchadnezzar to suppose that this vision had a reference to himself.
And the height thereof [was] great – In the next verse it is said to have reached to heaven.
(10-12) The king described what he had seen in poetic language. His words therefore appear as a prophetic oracle. The ancients frequently used trees to describe rulers of nations (cf. Isaiah 2:12-13; Isaiah 10:34; Ezekiel 31:3-17). Thus Nebuchadnezzar may have anticipated that the tree in his dream represented himself. What happened to the tree in his dream then could account for his fear (Daniel 4:5). This tree was similar to Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom. The beasts and birds probably represent the many types of people who benefited from Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (cf. Ezekiel 31:6; Matthew 13:32).
A tree in the midst of the earth: The tree in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was noted for its size, strength, prominence, beauty, fruit, and shelter.
He cried aloud and said thus: The watcher (presumably an angel) explained the fate of the tree. He noted that the tree was to be chopped down, and it would lose its size, strength, prominence, beauty, fruit, and shelter. He also said that the tree represented a man who would be changed and given the heart of a beast.
Bound with a band of iron and brass: These were either for the tree stump’s confinement or protection. The tree would no longer be free and great.
To the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men: Nebuchadnezzar heard these words in his dream. In light of this, the dream wasn’t hard to interpret – it clearly dealt with the humbling of a great king. No wonder none of Nebuchadnezzar’s counselors wanted to interpret the dream for him.
Like most kings – ancient and modern – Nebuchadnezzar wanted to believe that he ruled instead of God or anyone else. Both the Assyrian and the Babylonian kings thought of themselves as rulers over all the earth, so describing themselves in their inscriptions.
The Dream
(10–18) The dream refers to a tree that is to be cut down. A heavenly being announces the judgment on the tree. The tree is a symbol, for we hear about a human heart that will be replaced by the heart of a beast. A time span is given for this “beastly” condition.
Not just another tree chopped down
(10-18) 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. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: 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. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; 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: 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: 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. 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 here is the dream he had. It is of one very impressive tree that grew enormously tall and stood out for its beauty and abundance. This tree was visible to the ends of the earth signifying that extent of the Babylonian kingdom and its influence on the then known world. Beasts and birds alike are said to have found shelter and provision under this tree. And yet, in the midst of this impressive tree watching exercise, an angelic ‘watcher‘ comes forth and issues a decree of judgment. The tree will be chopped down.
4:11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven,
Next, Nebuchadnezzar explains that the tree in his vision grew large and strong before his eyes. The height of the tree became so overwhelming that the treetop reached all the way up to the heavens (Aramaic: “shamayin”). The idea of an earthly object breaching the earth/heaven divide, which was implemented from the dawn of creation, is reminiscent of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9. In essence, the idea of an earthly object (tree) reaching to the heavens carries a negative connotation in the Old Testament and suggests early on that this dream may result in judgment.
And the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
Due to its extreme height, this tree envisioned in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream could be seen from anywhere in the world. What does this massive tree represent? Let’s keep reading to discover the answer.
 
The tree grew – Or the tree was “great”. It does not mean that the tree grew while he was looking at it so as to reach to the heaven, but that it stood before him in all its glory, its top reaching to the sky, and its branches extending afar.
And was strong – It was well-proportioned, with a trunk adapted to its height, and to the mass of boughs and foliage which it bore. The strength here refers to its trunk, and to the fact that it seemed fixed firmly in the earth.
And the height thereof reached unto heaven – To the sky; to the region of the clouds. The comparison of trees reaching to heaven is common in Greek and Latin authors.
And the sight thereof to the end of all the earth – It could be seen, or was visible in all parts of the earth. The Greek here for “sight” is “breadth, capaciousness”. Herodotus (“Polymnia”) describes a vision remarkably similar to this, as indicative of a wide and universal monarchy, respecting Xerxes:
“After these things there was a third vision in his sleep, which the magicians hearing of, said that it pertained to all the earth, and denoted that all men would be subject to him. The vision was this: Xerxes seemed to be crowned with a branch of laurel, and the branches of laurel seemed to extend through all the earth”. The vision which Nebuchadnezzar had here, of a tree so conspicuous as to be seen from any part of the world, was one that would be naturally applied to a sovereign having a universal sway.
(11-12) The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: 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.
A similar description is given of “Pharaoh king of Egypt” who was likened to “a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations.” (Ezekiel.31:2-6).
We ourselves can “be like a tree . . . that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalms.1:3). David observed he had “seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree“. But, he likened himself to “a green olive tree in the house of God“. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalms 37:5; 52:8; 92:12).
So, in most cases, the “tree” figure represents the individual, not a kingdom or a nation as such.
4:12 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.
The leaves thereof [were] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it [was] meat for all:
The leaves of this great tree were beautiful to the eyes and it bore so much fruit that it was able to provide food for all the living.
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.
In addition to its beauty and abundance of fruit, the shade created by this massive tree sheltered the beasts of the field from the blistering sun. The great tree’s branches served to house the birds of the sky which “dwelt” there.
Finally, this verse concludes by reiterating the complete sustenance provided by the vast amount of fruit grown on this great tree from which “all flesh” (all living creatures) feed.
From the king’s perspective as related through his dream, this great tree is vitally important to all life on earth.
The leaves thereof [were] fair – Were beautiful. That is, they were abundant, and green, and there were no signs of decay. Everything indicated a vigorous and healthy growth – a tree in its full beauty and majesty – a striking emblem of a monarch in his glory.
And the fruit thereof much – It was loaded with fruit – showing that the tree was in its full vigour.
And in it [was] meat for all – Food for all, for so the word meat was formerly used. This would indicate the dependence of the multitudes on him whom the tree represented, and would also denote that he was a liberal dispenser of his favors.
The beasts of the field had shadow under it – Found a grateful shade under it in the burning heat of noon – a striking emblem of the blessings of a monarchy affording protection, and giving peace to all under it.
And the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof – The fowls of the air. They built their nests and reared their young there undisturbed, another striking emblem of the protection afforded under the great monarchy designed to be represented.
And all flesh was fed of it – All animals; all that lived. It furnished protection, a home, and food for all. In the Greek Codex Chisianus there is the following version or paraphrase given of this passage: “Its vision was great, its top reached to the heaven, and its breadth to the clouds – they filled the things under the heaven – there was a sun and moon, they dwelt in it, and enlightened all the earth”.
4:13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
a watcher – not ‘keeping watch’, rather ‘being watchful’.
Recognised as bearing the credentials of the God of heaven (PK578); see also Education 174-178.
13. A watcher. Aramaic ‘ir, derived from the verb ‘ur, “to watch”, and corresponds to the Heb. ‘er, which does not signify “keeping watch”, but rather “being watchful”, or “one who is awake” as the marginal annotation to the word in the Codex Alexandrinus explains it. The LXX translates the word by aggelos, “angel”, but Theodotion, instead of translating it, simply transliterates it ir. The Jewish translators Aquila and Symmachus render it “the watchful one”, a term found in the Book of Enoch and other Apocryphal Jewish writings to designate the higher angels, good or bad, who watch and slumber not. As a designation for angels the term “watcher” would be peculiar to this passage in the OT. That the watcher is a heavenly messenger is indicated by the further attribute “an holy one“, and the phrase “came down from heaven“. This much is evident: The watcher was recognized as bearing the credentials of the God of heaven (see PK 518).
I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
Who was the “watcher?” The Aramaic word is “’iyr” meaning “waking, watchful, wakeful one, angel”. So, this was a heavenly angel who bore “the credentials of the God of heaven” [13]. “Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that the fact might be determined whether it would fulfil the purposes of the Watcher and the Holy One. Prophecy has traced the rise and progress of the world’s great empires–Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with the nations of less power, history has repeated itself. Each has had its period of test; each has failed, its glory faded, its power departed” [14].
• [13] Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.4, page 790
• [14] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White, page 535
I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold,
The king’s captivating dream about the massive tree providing shade for the beasts and food for all living things takes a sudden turn as the king’s attention is turned towards the heavens.
A watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
As the dream continues, Nebuchadnezzar describes a vision of an angelic being, which the text refers to as a “watcher” descending from heaven. The word “watcher” in the Aramaic is “ir” and literally means “waking or wakeful one”. This word is derived from the Hebrew word which carries the same meaning and usually appears as the word “awake” or “to stir” in the 80 times it is used throughout the Old Testament. (See Judges 5:12, Psalms 35:23, 57:8)
This is the only Chapter of the Bible where this word is translated as “watcher“. The word is used twice by the king, and once by Daniel (Daniel 4:23). This word, however, is used many times in extra-biblical Books, such as The Book of Enoch, and refers to a higher order of angelic beings, usually archangels.
It is interesting that the king sees one who is awake even as he sleeps.
This wakeful angelic being, known as a watcher, that descends from heaven is also referred to in this verse as a “holy one“.
I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed – In the visions that passed before me as I lay upon my bed, Daniel 4:10.
And, behold, a watcher and an holy one – Or rather, perhaps, “even a holy one”; or, “who was a holy one”. He evidently does not intend to refer to two beings, a “watcher“, and “an holy one“; but he means to designate the character of the watcher, that he was holy, or that he was one of the class of “watchers” who were ranked as holy – as if there were others to whom the name “watcher” might be applied who were not holy.
The “watcher“, who is an angel, has been observing the progress of the fruitful tree that was “to dwell on all the face of the earth” representing the first of the “worlds” great empires. Here, the angel decrees its premature destruction while it was still fruitful and before it has had a chance to fade, fail or wither of its own accord. Note that the hewing “down”, shaking “off” and the scattering represent acts coming directly from heaven, a direct, heavenly interference, as it were, in the affairs of men hoping to steer the kingdom in a better direction. If Nebuchadnezzar had accepted the warning, he would have retained his sanity.
(13-15) The watcher who descended from heaven (Daniel 4:13) was probably a divine agent, an angel, though Nebuchadnezzar described it using terminology from his background (cf. Daniel 4:17). Earthly kings had watchmen who served as their eyes and ears and who carried out the bidding of their lords. The binding of the stump (Daniel 4:15) hints at a restoration of the tree’s life and its growth after its cutting down. After all, the stump could have been removed. The significance of the iron and bronze band that bound the stump is questionable. It kept the tree stump from disintegrating, and perhaps it symbolized the madness that would bind Nebuchadnezzar or the fact that he would be protected while demented. As the description proceeds, it becomes increasingly clear that the tree represents a man. “It” now becomes “him” (Daniel 4:15).
4:14 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:
He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit:
Next, the king hears the angelic watcher shout aloud an unusual command in his dream. The command is to chop down the great tree and to cut off all of its fruitful branches. Additionally, the angel commands that the branches, once removed from the tree, be stripped of all of their leaves and that the fruit be scattered
let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
The devastation continues as the angelic being commands that the beasts, who formerly dwelt safely in the shade cast by the tree, “flee from under it”. So too, the birds are ordered to leave the safety and refuge of the tree’s great branches.
He cried aloud – Margin, as in the Chaldee, “with might”. That is, he cried with a strong voice.
Hew down the tree – This command does not appear to have been addressed to any particular ones who were to execute the commission, but it is a strong and significant way of saying that it would certainly be done. Or possibly the command may be understood as addressed to his fellow-watchers Daniel 4:17, or to orders of angels over whom this one presided.
And cut off his branches … – The idea here, and in the subsequent part of the verse, is, that the tree was to be utterly cut up, and all its glory and beauty destroyed. It was first to be felled, and then its limbs chopped off, and then these were to be stripped of their foliage, and then the fruit which it bore was to be scattered. All this was strikingly significant, as applied to the monarch, of some awful calamity that was to occur to him after he should have been brought down from his throne. A process of humiliation and desolation was to continue, as if the tree, when cut down, were not suffered to lie quietly in its grandeur upon the earth. “Let the beasts get away”, etc.. That is, it shall cease to afford a shade to the beasts and a home to the fowls. The purposes which it had answered in the days of its glory will come to an end.
4:15 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:
leave the stump – cf. Job 14:8 & Is 11:1; also Daniel 4:26 cf. 36 – ultimate sprouting typified the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar from his sickness (verses 24 & 25); not continued dynasty supremacy.
with a band – possibly physical chains that would bind the king in his maniacal condition.
15. Leave the stump. Compare Job 14:8; Isaiah 11:1. The ultimate sprouting of this root-stump (see Job 14:7–9) typified, as appears from a comparison of verses 26 and 36, the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar from his sickness, and not the continued supremacy of his dynasty, as some commentators have explained it. The whole passage obviously designates an individual and not a nation.
With a band. Many commentators see in this statement a reference to metal bands fastened on a root-stump, probably in order to prevent it from cracking or splitting, although such a practice cannot be demonstrated from ancient sources. The LXX makes no mention of these bands. According to that version verse 15 reads, “And thus he said, Leave one of its roots in the earth, in order that with the beasts of the earth, in the mountains of grass he might feed like an ox”. Theodotion supports the Masoretic text. Since the interpretation of the dream does not call attention to the bands, the interpretation of the figure is left to conjecture. Somewhere in verses 15, 16 there is a transition from the “stump” to what the stump represented. Some make the transition as early as in the phrase under consideration and see in the bands either physical chains such as would be necessary to bind the king in his maniacal condition (Jerome) or figurative bands, representing the restrictions that would be placed upon the monarch as a result of his illness. However, it appears more natural to apply the bands to the stump itself and to consider them as indicating the care that would be exercised in preserving it.
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:
So, while the “watcher” ordered the tree be hewed down, it was not to be uprooted from the earth. The “stump” was to be preserved “with a band of iron and brass” suggesting justice being measured out while mingled with mercy. Note the personal pronoun “his“, in the last part of this verse instead of “it“, as in the preceding clause. Thus, it becomes clear that watcher’s message is being directed to a person, instead of a literal plant.
Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass,
As the angelic commands continue, we learn that the stump of the chopped down tree is ordered to be left alone with its roots intact in the ground. While the tree, its branches, foliage, fruit, and all of its animal inhabitants are removed, the tree’s trunk is to be bound with iron and bronze. These two metals carry an interesting prophetic significance as explained in the Daniel 2 study. While the divine interpretation of these events will come in later verses of this Chapter, it is at least noteworthy here that this tree stump has been bound with two of the strongest metals available at the time. According to Job 14:7-9, we read that even a fallen tree has hope of growing again if its roots remain intact: “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; [Yet] through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant“. However, the application of an iron and bronze band around the stump seems to ensure it would be restrained from growing, at least temporarily, for a divine purpose.
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:
The angelic being orders the stump of this enormous fallen tree to remain intact, along with its roots, in the grass of the open field. Interestingly, this stump is referred to as “him”, which infers that this tree and its fate signifies that of a person. This stump, which we know now represents a person, is to be “wet with the dew of heaven“. So too, this personified tree stump will reside alongside “the beasts in the grass of the earth“.
 
4:16 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.
heart – indicates nature; the king would take on the nature of a beast.
seven times – LXX – seven years. Nebuchadnezzar’s ordeal lasted seven years.
16. His heart. The transition from the figure of the tree to the actual object symbolized by the tree has now clearly been made (see verse 15). The term “heart” here seems to indicate nature. The king would take on the nature of a beast.
Seven times. The majority of ancient and modern interpreters explain the Aramaic ‘iddan, “time”, here (also in verses 23, 25, 32; Daniel 7:25; 12:7) to mean “year“. The original LXX reads “seven years“. Among the earlier expositors supporting this view are Josephus (Antiquities x. 10. 6), Jerome, Rashi, Ezra, and Jephet. Most modern expositors also agree with this view. Spirit of Prophecy confirms that it is “seven years“.
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.
So, at this point in the king’s narration, it becomes evident that the “tree” represented a person, not the entire kingdom. Note the use of the personal pronouns “his branches, his leaves, his fruit, his branches, his roots” in verses 14 and 15, and now his “heart” in this verse. If it were the entire kingdom, the impersonal pronoun “it” would seem more applicable. So, it must have been abundantly evident that his “heart” could not be the property of a literal “tree” but that it represented a person. That it was himself, must have been apparent as well.
Here, for the first of four times in Daniel 4, “seven times were to pass over him“. The word “times” is from the Aramaic word “‘iddan”, which, according to Strong’s is defined as “time (of duration)” or “a year”. It is the same word for “time” found in Daniel 7:25 that is properly computed in “prophetic, day-for-a-year time”, or 360 literal years.
But, in this case,  where “seven times” were to “pass over him“, or that the person represented was to live like a “beast” during that period of time, it could not mean he was to endure this humiliation for 2,520 years of prophetic time (that is 7 x 360), but “seven years” of literal time. Therefore, as in this case and as in all the other cases were time periods are mentioned both in Daniel and in the Book of Revelation, it is the context that dictates what application is to be used, whether symbolic “day-for-a-year” time is to be applied, or, the application of straight forward, literal time.
Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him:
The word for “heart” [mind] in this verse is the Aramaic word “lebab” meaning “heart”. This word, which is the same in Hebrew, refers to the “inner man”, the “will”, or the “heart”. The command is that the king’s “inner man” be replaced with a “beast’s heart” [beast’s mind]. Basically, Nebuchadnezzar’s punishment is to be degraded to the base level of the beast of the wild. This is a drastic and certainly an unusual consequence that the proud Nebuchadnezzar will have to endure.
And let seven times pass over him.
The angelic watcher proclaims that Nebuchadnezzar’s mental metamorphosis from a man to a beast is to last for a period of seven (“sheba”) times (“iddan”). This means “seven years“.
Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him – Here the same thing occurs in a more marked form, showing that some man was represented by the vision, and indicating some change which was fitted to attract the deepest attention – as if the person referred to should cease to be a man, and become a beast. The word heart here seems to refer to nature – “let his nature or propensity cease to be that of a man, and become like that of a beast; let him cease to act as a man, and act as the beasts do – evincing as little mind, and living in the same manner”.
And let seven times pass over him – In this condition, or until he is restored. It is not indeed said that he would be restored, but this is implied.
(16) The man portrayed as a tree cut down would be out of his mind (lebab, lit. heart, including feelings, emotions, and affections) for “seven times” (cf. Daniel 4:23; Daniel 4:25; Daniel 4:32; Daniel 7:25). The word “seven times” (’iddanin) is indefinite; It means years in Daniel 7:25, and that is the meaning here too.
17. Men of Destiny Watched With Vigilance.–The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. All kings, all nations, are His, under His rule and government. His resources are infinite. The wise man declares, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will”.  [4BC 1170.2]
Those upon whose actions hang the destinies of nations, are watched over with a vigilance that knows no relaxation by Him who “giveth salvation unto kings”, to whom belong “the shields of the earth”. (RH March 28, 1907).  [4BC 1170.3]
4:17 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.
watchers – plural i.e.. a heavenly council or assembly.
the living – i.e. the surrounding (heathen) nations.
ruleth – God ordains, permits or intervenes.
basest – low(ly) – humbled (5:22) and abase (4:37).
Refer to Education 174-176/8.
17. Watchers. See verse 13. The plural presupposes the existence of a heavenly council or assembly (see Job 1:6–12; 2:1–6).
That the living. This sentence reveals the divine purpose in the execution of the order. God’s dealings with Babylon and its king were to be an illustration to other nations and their kings of the results of accepting or rejecting the divine plan with respect to nations.
The most High ruleth. In the affairs of nations God is ever “silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will” (Education 173). At times, as with the call of Abraham, He ordains a series of events designed to demonstrate the wisdom of His ways. Again, as in the antediluvian world, He permits evil to run its course and provide an example of the folly of opposition to right principles. But eventually, as in the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt, He intervenes lest the forces of evil overcome His agencies for the salvation of the world. Whether God ordains, permits, or intervenes, “the complicated play of human events is under divine control” and an “overruling purpose has manifestly been at work throughout the ages” (PK 536, 535; see Education 174; Romans 13:1).
To every nation … God has assigned a place in His great plan” and has given an opportunity to “fulfil the purpose of ‘the Watcher and the Holy One’” (Education 178, 177). In the divine economy the function of government is to protect and upbuild the nation, to provide its people with the opportunity of achieving the Creator’s purpose for them, and to permit other nations to do the same (Education 175)—in order that all men “should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him” (Acts 17:27).
A nation is strong in proportion to the fidelity with which it fulfills God’s purpose for it; its success depends upon its use of the power entrusted to it; its compliance with the divine principles is always the measure of its prosperity; and its destiny is determined by the choices its leaders and people make with respect to these principles (Education 175, 174, 177, 178; PP 536). God imparts wisdom and power that will keep strong the nations that remain faithful to Him, but abandons those that ascribe their glory to human achievement and act independently of Him (PK 501).
Men “who refuse to submit to the government of God are wholly unfitted to govern themselves” (GC 584). “Instead of being a protector of men, Babylon became a proud and cruel oppressor. The words of Inspiration picturing the cruelty and greed of rulers in Israel reveal the secret of Babylon’s fall and of the fall of many another kingdom since the world began” (Education 176). Babylon’s fall was inevitable. “Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that it might be seen whether it would fulfill the purpose of “the Watcher and the Holy One.” Prophecy has traced the rise and fall of the world’s great empires–Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with nations of less power, history repeated itself. Each had its period of test, each failed, its glory faded,its power departed, and its place was occupied by another. While the nations rejected God’s principles, and in this rejection wrought their own ruin, it was still manifest that the divine, overruling purpose was working through all their movements.” (Education 177). “All are by their own choice deciding their destiny, and God is overruling all for the accomplishment of His purposes” (Education 177, 178). In rejecting God’s principles they accomplish their own ruin. “The complicated lay of human events is under divine control. Amidst the strife and tumult of nations, He that sitteth above the cherubim still guides the affairs of earth” and overrules “all for the accomplishment of His purposes” (Education 178). See Daniel 10:13.
Basest. Aramaic shephal, “low”, “lowly”, “humble”. The verb is translated “humbled” in Daniel 5:22 and “abase” in Daniel 4:37.
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.
In verse 13 “a watcher . . . came down from heaven“. Here “watchers” and “holy ones” are depicted. They, together with the “watcher” in what appears to be a heavenly counsel session, had agreed upon a “decree” or a plan regarding the fate of “the tree” with the object of making known the supremacy of God over all the kingdoms of the world.
Even though Nebuchadnezzar had previously made “a decree that every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” and even “promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (Daniel 3:29, 30) for their courageous witness in the burning furnace, he had drifted back into his original, arrogant frame of mind characterized by the question: “who [is] that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15).
So, he was soon to find out once again! The heavenly “watcher“, “watchers” and the “holy ones” had been observing this outstanding king who had many admirable character traits. They were concerned that something special must be done to spare him the inevitable ruin of his soul. They were fully aware that he was represented by the “head of gold” in his previous dream and that his kingdom was to be succeeded by “another kingdom inferior to” (Daniel 2:38, 39) his kingdom. Therefore, their concern was not so much for the kingdom itself, but for the king himself as an individual! So, the heavenly council session was convened to carefully lay a plan for the salvation of this one, precious soul, even though the full “intent” of the plan was to make known to all “the living . . . that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and setteth up over it the basest of men“.
The word “basest” is from the Aramaic meaning “low” or “lowest (of station)” suggesting that the position occupied by a ruler must be respected as appointed by God even though the king himself might deserve little nor no respect. The first part of the plan was to give warning. Since the king was a great believer in dreams, the initial avenue of approach was another dream like the one he had some twenty years before. That dream ended with a “stone” kingdom that “became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35). It was that kingdom the “watcher“, “watchers” and the “holy ones” were hoping Nebuchadnezzar, as well as all “the living” would accept.
This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones:
This word (or “sentence”) of Nebuchadnezzar’s fate is issued by the heavenly watchers/guardians (“ir”). And again, this verse indicates that this decision (meaning “affair”) is a word given by the holy ones, or saints (“qaddish”).
To the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men,
This word or edict pronounced by both the angelic “watchers” and the “holy ones“, or saints, is to show to those living on earth, that the “Most High God” (“Illay”, a name for God meaning “highest”) is the rightful ruler, master, governor, and captain (“shallit”) and that He exercises His authority over the realm, or kingdom (“malku”) of men.
And giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
As the ultimate Master of men and of their earthly kingdoms, God Most High has the authority to give power to whomever He pleases and to raise up even the “basest of men” to oversee earthly kingdoms. This phrase “basest of men” is translated from the Aramaic word “shephal”, which means “low in station” and more specifically, “humble”. In essence, the Most High God can humble the proud anytime He wishes and for any reason He wishes.
This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers – See Daniel 4:13. They are described here not only as watching over the affairs of men, but as entrusted with the execution of high and important designs of God. The representation is, that one of these heavenly beings was seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his visions, and that this one stated to him that he had come to execute what had been determined on by his associates, or in counsel with others.
And the demand – Or, the matter; the affair; the business. The Chaldee word properly means a question, a petition; then a subject of inquiry, a matter of business. Here it means, that this matter, or this business, was in accordance with the direction of the holy ones.
The holy ones – Synonymous with the watchers, and referring to the same. See Daniel 4:13.
To the intent that the living may know – With the design that those who live on the earth may understand this. That is, the design was to furnish a proof of this, so impressive and striking, that it could not be doubted by any. No more effectual way of doing this could occur than by showing the absolute power of the Most High over such a monarch as Nebuchadnezzar.
That the Most High – He who is exalted above all men; all angels; all that pretend to be gods. The phrase here is designed to refer to the true God, and the object was to show that he was the most exalted of all beings, and had absolute control over all.
Ruleth in the kingdom of men – Whoever reigns, he reigns over them.
And giveth it to whomsoever he will – That is, he gives dominion over men to whomsoever he chooses. It is not by human ordering, or by arrangements among men. It is not by hereditary right; not by succession; not by conquest; not by usurpation; not by election, that this matter is finally determined; it is by the decree and purpose of God. He can remove the hereditary prince by death; he can cause him to be set aside by granting success to a usurper; he can dispose of a crown by conquest; he can cut off the conqueror by death, and transfer the crown to an inferior officer; he can remove one who was the united choice of a people by death, and put another in his place. So the apostle Paul says, “There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” Romans 13:1.
And setteth up over it the basest of men – That is, he appoints over the kingdom of men, at his pleasure, those who are of the humblest or lowest rank. The allusion here is not to Nebuchadnezzar as if he were the “basest” or the “vilest” of men, but the statement is a general truth, that God, at his pleasure, sets aside those of exalted rank, and elevates those of the lowest rank in their place.
(17) The main thought of the Chapter is that God is the highest authority. He is the Lord of history and the Lord of humankind. This concept appears repeatedly in Daniel (2:21; 3:33; 4:17, 25, 26, 32, 34, 35, 37).
(17) God also revealed the purpose of the judgment of this “tree“. It was to teach all people that the Most High God (cf. Daniel 3:26) is sovereign over the affairs of humankind (Daniel 4:17; cf. Daniel 2:21; 1 Samuel 2:7-8; Job 5:11). He can, has, and will set up whom He will, even people of humble origin, to rule nations (e.g., Joseph, Israel’s judges, Saul, David, et al.). God does not need the mighty to do His work. Therefore it is foolish to become proud over one’s accomplishments and importance, like Nebuchadnezzar.
God had sought to impress His sovereignty on Nebuchadnezzar previously (Chapters 2, 3), but the king had not learned his lesson. So the Lord sent him a stronger lesson. This is often what He does (cf. Job 33:14-17). The last part of this verse is really a summary of the theme of the Book of Daniel.
(17-18) It is not by the might of armies, by the wisdom of rulers or by the progress of civilizations that the rise, prosperity and fall of kingdoms is determined; it is by the sovereignty of God. See Proverbs 21:1; Psalm 24:1-2.
Whether the rulers in our world today are noble or corrupt, God is still in charge, making all things work together to fulfil His purposes. Romans 8:28.
4:18 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.
18. Declare the interpretation. See verse 7.
The holy gods. See verse 8.
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.
Evidently, in view of the fact that Daniel was not present when first explained (see verse 8), the king had gone over the details the second time especially for Daniel’s sake. Judging from the words expressed here, the king was fully confident that Daniel would be able to handle all the details that the others had avoided.
(18) Nebuchadnezzar asks Daniel to interpret the dream.
• Declare the interpretation thereof: Nebuchadnezzar knew he could get an honest answer from Daniel, even when the truth was hard to bear.
• But thou [art] able; for the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee.: Though Nebuchadnezzar recognized Daniel as a man filled with the Spirit of the Holy God, Nebuchadnezzar had not yet yielded himself to the Holy God.
This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen.
Thus, the king concludes the summation of his unusual dream.
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:
Once again, King Nebuchadnezzar appeals to the prophet “Belteshazzar” (the Babylonian name given to Daniel) to interpret his dream as “none of the wise [men]” in Babylon have been able to decode it.
But thou [art] able; for the spirit of the holy gods [is] in thee.
King Nebuchadnezzar suggests his belief that the “spirit of the holy gods” that resides within Daniel will give him the answer.
This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen – This is the dream which I saw. He had detailed it at length as it appeared to him, without pretending to be able to explain it.
Forasmuch as all the wise [men] of my kingdom … – See Daniel 4:7.
But thou [art] able … – See Daniel 4:9.
(18) The king concluded his description of what his dream contained by appealing to Daniel to interpret it for him. It seems incredible that the Babylonian soothsayers could not offer an interpretation of this dream, since its meaning seems quite transparent. Perhaps God hid the meaning from them, or maybe they pretended ignorance of it since it predicted Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation, and they would not have wanted to tell him of that.
4:19 Then Daniel, whose name [was] Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
astonied – to be appalled, perplexed or, probably embarrassed.
The king clearly saw the consternation on Daniel’s face – then he speaks in the 3rd person (cf. Ezra 7:13-15 and Esther 8:7-8).
19. Astonied. Aramaic shemam, which, in the form here found, means “to be appalled”, “to be perplexed”, or “to be embarrassed”. The last meaning may be more appropriate here inasmuch as Daniel, understanding immediately the dream and its consequences, was distressed over the responsibility of disclosing its fearful import to the king (see Daniel 2:5).
Hour. Aramaic sha‘ah. It is impossible to define precisely the period of time indicated by sha‘ah. It may be a brief moment, or perhaps a longer period of time. Compare the uses of this word in Daniel 3:6, 15; 4:33; 5:5. Sufficient time must have elapsed for Daniel to have revealed to his royal patron that “his thoughts troubled him [or, alarmed him]”. Daniel was obviously searching for suitable words and expressions by which to acquaint the king with the terrible news concerning his future fate.
The king spake. That Nebuchadnezzar now speaks in the third person. Similar changes from the first to the third person and vice versa are found in other Books, Biblical (see Ezra 7:13–15; Esther 8:7, 8) and non-Biblical, ancient and modern (see Ezra 7:28).
The king clearly saw the consternation on Daniel’s face. From the nature of the dream he could hardly have expected to hear anything pleasant. Nevertheless he encouraged his trusted courtier to give him the full truth without fear of incurring royal disfavor.
That hate thee. Although Daniel had been made a captive by the king and had been deported from his homeland to serve strangers, the oppressors of his people, he harbored no ill feelings toward Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, his words testify that he felt the highest personal loyalty toward the king, probably in contrast with many of the Jews of his time. On the other hand, Daniel’s words must not be interpreted as necessarily expressing malice toward the king’s enemies. The answer exhibited simply a courteous reply in true Oriental fashion.
Nebuchadnezzar knew the Spirit “of the holy gods” was in Daniel (verse 18). The king’s problem was that he wanted to embrace all gods. From verse 19 Daniel explained, in the most diplomatic and careful manner he could, the application of the dream which God had given (verse 24). Then at the end Daniel added some advice (verse 27) suggesting that Nebuchadnezzar repent of his sins. Otherwise the disaster would surely take place to help the king acknowledge where his breath and life are coming from (verse 25).
Then Daniel, whose name [was] Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
In verse 9, the king asserted: “no secret troubleth thee . . “. Here we see Daniel greatly troubled. He was stunned, perplexed, even embarrassed. He clearly understood the meaning right from the start, but felt reluctant to share it. At first, much like the wise men who “did not make [it] known“, he was speechless, not for “one hour“, as KJV reads, but for “a moment” or “a period of time”.
E.G. White puts it this way: “Seeing Daniel’s hesitation and distress, the king expressed sympathy for his servant . . . its dreadful import had made him hesitate in dumb amazement, . . ” [15]. It must have been clear, even to the other wise men, that it portrayed impending doom and would not explain it because they were afraid of the king. In contrast, Daniel was afraid for the king. But, he accepted the responsibility for explaining the dream as tactfully as he could without omitting any details. He prefaced his interpretation with a sympathetic disclaimer which could be worded: “what I am about to tell you is good news for your enemies, but bad news for you”. Some catastrophes are worse than death, and what Daniel was preparing to tell the king that he was in danger of terrible humiliation. Death with honor would be more acceptable to a proud man like Nebuchadnezzar.
• [15] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White, page 517.
Then Daniel, whose name [was] Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.
After hearing the king’s description of his dream, the prophet Daniel is “appalled” (or astonished). So too, the thoughts that are provoked in Daniel’s mind “alarmed” (or deeply troubled) him.
The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee.
The king, in his haste to understand the dream and aware that its contents had greatly troubled Belteshazzar (Daniel), urges the prophet to not be alarmed by its interpretation.
Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
Just before the prophet begins to share the astonishing interpretation of the dream, he laments that it is directed at the king himself instead of at his enemies (of which he likely had many).
Was astonied – Was astonished. The word “astonied“, now gone out of use, several times occurs in the common version; Ezra 9:3; Job 17:8; Job 18:20; Ezekiel 4:17; Daniel 3:24; Daniel 4:19; Daniel 5:9. Daniel was “amazed” and “overwhelmed” at what was manifestly the fearful import of the dream.
For one hour – It is not possible to designate the exact time denoted by the word “hour“. It means a moment of time. In Arabic the word means both a moment and an hour. In Daniel 3:6, Daniel 3:15, it evidently means immediately. Here it would seem to mean a short time. That is, Daniel was fixed in thought, and maintained a profound silence until the king addressed him. We are not to suppose that this continued during the space of time which we call an hour, but he was silent until Nebuchadnezzar addressed him. He would not seem to be willing even to speak of so fearful calamities as he saw were coming upon the king.
And his thoughts troubled him – The thoughts which passed through his mind respecting the fearful import of the dream.
His thoughts troubled him: Daniel genuinely cared for Nebuchadnezzar and was clearly affected by the meaning of the dream. He didn’t want it to be true of his friend Nebuchadnezzar.
The king spake and said … – Perceiving that the dream had, as he had probably apprehended, a fearful significancy, and that Daniel hesitated about explaining its meaning. Perhaps he supposed that he hesitated because he apprehended danger to himself if he should express his thoughts, and the king therefore assured him of safety, and encouraged him to declare the full meaning of the vision, whatever that might be.
Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee – Let such things as are foreboded by the dream happen to your enemies rather than to you. This merely implies that he did not desire that these things should come upon him. It was the language of courtesy and of respect; it showed that he had no desire that any calamity should befall the monarch, and that he had no wish for the success of his enemies.
The Interpretation
(19) How does this verse describe Daniel?
• He does not rejoice over Nebuchadnezzar’s judgment. Instead he feels sorry about what is to happen to him.
• He cares for the king.
(19) Daniel’s initial reluctance to tell the king the interpretation must have been due to the bad news itself, or to the potentially harmful consequences to Daniel for telling it to the king. The AV translation “for one hour” (Daniel 4:19) describes a brief period of time better rendered “for a while” (NASB, et al.). Daniel had not hesitated to interpret the king’s first dream (Daniel 2:27-28). Sensing Daniel’s uneasiness, Nebuchadnezzar encouraged the prophet to relate the interpretation without fear of punishment. This verse reflects the respect that each man held for the other.
This verse reveals the heart of Daniel as well as any in the entire Book of Daniel. He knew the meaning of this dream and how well Nebuchadnezzar deserved what was to come upon him. Nevertheless, Daniel’s heart was concerned for the king and grieved over what he had to tell him. This was the distinctive feature of the true prophets of God: though they often had to predict judgments, they were nevertheless grieved when any of God’s creatures were chastised.
Daniel interprets the vision
(19-27) Daniel explains the rise and coming fall of Nebuchadnezzar.
Then Daniel, whose name [was] Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream [be] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; Whose leaves [were] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it [was] meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: It [is] thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him; This [is] the interpretation, O king, and this [is] the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Not very good news for the king is it? God is going to do something very radical to this king so that he will be brought to the place where he will finally acknowledge the God of Daniel as the Most High God. In fact, it is so radical that at first, even Daniel hesitates in giving the interpretation to the king because of what it means. Daniel would prefer that the interpretation applied to Nebuchadnezzar’s enemies and not the king himself. But speak he must. In like manner, the gospel can sometimes be hard for some to hear, and hard for others to give. But like Daniel we are still called to speak the truth in love. We need to show the same type of concern that Daniel did in giving the message but, again like Daniel, we still have to speak the truth.
So Daniel tells the king that God is going to judge him for seven times (seven years because of his appearance in Daniel 4:33). The king’s illness is boanthropy (imagining himself to be an animal and acting accordingly.) The only advice Daniel gives is for Nebuchadnezzar to renounce his sins and act righteously. Sound advice. Could not God repent of his warning of judgment if the king repented of his sin and pride? Of course He could just as He did when Nineveh repented in the days of Jonah. Well it seems to have worked for a little while… Twelve months to be precise. But when pride is firmly established in the heart of a man it is only a matter of time before it rises again and we see examples of what happens next!
4:20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
Here, the prophet Daniel begins to deliver a sobering interpretation of the king’s dream (perhaps with a genuine “fear and trembling” as to exactly how the king would respond upon discovering the dream’s devastating prediction for his own mind and body). Daniel refers first to the large and mighty tree that reached to the heavens.
The tree that thou sawest … – Daniel refers to the leading circumstances respecting the tree as it appeared in the dream, without any allusion as yet to the order to cut it down. He probably designed to show that he had clearly understood what had been said, or that he had attended to the most minute circumstances as narrated. It was important to do this in order to show clearly that it referred to the king; a fact which probably Nebuchadnezzar himself apprehended, but still it was important that this should be so firmly fixed in his mind that he would not revolt from it when Daniel came to disclose the fearful import of the remainder of the dream.
(20-22) The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; Whose leaves [were] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it [was] meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: It [is] thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
“The tree that thou sawest . . . [is] thou, O king”. Daniel had told the king “Thou [art] this head of gold“. Similarly he said “wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all” (Daniel 2:38), language very similar to what he says here. Therefore, the “tree” in this dream could be considered a parallel to the “head of gold” in Daniel 2.
(20-23) By repeating the facts of the dream as Nebuchadnezzar had previously narrated them, Daniel assured the king that he understood the dream exactly and was therefore interpreting it accurately. Nebuchadnezzar would have to leave his present place in society and would live in the open air with “beasts” (animals) of the field. Moreover, he would behave as an animal himself, even eating grass. Zoanthropy is a form of mental illness that causes such behavior. With it a person imagines himself or herself to be an animal. Perhaps this is what God used to afflict Nebuchadnezzar. Another possibility is that the king suffered from boanthropy. With this illness a person thinks himself or herself to be an ox (cf. Daniel 4:32; 5:21). His or her outer behavior is irrational, but the inner consciousness remains virtually unchanged. This may account for the statement that at the end of his affliction Nebuchadnezzar “lifted up mine eyes unto heaven” (i.e., repented, Daniel 4:34).
The wolf’s symbolism as an enemy of flocks and a metaphor for evil men with a lust for power, greed, destructiveness, and dishonest gain is actualized in the Book of Daniel’s account of a phase (delusional, manic, or otherwise) in the life of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. By whatever name called—boanthropy or lycanthropy—Nebuchadnezzar’s psychotic delusional condition appears to have been some form of zoanthropy.
As nouns the difference between zoanthropy and boanthropy is that zoanthropy is a kind of delusion in which the patient believes himself transformed into one of the lower animals while boanthropy is the delusion that one is an ox [agrees with Daniel 4:32; 5:21].
Lycanthropy is a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a delusion that the affected person can transform into, has transformed into, or is, an animal.
4:21 Whose leaves [were] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it [was] meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
Whose leaves [were] fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it [was] meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
The prophet Daniel continues the retelling of the king’s dream with the aim of interpreting the identity of this enormous tree adorned with beautiful leaves, with its abundant fruit for all, that served as a refuge for the “beasts of the field” and the “fowls of the heaven” meaning “birds of the sky”.
4:22 It [is] thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
unto heaven – Daniel uses Oriental court language and idioms to explain.
22. It [is] thou. Without holding the king in suspense for any length of time, Daniel plainly and clearly announced to him—though he no doubt already surmised it—that the tree represented the king himself.
Unto heaven. To some, the terms by which the prophet described Nebuchadnezzar’s greatness may seem exaggerated, but we must bear in mind that Daniel used Oriental court language and idioms, to which both he and the king were accustomed. These terms are remarkably similar to the boastful language of Nebuchadnezzar, exhibited in various of the king’s inscriptions discovered by archaeologists. They also resemble the words employed by Nebuchadnezzar’s Assyrian predecessors and other Oriental monarchs.
It [is] thou, O king, that art grown and become strong:
It is here where the hammer drops and the prophet Daniel reveals the identity of this glorious tree that will be cut down. The tree that became great and grew strong represented none other than King Nebuchadnezzar himself! How difficult it must have been for Daniel to articulate such devastating news to the most powerful ruler on earth at the time.
For thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
Indeed, the king’s majesty and the works of his hands had become renowned throughout the ancient world. From a spiritual perspective, the ancient kingdom of Babylon had seemingly reached to the heavens (much like the Tower of Babel whose builders sought to build an edifice that would reach the heavens). So too, the “dominion” of the ancient Babylonian kingdom was great as it ruled the known world at the time of Daniel’s interpretation of the king’s dream.
It [is] thou, O king – It is a representation of thyself. Compare Daniel 2:38.
It [is] thou, O king: Daniel applied the point without ambiguity. Instead of reaching for a general point (such as saying, “We all could use a little more humility”) Daniel brought the truth in love. This was similar to what the prophet Nathan said to King David: You are the man! (2Samuel 12:7).
• Great men and princes are often represented, in the language of the prophets, under the similitude of trees, see Ezekiel 17:5-6; 31:3; Jeremiah 22:15; Psalm 1:3; 37:35.
That art grown and become strong – Referring to the limited extent of his dominion when he came to the throne, and the increase of his power by a wise administration and by conquest.
For thy greatness is grown – The majesty and glory of the monarch had increased by all his conquests, and by the magnificence which he had thrown around his court.
And reacheth unto heaven – An expression merely denoting the greatness of his authority. The tree is said to have reached unto heaven Daniel 4:11, and the stateliness and grandeur of so great a monarch might be represented by language which seemed to imply that he had control over all things.
And thy dominion to the end of the earth – To the extent of the world as then known. This was almost literally true.
4:23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him;
In verse 17 the “watchers, and . . . holy ones” came forth with a “demand” codified as a “decree“. In view of the parallel in the foregoing verses to the image of Daniel 2, is there a parallel of the “watcher” of this verse to the “God of heaven” who is to “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed“, and whose “hands” were responsible for cutting “out” or selecting the “stone” from “the mountain” that He used to smite “the image upon his feet” [verse 38] in Daniel 2?
Recall that the words “cut out” in Daniel 2:34, 45 are translated from the Aramaic word which is translated “soothsayer” in Daniel 2:27; 4:7; 5:7, 11. We also learned that “soothsayers” is “from a root meaning ‘to cut,’ ‘to determine,’ Hence the generally accepted meaning is ‘the deciders,’ or ‘the determiners [of destiny]’” [16].
• [16] Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Vol.4, page 770 right column under “Soothsayers” for Dan.2:27 Unfortunately, the Commentary does not comment on the fact that “cut out” in Dan.2:34 & 45 is translated from the same Aramaic word.
Now, check out the Aramaic word for “Hew . . . down” in this verse and verse 14. It is from a closely related Aramaic word which means “cut down” instead of “cut out”. It therefore naturally follows that the “watcher“, “watchers” and “the holy ones” had determined or decided the “destiny” of this one individual named Nebuchadnezzar! They, in effect, were the same heavenly “soothsayers” that did the cutting “out” in Daniel 2:45.
But, unlike the great image of Daniel 2 that was broken “in pieces” (Daniel 2:35, 44) the “stump” of the “tree” with its “roots” were preserved “with a band of iron and brass” suggesting that the king’s dominion in the earth was to be preserved for a specified period delineated as “seven times“. The “seven times” specified for the king’s period of insanity obviously must be interpreted in a literal time scale of “seven years” because prophetic day-for-a-year time would amount to 2,520 years [17], far longer than the king could be expected to live.
• [17] 7 x 360 = 2520 days of years in the “prophetic, day-for-a-year” time scale.
Never-the-less, the Aramaic word for “times” is “iddan”, the same word translated “time, times” in Daniel 7:25 which must be understood in the “prophetic day-for-a-year” time period of 1260 years. Hence, when deciding on the interpretation of a time period (whether in literal or prophetic time) it is essential, just as we see here, to allow the context to bear full sway when making such a determination.
And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him;
Here, the prophet recounts the contents of the dream in preparation for the full interpretation which follows.
And whereas the king saw a watcher … – See Daniel 4:13. The recapitulation in this verse is slightly varied from the statement in Daniel 4:14-16, still so as not materially to affect the sense. Daniel seems to have designed to recall the principal circumstances in the dream, so as to identify it in the king’s mind, and so as to prepare him for the statement of the fearful events which were to happen to him.
(23–26) The verdict will be executed. There is a Lord who surpasses the ruler of the Babylonian world empire. Nebuchadnezzar is accountable to this Lord. Consequently, he may be cast out of human society for seven years. But the judgment has a goal. Nebuchadnezzar is supposed to learn that God is the true Lord. His kingdom is to return to him. The judgment is mingled with grace.
4:24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
After revealing that the tree in the dream represents the king, the prophet continues in his interpretation, which he confirms is the “decree of the most High” that directly involves the king of Babylon.
This is the decree of the most High – Daniel here designs evidently to direct the attention of the monarch to the one living and true God, and to show him that he presides over all. The purpose of the vision was, in a most impressive way, to convince the king of his existence and sovereignty. Hence, Daniel says that all this was in accordance with God’s “decree“. It was not a thing of chance; it was not ordered by idol gods; it was not an event that occurred by the mere force of circumstances, or as the result of the operation of secondary laws: it was a direct Divine interposition – the solemn purpose of the living God that it should be so. Nebuchadnezzar had represented this, in accordance with the prevailing views of religion in his land, as a “decree of the Watchers” Daniel 4:17; Daniel, in accordance with his views of religion, and with truth, represents it as the decree of the true God.
Which is come upon my Lord the king – The decree had been previously formed; its execution had now come upon the king.
(24-25) This [is] the interpretation, O king, and this [is] the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
At this point, Daniel dispenses with the figurative language of the “tree, leaves, root and stump” saying “the decree” is to “come upon [you] my lord” and that “they“, whoever “they” might be, will ostracized you from human society to live like a grazing animal out in the field preferring “to eat grass” instead of the delicacies that are now on your table. You, O king will not even have enough sense to come in out of the rain for seven long years.
Although nothing is said about this delicate matter, it stands to reason he would also have to handle his bodily eliminations just like an animal. Little wonder he would be driven from human society. Daniel adds that the “decree” was determined for your own good, O king. It will make you fully aware that even kings like you are under the full control of “the most High“.
(24-26) The king’s condition, whatever it was, would continue for seven times (cf. Daniel 4:16) until the king had learned that the Most High is sovereign. Then Nebuchadnezzar would receive back both his senses and his throne. “heavens do rule” (Daniel 4:26) is a figure of speech (metonymy) for God ruling, since God lives in heaven. The Jews often substituted “heaven” for God’s name out of respect for Him. This is most obvious in Matthew’s Gospel, which was written primarily for Jews, in which “the kingdom of heaven” usually replaces the more common “kingdom of God” in the other Gospels. However, this is the only place in the Old Testament where the substitution of “heaven” for “God” occurs.
4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
25. With the beasts. Although the words of the heavenly messenger clearly implied doom of some kind, to ascertain the nature of the judgment was beyond the skill of the magicians. The reason for the king’s expulsion from society is not stated, though probably understood by the king. That the judgment was insanity can be concluded not only from the general remarks of this verse describing his future status but also from the statement that his “understanding returned” (verse 34). The contention of critics that the king was expelled by discontented elements in the government, or as the result of a revolution, is unfounded.
That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field,
Now, Daniel reveals the most devastating part of the interpretation regarding the king. Namely, that he will be driven out, or expelled from his palace, away from all of mankind. Instead of living as an exalted man in the lap of luxury, Nebuchadnezzar will now live like an animal among the “beasts of the field“.
And they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven,
Instead of feasting in glory and splendor at the king’s table, Nebuchadnezzar will now be made to eat the grass (“asab”) of the field like the cattle and oxen and will be made wet by the “dew of heaven“. While this is certainly a punishment, there is an interesting semblance of grace even in this judgment. {For example, read the reference to the “dew of heaven” in Isaac’s blessing of Jacob (Genesis 27:28) and in Isaac’s words over Esau (Genesis 27:39).}
And seven times shall pass over thee,
Here, the length of Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliating punishment is determined to be “seven periods of time”. The word for seven is “sheba” and is the same word used hundreds of times throughout the Bible to refer to this number. For example, in Daniel 3, we read that Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be heated up by a magnitude of seven (“sheba”) times before casting the three Hebrews into the flames.
Till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
Here, this unusual judgment is understood as a direct consequence of the sovereign king’s pride and obstinacy. In essence, the Most High God decrees that it will take a length of “seven times” for the king to “recognize” (or know) that it is God Himself who rules over the kingdoms of men and that it is He who “bestows” (or gives) those kingdoms to those to whom He pleases. What a hard lesson that the proud king of Babylon must suffer!
Till thou know that the most High ruleth: This was God’s intended purpose for Nebuchadnezzar. The king could have avoided this humiliating fate if he genuinely humbled himself.
That they shall drive thee from men – That is, thou shalt be driven from the habitations of men; from the place which thou hast occupied among men. The prophet does not say “who” would do this, but he says that it “would” be done. The language is such as would be used of one who should become a maniac, and be thrust out of the ordinary society in which he had moved. The general sense is, that he would be in such a state as to be treated like a beast rather than a man; that he would be removed from his ordinary abodes, and be a miserable and neglected outcast.
4:26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
Insane king not killed for a vacant throne – superstitious ancients thought that mental disturbances were caused by evil spirits who would possess the instigator or seek other grievous revenge.
26. Shall be sure. Many have wondered why the insane king was not killed, or why his subjects and ministers of state did not placed someone else on the vacant throne during the time Nebuchadnezzar was incapacitated. The following explanation has been offered: Superstitious ancients thought that all mental disturbances were caused by evil spirits who took control of their victim; that if someone should kill the insane man, the spirit would take hold of the murderer or instigator of the crime; and that if his property should be confiscated or his office filled, a grievous revenge would be inflicted upon those responsible for the injustice. For this reason insane persons were removed from the society of men, but otherwise not molested (see 1Samuel 21:12 to 1Samuel 22:1).
And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
This was the good news. His kingdom was to remain his and not another’s in spite of his predicted insanity. While the king surely understood the negative implications of the flourishing tree followed by its destruction, Daniel’s revelation of a seven year time slot in which he would behave much like a cow must have seemed humorously absurd to him in the extreme.
For months the judgment of God lingered. But instead of being led to repentance by this forbearance, the king indulged his pride until he lost confidence in the interpretation of the dream, and jested at his former fears” [18].
• [18] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White, page 519
Consider the words “till thou shalt know that the most High” rules, and “after” this curse “thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule“. Note that while the knowledge of God’s power would be forcefully impressed upon him, it was still his choice to accept that knowledge without attributing his condition to something like an unfortunate illness brought on, perhaps, by one of his own heathen gods. In other words, the king still had to exercise his power of choice. God will never use force to compell worship.
And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots;
Now that the king has learned that he represents the great tree that was felled, the prophet now turns to interpret the reason why the tree’s stump (“iqqar”) and the roots (“shoresh”) were commanded to be left alone and intact.
Thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
Here we learn that God’s unique humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar will be temporary and that his seat as the ruler of the Babylonian kingdom would be restored to him. However, the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar’s throne and authority will only come “after” he knows, and more specifically acknowledges, that it is the God of the heavens above that rules rightly over the affairs of men.
And whereas they commanded – The watchers, Daniel 4:15. Compare Daniel 4:17.
To leave the stump of the tree roots – Or, to leave roots to the stump of the tree; that is, it was not to be dug up, or wholly destroyed, but vitality was to be left in the ground. The Chaldee here is the same as in Daniel 4:15, “leave the stump of his roots“.
Thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee – That is, thou shalt not die under this calamity, but after it has passed away shalt be restored to authority. It might have been supposed that this meant that the authority would survive in his family, and that those who were to succeed him would reign – as shoots spring up after the parent tree has fallen; but Daniel was directed to an interpretation which is not less in accordance with the fair meaning of the dream than this would have been.
After that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule – That God rules, This was the great lesson which the event was designed to teach, and when that should have been learned, there would be a propriety that he should be restored to his throne, and should proclaim this to the world.
27. For a time the impression of the warning and the counsel of the prophet was strong upon Nebuchadnezzar; but the heart that is not transformed by the grace of God soon loses the impressions of the Holy Spirit. Self–indulgence and ambition had not yet been eradicated from the king’s heart, and later on these traits reappeared. Notwithstanding the instruction so graciously given him, and the warnings of past experience, Nebuchadnezzar again allowed himself to be controlled by a spirit of jealousy against the kingdoms that were to follow. His rule, which heretofore had been to a great degree just and merciful, became oppressive. Hardening his heart, he used his God–given talents for self–glorification, exalting himself above the God who had given him life and power. [PK 519.1]
For months the judgement of God lingered. But instead of being led to repentance by this forbearance, the king indulged his pride until he lost confidence in the interpretation of the dream, and jested at his former fears. [PK 519.2]
A year from the time he had received the warning, Nebuchadnezzar, walking in his palace and thinking with pride of his power as a ruler and of his success as a builder, exclaimed, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” [PK 519.3]
4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
break off thy sins by righteousness – God’s judgements may be adverted by repentance and conversion (Isaiah 38:1,2 & 5, Jeremiah 18:7-10).
showing mercy – king admonished to practice righteousness towards all subjects and to exercise mercy towards the oppressed, miserable and poor (Micah 6:8) (Psalms 72:3-4, Isaiah 11:4).
27. Break off thy sins. Here a divine principle is communicated to the proud monarch. God’s judgments against men may be averted by repentance and conversion (see Isaiah 38:1, 2, 5; Jeremiah 18:7–10; Jonah 3:1–10). For this reason God announced the impending judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar but gave him a full year in which to repent, and thus avert the threatened calamity (see Daniel 4:29). However, the king did not change his way of life, and accordingly brought upon himself the execution of the judgment. By contrast, the Ninevites, given 40 days of respite, took advantage of the opportunity, and they and their city were spared (Jonah 3:4–10). “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). God forewarns peoples and nations of their impending doom. He sends a message to the world today, warning of its rapidly approaching end. Few may heed such warnings, but because adequate warning has been given them men will be without excuse in the day of calamity.
Shewing mercy. The king was admonished to practice righteousness toward all his subjects and to exercise mercy toward the oppressed, the miserable, and the poor (see Micah 6:8). These virtues are frequently listed together (see Psalms 72:3, 4; Isaiah 11:4).
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
This was good council for the king, and it is good council for us. Note that sinning cannot be overcome in a vacuum. It is “righteousness” or right-doing, doing the right thing in all circumstances that must be substituted for “sinning”. Evidently, in the case of the king, he was dealing severely with the “poor“. Quite likely the king had levied heavy taxation upon the citizens to pay for his expensive building projects or for the support of his military machine. Things may have been just about at the breaking point. But, instead of pointing those things out, Daniel endeavored to motivate the king to take the warning seriously if for no other reason than to ensure his own state of well being.
(27) Daniel, a good preacher, presses home the application: repent; perhaps it is not too late.
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Break off thy sins: The right reaction to the threat of judgment is a humble repentance. Unfortunately, Nebuchadnezzar did not do this. He should have followed the example of the repentance of Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3).
• We might think that Nebuchadnezzar had more reason than most to be proud – after all, he was a great king.
Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor: Nebuchadnezzar was not only counseled to stop sinning, but also to practice righteousness and generosity.
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee,
In the wake of this devastating interpretation, Daniel the prophet urges King Nebuchadnezzar to heed his godly counsel.
And break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor;
Specifically, Daniel urges the king to renounce his sins and to pursue righteousness. In addition, Daniel tells the king to turn back from his wicked and unjust ways and to show mercy and kindness to the poor and oppressed.
If it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Daniel urges the king to humble himself through repentance and pursue good works so as to potentially turn away God’s wrath and possibly delay the coming divine judgment.
 
(27) Daniel turns to the king with a call. What do we learn from this action?
• The disaster can be prevented, if the king commits his life to God.
• The judgment is linked to conditions and does not happen automatically. See Jonah and the judgment of Nineveh; see the principle in Jeremiah 18:6–10.
• Daniel can now address the king in a clearer way than ever before and call him to repentance.
• In addition to the call the text also contains a promise.
• Therefore, the dream should be understood as a warning.
(27) Daniel concluded with a bold exhortation for the king. What God had revealed would happen unless Nebuchadnezzar turned from his sins, practiced righteousness, and showed mercy to the poor. Clearly Nebuchadnezzar ruled with a heavy hand as well as a proud heart.
Thus any announced judgment may be averted if there is repentance (cf. the Book of Jonah and Jeremiah 18:7-10).
4:28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
Now, the narrative turns to describe the literal fulfilment of the events of the king’s prophetic dream in his own lifetime.
 
Daniel 4:28 introduces the fulfilment of what God had warned Nebuchadnezzar he could expect if he failed to repent. Perhaps he humbled himself initially, but after 12 months he was as proud as ever.
The Dream is Being Fulfilled
(28–30) In spite of the warning, judgment finally comes upon the king. What are the mistakes that Nebuchadnezzar made?
• Pride and arrogance
• Self-glorification – See the stress on “I” and “my”; by contrast, see Daniel 2:20–23.
• The desire to be independent of God
• Bad stewardship.
The root of the problem – All those I’s and My’s!
Daniel 4:28-32 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word [was] in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, [saying], O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling [shall be] with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will”.
The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is completely consistent and clear on this – “Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.” Proverbs 3:34. “… be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1Peter 5:5. “… God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6. Unfortunately, some people only learn from experience. They cannot be told the truth. But God has ways of humbling all those that would walk in pride and like some sickly medicine, it isn’t always nice, but it is for our own good!
Currently, there is that vivid manifestation of that strange principle, that strange mystery of iniquity that indwells each of us – pride. Somehow the king would have to go from ‘I and Me’ to ‘Him and He’! But it can be done, as we shall see in even the most hardened proud man. The fires of God would soon burn strongly upon this king of Babylon. And yet, through grace, he may just come through refined and not utterly consumed.
(28-33) All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word [was] in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, [saying], O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling [shall be] with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ [feathers], and his nails like birds’ [claws].
Because the king is depicted in the second person mode in these verses, it seems evident these words were penned by Daniel himself who must have personally witnessed the whole sad spectacle.
Since the scenario began exactly “twelve months” after receiving the warning, it must have been eight years in total. So, after “the end of twelve months” even after having been warned to “break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor“, the king’s voice was heard saying some famous, ego-centric, last words: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
His attitude illustrated the truth of Solomon’s words “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
So, “While the word [was] in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, [saying], as it were, that the “time” had come. Evidently, the “voice” was heard audibly, at least by the king and perhaps by the wise men who were in obsequious agreement with the king.
Note in the warning given by Daniel, nothing was said about a twelve month period of probation. But, though the time of leniency was long, and God’s patience was being presumptuously provoked by the king’s increasingly casual attitude, God bore long with him until it became absolutely clear that the “decree” must be executed in order to turn him around.  So, suddenly in the midst of his mirthful boastfulness and jocularity, his conversation suddenly became incoherent.
In a moment the reason that God had given him was taken away; the judgment that the king thought perfect, the wisdom on which he prided himself, was removed, and the once mighty ruler was a maniac. His hand could no longer sway the scepter. The messages of warning had been unheeded; now, stripped of the power his Creator had given him, and driven from men, Nebuchadnezzar ‘did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws’” [19].
• [19] Prophets and Kings by E.G. White, page 520
So, the change in Nebeuchadnezzar’s body was not only in his mind but his entire physical being. No normal human can subsist on “grass” alone and survive. The human stomach lacks the necessary enzymes that herbivorous animals are equipped with to break down cellulose, the material grass is largely composed of. So, while the alternations to his brain were supernatural, the same applies to his digestive tract.
There are no limits to the power of our great Creator who brought us into the world. He is able, not only take us out again, He can even modify our organism to suit His Divine purposes at any time.
We can only guess the circumstances that immediately took place when the king lost his mind, but, it is unlikely Daniel was nearby at the time, for he could have found no pleasure in the company of the king and his wise men while making sport of the warnings from heaven. However, the fulfilment of Daniel’s prediction could not have been kept secret.
Just as Daniel warned, he would live like a cow even to the point of falling down on all fours and eating grass, we are compelled to conclude that he also eliminated like one and had to be evicted very soon from his spotless palace! This marked the beginning of the seven year time span.
For seven years Nebuchadnezzar was an astonishment to all his subjects; for seven years he was humbled before all the world” [20]. “The jewel of the mind, that which elevates man above the beasts, he no longer retained. . . . The scepter is no longer held in the hand of a proud and powerful monarch. The mighty ruler is a maniac. He now herds with the cattle to eat as they eat. He is a companion of the beasts of the field. The brow that once wore a coronet is disfigured by the absence of reason and intellect” [21].
• [20] ibid
• [21] Testimonies for the Church by E.G. White Vol.8 page 127 (ellipses mine)
Fulfilment of the dream.
(28-33) Nebuchadnezzar is stricken with madness, and humbled.
At the end of the twelve months: God gave Nebuchadnezzar twelve months to repent, and he probably forgot about the dream during that time – but God didn’t forget.
Is not this great Babylon: Babylon was truly one of the spectacular cities of the ancient world, which included the famous hanging gardens built by Nebuchadnezzar.
• Daniel knew that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), something previously thought untrue and only verified by recent archaeology. Nobody in the Maccabean period (second century BC) thought Nebuchadnezzar had built the new Babylon.
• In the British Museum, there are six columns of writing recovered from Babylon which describe the huge building projects of Nebuchadnezzar and his zeal to enlarge and beautify the city.
• Most of the bricks found in the excavations of Babylon carry this stamp: “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, supporter of Esagila and Ezida, exalted first-born son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon”.
They shall drive you from men… eat grass like oxen: The announcement came to Nebuchadnezzar in the same words he heard in his dream. This showed him that the dream was about to be fulfilled, and he would be reduced to the existence of an animal – specifically, an ox.
• The form of insanity in which men think of themselves as animals and imitate the behavior of an animal has been observed. Some call it generally insania zoanthropica and more specifically in Nebuchadnezzar’s case, boanthropy, the delusion that one is an ox.
• A Dr. Raymond Harrison of Britain, in 1946, had a patient suffering from boanthropy, just as Nebuchadnezzar suffered.
He was driven from men and ate grass like oxen: There is no corresponding record of this seven-year (seven times) period of insanity in the secular historical records of Babylon – exactly as we would expect, considering the customs of that time. Nevertheless, Abydenus, a Greek historian, wrote in 268 BC that Nebuchadnezzar was “possessed by some god” and that he had “immediately disappeared”.
• Some dismiss this account of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness as unhistorical, but there is no historical record of his governmental activity between 582 BC and 575 BC. This silence is deafening, especially when we keep in mind how Near Eastern leaders liked to egotistically trumpet their achievements – and hide their embarrassments.
• Nebuchadnezzar was given the opportunity to humble himself, and he did not. Now God humbled him, and the experience was much more severe than it would have been had Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself.
Drive you from men… make you eat grass like oxen… wet you with the dew of heaven: When Daniel explained this to Nebuchadnezzar, the king probably couldn’t guess just how literally it would be fulfilled.
4:29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
God’s time of twelve months – no Nebuchadnezzar change in way of life.
in the palace – literally ‘ upon the palace’.
29. In the palace. Literally, “upon the palace”. It is not known from which palace Nebuchadnezzar viewed the city. It was possibly either from the roof of the famous hanging gardens, whose thick and strong foundation walls have been excavated, or from the new Summer Palace in the northern sections of the new city quarters, now the ruined mound known as Babil.
At the end of twelve months
The fulfilment of the specific judgments upon King Nebuchadnezzar, as foretold by the prophet Daniel, begin to come to pass twelve months after the prophet’s encounter with the king.
He walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
God’s ordained judgment upon King Nebuchadnezzar, which will be described in graphic detail in the final verses of this Chapter, begins its fulfilment as the king walked upon the top of his royal palace.
 
At the end of twelve months – After the dream, and the interpretation – giving him ample opportunity to repent, and to reform his life, and to avoid the calamity.
He walked in the palace – Margin, “upon”. The margin is the more correct rendering. The roofs of houses in the East are made flat, and furnish a common place of promenade, especially in the cool of the evening.
Of the kingdom of Babylon – Appertaining to that kingdom; the royal residence.
(29-30) Archaeologists have discovered ancient documents in which Nebuchadnezzar boasted of the glory and splendor of Babylon.
Josephus quoted the ancient writer Berossus who in his Chaldaic History gave a description of Nebuchadnezzar’s building activities. [Josephus, 10:11:1].
The discovery of cuneiform inscriptions has confirmed that Nebuchadnezzar was primarily a builder and not a warrior.
Lessons from a foolish person
It is good to remember that this Chapter is a written testimony by Nebuchadnezzar to the then known world. He personally learnt a lot through this time and so can we.
In the beginning
If we go back to the beginning, back to Genesis, we find something interesting. When God created the animal kingdom he gave them something that would govern their actions and be their guide for how they should live and operate. We call that something ‘instinct’.  [22]  To mankind he didn’t give instinct. He gave Himself. His presence, His life, represented by the tree of life, was to be mankind’s guide. Mankind was not programmed to operate instinctively but was designed to live in dependence upon God and His life within them. Well, that was the plan… until a voice arose in the garden…
• [22] An old sermon by Major Ian Thomas was about the wonder of the animal kingdom and specifically, bees. Did you know that within the hive different bees are assigned different tasks? Some bees simply clean the hive. Some continue to build the hive using mathematically perfect hexagonal cells of wax. Others flap their wings to circulate air and keep the hive at a constant temperature. Others go out looking for nectar and when they have found some they do a little dance inside the hive which instructs the others bees where to find it! How do they do all this? Instinct! God has programmed within them the knowledge of how to do these things. No one has to teach them. Instinct governs their actions.
In his sermon, Major Ian asks what would happen if instinct within the bee kingdom suddenly snapped! Imagine if the bees decided that they were sick and tired of having to do what the other bees want. Imagine if those assigned to keeping the hive at a constant temperature suddenly decide that they are not going flap any more. ‘Go and do your own flapping’ they say ‘I’ve been flapping for months without even a word of thanks!’ ‘Well, I’m not dancing any more. No more telling you bees where the nectar is to be found. You’re always riding on my wings… you find your own nectar. This is mine!’
Major Ian spoke about what we would end up with if instinct snapped and it was every bee for himself. It would be chaos and the breakdown of the bee kingdom. And yet that is what mankind decided to do in the garden. They chose to go it alone without God. Every man for himself!
Ye shall not surely die” the serpent said to the woman. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil“.
In other words – ‘you don’t need to live dependant upon God. You can be like God! You can know good and evil. You can gain knowledge and not be trapped needing God. You can make your own rules, your own decisions… You can go your own way and be your own person. Just break free from God and you can be your own God!
Satan is a deceitful sales person. They bought the lie and were sold a lemon… Instead of freedom they received a life long battle and bondage to self centeredness. Instead of liberating knowledge they received pride, smugness and independence. So when king Nebuchadnezzar stands in great pride on his balcony overlooking his kingdom and sings praises to himself, he is only verbalising that which dwells within the heart of most of us – Pride and independence. It is over six thousand years since the fall of man but nothing has changed. “[there is] no new [thing] under the sun” [23].  The first lesson that Nebuchadnezzar, and mankind in general, had to learn was obedience. Do you obey God? Or do you self by disobeying Him?
• [23] But thankfully there can be something new under the Son! Only in Christ are things made new. Without accepting Jesus Christ, everything will remain the same. We are what we are, until the day that we die.
4:30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
At least 2 inscriptions found in excavated ruins of Babylon testify to this proud boast.
Actual building of Babylon occurred after the Flood – Nebuchadnezzar’s father commenced the rebuilding, he only completed the works and built the extensions.
30. That I have built. Students of ancient Babylonian history are reminded of these proud words when reading the claims the king makes in his inscriptions, which have been preserved amid the dust and debris of Babylon’s ruins. On one of these inscriptions the proud king proclaims, “Then built I the palace, the seat of my royalty, the bond of the race of men, the dwelling of exultation and rejoicing”. In another text he says, “In Babylon, the city which I prefer, which I love, was the palace, the amazement of the people, the bond of the land, the brilliant palace, the abode of majesty on the ground of Babylon”. That Nebuchadnezzar had valid reasons to be proud of his marvellous creation, have been shown by excavations.
Nebuchadnezzar’s claim to have “built” Babylon must not be interpreted as referring to the founding of the city, which actually took place shortly after the Flood (Genesis 11:1– 9; cf. Daniel 10:10). The reference is to the great work of rebuilding which his father, Nabopolassar, began, and which Nebuchadnezzar completed. Nebuchadnezzar’s building activities were so extensive as to eclipse all previous accomplishments. It has been said that little could be seen that had not been erected in his time. This was true of the palaces, temples, walls, and even of the residential sections. The size of the city had been more than doubled by the addition of new areas to old Babylon, as suburbs on both sides of the river Euphrates.
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon,
As the king walked upon the top of his royal palace, he opens his mouth to declare the greatness of his royal city. His reference to “Babylon the great” should not be lost on Bible prophecy students who will recognize this phrase from the Book of Revelation. (See Revelation 17, 18)
That I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
Here, we see that Nebuchadnezzar’s boast goes well beyond nationalistic pride. In addition to boasting of “Babylon the great“, he takes full credit for its immense royal power. He specifically boasts of this ancient kingdom as being built by — and for — him through the “might” or strength of his own “power” and for the precious “glory” of his own human majesty. Clearly, the king has forgotten his place as God’s servant and has, instead, come to falsely believe that the grandeur of “Babylon the great” is ultimately purposed for his own glorification. As we will see, Nebuchadnezzar is in for a change of life.
 
4:31 While the word [was] in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, [saying], O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
fell – cf. Isaiah 9:8 – lighted.
This immediate utterance lead to Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation – had others also heard these heavenly words?
31. There fell a voice. Compare Isaiah 9:8, where “lighted” is literally, “fell“. The proud utterance is immediately followed by the king’s humiliation. It is not stated whether this voice was heard by the king alone or whether his entourage also heard the heavenly words.
One day while Nebuchadnezzar was walking on the palace roof, God Himself spoke, telling Nebuchadnezzar that his authority had been taken away (verse 31). The change came immediately and Nebuchadnezzar left the palace to live with animals in nature (verse 33). As we can see, self-exaltation is really self-destructive.
O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
The voice speaking from heaven issued an incredibly harsh edict that effectively stripped Nebuchadnezzar of his sovereignty over the Babylonian empire, in direct fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy regarding the king’s fearsome dream. Scripture is clear when it tells us that “God resists the proud“, as this passage is proof.
 
While the word [was] in the king’s mouth – In the very act of speaking – thus showing that there could be no doubt as to the connection between the crime and the punishment.
There fell a voice from heaven – There came a voice; or, perhaps, it seemed to fall as a thunderbolt. It was uttered above him, and appeared to come from heaven. There was an important sense in which it did fall from heaven, for it was the voice of God.
[saying], O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken – For you it is particularly intended; or what is predicted is now spoken to thee.
The kingdom is departed from thee – Thou art about to cease to reign. Up to this time he retained his reason, that he might distinctly understand the source from where the judgment was to come, and why it was brought upon him, and that he might be prepared, when he should be recovered from his insanity, to testify clearly to the origin and the nature of the judgment.
(31–33) The verdict is executed right away, and the prediction is fulfilled (compare with Acts 12:21– 23). God does not always react immediately. In any case, whatever Nebuchadnezzar was unwilling to learn in good times he has to learn under difficult circumstances until he is willing to accept that God is the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity may be indirectly referred to in historical sources.
(31-33) No sooner had the king articulated his pride, than he heard a voice from heaven pronouncing the punishment that Daniel had warned might come upon him. Immediately something snapped in his mind and he became like an animal. “Hair as eagle feathers” pictures hair that is neglected and matted as well as long. He did not think to trim his fingernails and toenails, either. His judgment is a sobering reminder that we are all but a breath or a heartbeat from insanity, or death, but for God’s grace. It is He who sustains us moment by moment (John 15:5; Colossians 1:17). The humbling of proud rulers is a common theme in Scripture (cf. Deuteronomy 17:14-20; Psalms 92; Proverbs 16:5-7; Proverbs 16:12; Isaiah 10:5 to Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 14:4-23; Ezekiel 17:23-24; Ezekiel 19:10-14; Ezekiel 28; Ezekiel 31:5-6; Ezekiel 31:12-13; Acts 12:23).
It would not have been abnormal for Nebuchadnezzar’s enemies in Babylon to kill him and take his place. The fact that this did not happen during the time of the king’s breakdown is another tribute to God’s sovereignty. He kept affairs under control, so that when Nebuchadnezzar recovered, he could continue to rule. One wonders what role Daniel might have played in protecting the king, and encouraging the other royal officials to expect and plan for Nebuchadnezzar’s restoration.
Nebuchadnezzar‘s Conversion
(31–34) What does Nebuchadnezzar express with these verses?
• He does not blame God for his sickness.
• He praises God and prays to Him.
• He acknowledges God as the only sovereign Lord. We are dust, while God is eternal and omnipotent. God does all things right (see Romans 8:28). God loves humility.
• Nebuchadnezzar is converted to God.
When the king looked up to God and entered into a relationship with Him, he was healed. In addition, he got back his kingly office. Let us be “Looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), and not to humans. Nevertheless, people who love the Lord can be of great help on our journey to God. It is conceivable that without Daniel Nebuchadnezzar may not have found God.
4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling [shall be] with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling [shall be] with the beasts of the field:
Here, we see the unfolding of the king’s prophetic dream, as correctly interpreted by Daniel, becomes a reality. The proud and boastful king is stripped of his sovereignty and is to be expelled from the presence of his fellow man (human society) so that he may live in the wild among the beasts of the field.
They shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee,
The formerly proud and majestic king of Babylon will now eat the grass of the earth like an ox. This utterly humiliating punishment would continue for “seven times“, which Spirit of Prophecy confirms is seven years.
Until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
What is the purpose of this forced humiliation of the king of “Babylon the great“? The Lord reveals His purpose in this act is to remind the boastful and proud king of his true condition as a mere pawn in God’s Hand. That is, the Most High God is the rightful ruler over all of man’s “kingdoms” at all times. And as the rightful ruler, he gives royal power to those of His choosing, as it pleases Him. King Nebuchadnezzar will have to learn this lesson the hard way. But, as the text reveals, he will recognize the truth of God’s ultimate sovereignty through seven years of intense humiliation.
 
And they shall drive thee from men … – See Daniel 4:25.
And seven times shall pass over thee – See  Daniel 4:16.
33. Some Today Like Nebuchadnezzar.–We are living in the last days of this earth’s history, and we may be surprised at nothing in the line of apostasies and denials of the truth. Unbelief has now come to be a fine art, which men work at to the destruction of their souls. There is constant danger of there being shams in pulpit preachers, whose lives contradict the words they speak; but the voice of warning and of admonition will be heard as long as time shall last; and those who are guilty of transactions that should never be entered into, when reproved or counseled through the Lord’s appointed agencies, will resist the message and refuse to be corrected. They will go on as did Pharaoh, and Nebuchadnezzar, until the Lord takes away their reason, and their hearts become unimpressible. The Lord’s Word will come to them; but if they choose not to hear it, the Lord will make them responsible for their own ruin (NL No. 31, p. 1).  [4BC 1170.4]
4:33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ [feathers], and his nails like birds’ [claws].
33. Fulfilled. Many commentators have identified Nebuchadnezzar’s malady as a form of insanity in which men think themselves animals and imitate the beasts’ manner of life.
An ancient example of such mental maladies has been attested. An unpublished cuneiform tablet in the British Museum mentions a man who ate grass like a cow – the insanity could have been such where men think themselves to be animals and imitate the beast’s manner of life. It may not be necessary to identify Nebuchadnezzar’s malady precisely or to equate it with anything known to medical science today. The experience may have been unique.
Eagles’ [feathers]. The word “feathers” is supplied. Hair, when unkempt and long exposed to the influences of rough weather and to the rays of the sun, becomes hard and unruly.
The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar:
The Word of the Lord is now immediately confirmed and fulfilled
And he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen,
In fulfilment of the prophecy, the king is chased away from human society and grazes on grass like the oxen.
And his body was wet with the dew of heaven,
In direct fulfilment of the prophecy, the king lives in the wild and his body is covered in heaven’s dew, just as the beasts of the field.
Till his hairs were grown like eagles’ [feathers], and his nails like birds’ [claws].
Living the life of a beast, Nebuchadnezzar even came to resemble a beast. His hair grew long (like an eagle’s long feathers) and his unkempt and untrimmed nails came to resemble the claws of a bird.
 
The same hour was the thing fulfilled – On the word hour, see Daniel 4:19. The use of the word here would seem to confirm the suggestion there made that it means a brief period of time. The idea is clearly that it was done instantly. The event came suddenly upon him, without any interval, as he was speaking.
Till his hairs were grown like eagles’ [feathers] – By long neglect and inattention. The correct idea is, that his hair was neglected until in appearance it resembled the feathers of a bird.
Spiritual highs are often reached through personal lows 
(4:33) Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
As we continue looking at Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony we read the above, dramatic, turn of events! One minute wallowing in pride and self exaltation… the next being brought right down to ground level (quite literally!). The one who ruled the people now can’t even control himself. He who dined on the choicest of foods now feeds on grass. He who wore the royal robes is now covered by thick hair like feathers.
To turn from yourself to God requires that you truly know yourself and have gotten over yourself! And that often (but not always) requires humbling before God. So how low does the king go? He is taken right back to grass roots. His severe pride required a severe humbling. [24]  But always remember that God has a purpose in all that He does and it is not to simply humiliate someone! God loved Nebuchadnezzar.
• [24] As previously stated the king’s illness has a name – It’s called Boanthropy and it means that you imagine yourself to be an animal and act accordingly. Boanthropy is a psychological disorder in which a human believes themselves to be a bovine.
4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation:
end of the days – after 7 years.
lifted up mine eyes unto heaven – The king’s return of reason occurred with his recognition of the true God. From brute beast to a being bearing the image of God.
The first desire of the once proud king is to praise God.
34. End of the days. That is, the end of the “seven times“, or seven years, predicted for the continuation of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness (see verse 16).
Lifted up mine eyes. It is significant to notice that the return of reason is said to have come to the king with his recognition of the true God. When the humbled king prayerfully looked up to heaven he was elevated from the condition of a brute beast to that of a being bearing the image of God. The one who for years had helplessly lain on the ground in his debasement was once more lifted up to the dignity of manhood which God has granted His creatures formed after His likeness. The essential feature of the miracle that occurred in Nebuchadnezzar’s case is still repeated—even if in a less spectacular manner—in the conversion of every sinner.
I blessed the most High. It speaks well for the once proud king, that after his dreadful experience his first desire was to thank God, to praise Him as the ever-living One, and to recognize the eternity of His rulership.
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven” (verse 34) and praised God, honored Him, glorified Him, and recognized Him for who He is. Immediately, his sanity returned, he was given back his throne, and “and excellent majesty was added unto me” (verse 36). No doubt, those who walk in pride God is able to “abase” – “humble” (verse 37).
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me,
Here begins the testimony of King Nebuchadnezzar after suffering his intense and humiliating experience. After the seven years, the sanity and knowledge of the king were restored to him.
And I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever,
Upon regaining his sanity, the king’s first action was to bless, praise, and honor the One who had judged him for his pride: God Most High. This represents an act of great wisdom on the king’s part. Instead of blaming God for His corrective action, the king blesses, praises, and honors the Eternal Father.
Whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation:
The king has certainly changed his tune! Before he was humbled by God, the king had been focused upon the greatness and might of his own dominion and kingdom. In the wake of his correction, he sees the folly and error of his ways and instead focuses upon the everlasting kingdom and dominion of Almighty God.
 
And at the end of the days – That is, the time designated; to wit, the “seven times” that were to pass over him.
I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven – Probably the first thing that indicated returning reason.
And mine understanding returned unto me – This shows that he regarded himself as having been a maniac, though doubtless he was ignorant of the manner in which he had been treated.
And I blessed the Most High – For his recovery, and in an humble acknowledgment of his dependence.
And I praised and honored him – That is, I honored him by rendering thanks for his restoring mercy, by recognizing him as the true God, and by the acknowledging of the truth that he has a right to reign, and that his kingdom is over all.
That liveth for ever – He is the living God, as he is often styled, in contradistinction from all false gods – who have no life; and he lives forever in contradistinction to his creatures on earth, all of whom are destined to die. He will live when all on earth shall have died; he will live forever in the future, as he has lived forever in the past.
Whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion – His empire extends through all time, and will continue while eternal ages roll away.
And his kingdom [is] from generation to generation – The generations of men change, and monarchs die. But the dominion of God is unchanged.
When it looks like there is not way out – Remember Nebuchadnezzar.
This man was acting as an animal. It makes you wonder, as he was munching on the grass in the field, whether he ever just stopped and thought – ‘How did it come to this? I was once a king and now I’m a lunatic! I used to eat at banquets and now I munch out on grass! All because of my stubborn proud heart! I wonder if I’ll ever get out of this?’ As low as you may be now, or in the future, you probably will not be as low as Nebuchadnezzar. His testimony is that, as low as you may go, God is still able to elevate and restore that which was lost. There is no hole so deep that God cannot lift you out [25].
• [25] The Bible is of course full of such amazing occurrences of men and women who have been raised from the depths. We could talk of Job and all that he went through… yet God restored all that he had lost. We could talk of Joseph, wrongly accused and thrown into prison until the timing of God was such that he should be exalted and made ruler over Egypt! We could talk of a wicked king of Judah called Manasseh who was taken with a hook in his nose and shackles on his feet down into a dungeon in Babylon. And yet, in the depths of his despair he called on God with a repentant heart and God lifted him out of that hole and through pure grace he ended up in the line and genealogy of Jesus! (2Chronicles 33). Or what about the thief on the cross? Remember that at the start of the crucifixion both of the thief’s were mocking Jesus?
In the depths of Nebuchadnezzar’s trial he raised his eyes toward heaven. He praised the Most High. There was nothing left of self that was praise worthy. There was no palace, power, pleasure nor prosperity any more; and probably no peace of mind until he turned to God. All was stripped away until only God remained. And as he raised his eyes toward God his sanity was restored! What an amazing testimony! What a great lesson to learn.
(34-35) And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
While some were watching the sundial, others were watching the king who was leisurely consuming grass along with the cattle. When the time arrived, the king suddenly “lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me“, at the exact year, month, week, day, hour and second that were recorded seven years prior.
We have no way of assessing the king’s awareness during those seven years. Nevertheless, we can be certain that the things that happened to him, not only made a deep impression, they also produced the change in his thinking that the “Watcher” and the “holy ones” had desired.
(34-37) The Holy Spirit worked on Nebuchadnezzar’s stubborn heart for many years before he surrendered his life to the God of heaven. The patience God showed toward Nebuchadnezzar gives us home as He continues to work with us and those we love.
(34-37) A repentant Nebuchadnezzar is restored, and praises God.
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works [are] truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
And at the end of the days: Nebuchadnezzar could not break free from his madness until God appointed the end of the time. Then he had the opportunity to humble himself and lift his eyes to heaven.
I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him: Nebuchadnezzar could only see the truth about himself when he first saw the truth about God. The Babylonian King did see who God was, and he eloquently praised His sovereignty. After this his reason returned.
• This return of reason results in worship. O worship the King! We do not worship enough. Worship him with lowliest reverence, for you are nothing, and he is all in all.
• This return of reason results in prayer. If we believe what Nebuchadnezzar believed about God, it will certainly show in our prayer life. We will know that God can change the heart and mind of man, the course of rivers, the flow of the oceans, the distribution of resources, and the assignment of angels. The result is that we:
• Have a heart of humble adoration.
• Show a heart of unquestioning acceptance.
• Exercise the spirit of reverent love.
• Let our spirit have profound delight.
I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me: God wanted to restore Nebuchadnezzar. The goal wasn’t to bring him low, but to bring him to his proper place before God and among men. Truly, Nebuchadnezzar learned that those who walk in pride He is able to put down.
The abiding lesson is plainGod resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6). There have been many who rise from humble origins to great glory, and then fall. Perhaps it is better to have never been raised up than to rise and then fall. Most, if not all, fall through pride; and a proud look is number one on the list of God’s most hated sins (Proverbs 6:16-19 – A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren).
• We also see that God will glorify himself among the nations. When Nebuchadnezzar took some of the treasures of the Jerusalem temple and put them in the temples of his gods, he had reason to believe that his gods were stronger than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By the end of Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar knew which God was the true God. And when Nebuchadnezzar knew it, he wasn’t shy about telling people what he had learned – he was a true witness, giving testimony to God’s great works.
• Some find prophetic significance in this account. Since Babylon is used in the Scriptures as a figure of the world system in general, we can say:
• Nebuchadnezzar’s madness foreshadows the madness of Gentile nations in their rejection of God.
• Nebuchadnezzar’s fall typifies Jesus’ judgment of the nations.
• Nebuchadnezzar’s restoration foreshadows the restoring of some of these nations in the millennial kingdom.
Only the things of God last forever
(34-37) His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing . He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’
In Chapter 2 of Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a great statue. He, and his kingdom, were said to be the head of gold in that statue. Then the king was told that God would set up His own kingdom that would replace all man-made earthly kingdoms? The king then went and built his own image all in gold signifying that his kingdom would not be defeated nor be demolished.
Well, that brings us to the next lesson that God required this king to learn. That is that only the things of God last forever. Most people spend a fair amount of time building up their own little kingdom down here on earth while often forgetting about the eternal kingdom, and forgetting how temporary their lives are on this planet. They forget that only the things of God last forever. It was to this attitude that Isaiah spoke when he said:
The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh [is] grass, and all the goodliness thereof [is] as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people [is] grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Isaiah 40:6-8. [26].
• [26] It was this same lesson that Jesus tried to teach his listeners where he spoke:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21.
King Nebuchadnezzar learned his lesson! Once he was restored he no longer spoke of how great he or his kingdom was. No, his language and thoughts were now upon eternal things. Read what he wrote to all the peoples and nations once again in verse 34. Remember that this is his testimony to the then known world! So what did he tell them? Basically that it’s not about you and your little kingdom. God doesn’t regard man like other men do! If you want to be part of something that truly lasts then it’s all about God’s kingdom and His rule. Everything else is nothing. Nebuchadnezzar learned this lesson the hard way – only the things of God last forever.
(34-37) The narrative resumes in the first person, adding the force of personal testimony to the story that the king had been telling. “Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven” implies that Nebuchadnezzar finally came to the end of himself-and sought divine help from God.
Nothing is more insane than human pride. Nothing is more sober and sensible than to praise God.
The king described the Lord as “the Most High“, “He who lives forever“, and “the King of heaven” in these verses. It is difficult to prove conclusively from the text that the monarch fully repented and then kept his faith in God, but that is a distinct possibility in view of these titles and his accompanying praise.
4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
35. As nothing. Compare Isaiah 40:17. The second half of this verse has a close parallel in Isaiah 43:13. Some have suggested the possibility that in his association with Daniel the king had become acquainted with the words of Isaiah, and that they came suddenly back to his mind. The confession was a marvellous one, coming, as it did, from the mouth of the once proud monarch. It is the testimony of a penitent convert, a statement from the heart of a man who had learned by experience to know and to revere God.
And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing:
As the king’s sanity is restored, his wisdom also appears to have increased as he correctly discerns that man has no control over the Most High God of heaven. This phrase is reminiscent of the prophet Isaiah’s writings: “Behold, the nations [are] as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon [is] not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him [are] as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity“. (Isaiah 40:15-17)
And he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth:
The king rightly admits that man cannot thwart the will of God once it is purposed. (See Job 42:2; Psalm 115:3, 135:6; Isaiah 14:27)
And none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Additionally, the king admits the utter futility of mankind attempting to call the motives or intentions of the Most High God into question. Again, Nebuchadnezzar’s revelation is similar to that shared in Isaiah’s prophetic writings: “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?” (Isaiah 29:16)
Many centuries later, the Apostle Paul makes the same point when he writes: “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20)
God is the potter and we are the clay. Prideful men cannot see this. But the humbled King Nebuchadnezzar now shouts it from the rooftops.
 
And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing – Are regarded as nothing in comparison with him. Compare Isaiah 40:15 and 17. Precisely the same sentiment occurs in Isaiah which is expressed here: “All nations before him [are] as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity“.
And he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven – In the host of heaven – Greek, “in the power of heaven”. The Chaldee word means properly strength, might, valor; and it is then applied to an army as possessing strength, or valor, or force. It is here applied to the inhabitants of heaven, probably considered as an army or host, of which God is the head, and which he leads forth or marshals to execute his puroses. In Daniel 3:20, the word is rendered “army“. The sentiment here is, that in respect to the inhabitants of heaven, represented as organized or marshalled, God does his own pleasure. An intimation of his will is all that is needful to control them. This sentiment is in accordance with all the statements in the Scripture, and is a point of theology which must enter into every just view of God. Thus in the Lord’s prayer it is implied: “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven“. So Ephesians 1:11 – “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will“. In heaven the will of God is accomplished in the most strict and absolute sense, for his will is law, and the only law to all the dwellers there. The obedience is as entire as if the will of each one of the dwellers there were but a form or manifestation of the will of God itself.
And among the inhabitants of the earth – This cannot mean, even as understood by Nebuchadnezzar, that the will of God is actually done among the inhabitants of the earth in the same sense, and to the same extent, as among those who dwell in heaven. His design was, undoubtedly, to assert the supremacy and absolute control of God; a fact that had been so strikingly illustrated in his own case.
And none can stay his hand – literally, “none can smite upon his hand”; that is, none can restrain his hand.
Or say unto him, What doest thou? – A similar expression occurs in 2Samuel 16:10 : “So let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” Also in Job 9:12 : “Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?” The meaning here is plain. God is supreme, and will do his pleasure in heaven and in earth.
4:36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
In simple Semitic narrative, verse 36 repeats verse 34.
returned unto me – Nebuchadnezzar also gained his royal dignity and his throne.
sought unto me – the King, monitored for improvement, then regents of state brought him back to restore the government to him.
36. Returned unto me. With the restoration of his understanding Nebuchadnezzar also regained his royal dignity and his throne. In order to show the close connection between the return of reason and his restoration to sovereignty, this verse restates (see verse 34) the first element of his restoration. The second follows immediately, in the simple manner of Semitic narrative. An English narrator would have said, “When my understanding returned, then also my royal state and glory returned”.
Sought unto me. The word “sought” does not necessarily indicate that during the period of his insanity the king was allowed to wander about in the fields and desert without supervision, but it denotes the seeking of a person with a view to his official position. When it became known that the king’s reason had returned, the regents of state brought him back with all due respect in order that they might restore the government to him again. During his insanity these men had carried on the affairs of government.
At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom,
After Nebuchadnezzar suffers a lengthy and humiliating experience, it pleased God to fully return him to his former state. Along with the return of his sanity, the king’s majesty and splendor, as well as the glory of his kingdom, are restored. God’s mercy coupled with Nebuchadnezzar’s humility leads to restoration. As the proverb says: “By humility [and] the fear of the LORD [are] riches, and honour, and life“. (Proverbs 22:4)
And my counsellors and my lords sought unto me;
After behaving like a beast of the field for years, the humbled king must have been pleasantly surprised to see that the ministers and nobles of his government did not shun him but, rather, sought him out to meet with him once again.
And I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
Not only was Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom fully reinstated to him. So too, the greatness of his restored kingdom was greater (“added“) than at the first.
 
At the same time my reason returned unto me – Showing that he regarded himself as having been insane.
And for the glory of my kingdom – That is, his restoration to the exercise of his reason contributed to the glory of his kingdom, either by the acts of justice and beneficence which he intended should characterize the remainder of his reign, or by his purpose to reform the abuses which had crept into the government while he was deprived of his reason, or by his determination to complete public works which had been purposed or commenced before his affliction.
Mine honor and brightness returned unto me – Evidently referring to his intellect. He was again restored to that strength and clearness of understanding by which, before his affliction, he had been able to do so much for the glory of his kingdom.
And my counselors and my lords sought unto me – As they had done formerly. During his state of mental alienation, of course, the great lords of the empire would not resort to him for counsel.
And excellent majesty was added unto me – Majesty and honor appropriate to my state, instead of the treatment incident to the condition of a maniac; Theodotion renders this, “and greater majesty was added to me”. It is by no means improbable that additional honor would be conferred on the recovered monarch.
(36-37) At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works [are] truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
(4:2) I thought it good to show the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
Another lesson that we can learn from the king is simply what he did with this great experience that God gave him – He told others about it! Remember that Chapter 4 of Daniel is the personal testimony of the king that he sent out for all to read and hear. Too often we keep the things of God out of conversation for fear of what others may think. Not this king! He spoke and I have no doubt that his words and testimony changed peoples lives as God spoke to them.
(36-37) Even as Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God’s sovereignty, endless existence and rule, and His irresistible will and power, his sanity returned to him. His public decree, as well as his public confession of inferiority to God, show the genuineness of his repentance-as does God’s greater subsequent blessing of him (cf. Job).
This tremendously important principle had to be established in the minds of the captive Jews, serving out their years of bondage in Babylonia. . . . The captive Jews needed to know that even the apparently limitless power of Nebuchadnezzar was under the control of the Lord God Almighty, who still cared for them and had a great future for them in their land. Therefore, each episode recorded in the first six Chapters concludes with a triumphant demonstration of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness and his ability to crush the pride of unconverted mankind.
There seems to be prophetic significance in this incident as well as in the one in Chapter 3. Even though God has appointed Gentiles to a place of prominence in His program during the times of the Gentiles, yet most nations and people walk in rebellion against God. . . . God’s judgment on Nebuchadnezzar, designed to subject him to God’s authority, seems to prefigure God’s judgment on the nations to subject them to the authority of the One who has been given the right to rule.
37. Nebuchadnezzar Thoroughly Converted.–In Daniel’s life, the desire to glorify God was the most powerful of all motives. He realized that when standing in the presence of men of influence, a failure to acknowledge God as the source of his wisdom would have made him an unfaithful steward. And his constant recognition of the God of heaven before kings, princes, and statesmen, detracted not one iota from his influence. King Nebuchadnezzar, before whom Daniel so often honored the name of God, was finally thoroughly converted, and learned to “praise and extol and honour the King of heaven” (RH Jan. 11, 1906).  [4BC 1170.5]
A Warm and Eloquent Testimony.–The king upon the Babylonian throne became a witness for God, giving his testimony, warm and eloquent, from a grateful heart that was partaking of the mercy and grace, the righteousness and peace, of the divine nature (YI Dec. 13, 1904).  [4BC 1170.6]
4:37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
Nebuchadnezzar had learned at last the lesson which all rulers need to learn–that true greatness consists in true goodness. He acknowledged Jehovah as the living God (PK521).
37. Praise and extol. This is Nebuchadnezzar’s conclusion to his proclamation, in which, as a converted sinner, he recognized the righteousness of God. His confession that God is “King of heaven” expressed his reverence toward his newfound God. The healed monarch of Babylon had learned well his lesson (see PK 521; EGW, Supplementary Material, on this verse). On the progressive character of Nebuchadnezzar’s understanding of God see Daniel 2:47; 3:28.
Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works [are] truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
Note the absence of any trace of pride in this verse. The “decree” executed by the “watcher” and the “watchers” had done its work. Nebuchadnezzar is now a converted man more than willing to render “praise” and “honour” to “the King of heaven“.
In the place of pride, he now gratefully takes second place to Daniel’s God clearly admitting that his “pride” had been fully humbled. For all we can see, he had just been shaped and honed for citizenship in the stone kingdom that will grow up and fill “the whole earth” (Daniel 2;35).
This is the last we hear of king Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel except for the time when Daniel was brought before his last successor Belshazzar and was required to interpret the mysterious handwriting on the wall of the palace.
Before beginning his exposition, Daniel, using far less tact with this king, turned his attention to “Nebuchadnezzar [his] father” to whom “the most high God gave . . . a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour” (Daniel 5:18). He then praised Nebuchadnezzar’s decision-making ability (sorely lacking in the case of Belshazzar) saying “whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down” (Daniel 5:19).
Daniel then referred to the very incident (Daniel 5:21) Nebuchadnezzar himself had recorded in this Chapter and said to Belshazzar: “though thou knewest all this” you still did not “humble thine heart“. (Daniel .5:22). So, other than what we find briefly in the next Chapter, this is the last of what we hear about Nebuchadnezzar who is featured in the first four Chapters of the Book of Daniel.
According to historians, Nebuchadnezzar died in the year 562 BC.
At this point in the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon featured in Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4, comes to his end. His part in Daniel’s narrative scenario is finished. Even though he was “an idolater by birth and training, and at the head of an idolatrous people, he had nevertheless and innate sense of justice and right, and God was able to use him . . “.[27]
• [27] Prophets and Kings pages 514, 515
Considering the closing thoughts recorded by Nebuchadnezzar himself in the last four verses of this Chapter, it appears God had not only been “able to use him” to carry out His earthly purposes, He was also able to create in him a “new heart” making him one of “the kings of the earth” who will ultimately “bring the glory and honour of the nations” to “the holy city, new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:24, 2) that John saw “coming down from God out of heaven” in the future.
Thus, we see demonstrated another example of God’s selecting process first depicted in Daniel 2:45 where a “stone was cut out of the mountain without [the] hands” of man, but by God Himself. Nebuchadnezzar was a diamond in the rough who accepted God’s severe handling that was necessary in order to reshape his character and make him fit for His everlasting kingdom in heaven. While Nebuchadnezzar was deeply concerned for the perpetuity of his earthly kingdom, God reveled to him the futility of such hope, and gave him something far better: eternal life in His kingdom, represented by the “mountain” that will fill “the whole earth” that will outlast all preceding earthly kingdoms.
Therefore, king Nebuchadnezzar becomes an example of how God is working with each person, seeking to wean from the world those who also have an “innate sense of justice and right”, for that “sense” is not limited only to king Nebuchadnezzar. He is a brilliant example of “the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people, [there] it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of the living God” (Hosea 1:10). “. . . for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1Samuel 16:7).
Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth,
This Chapter, which began with an incredibly unusual dream that led to a profound tragedy, concludes with a soaring act of redemption by God. Not only did God humble the mighty king of “Babylon the great“, so too, He restored him to his throne after a period of intense humiliation. Nebuchadnezzar, in this concluding verse, praises, exalts, and honors the “King of heaven“. Those who fear the Lord, as Nebuchadnezzar does in the wake of his correction, are instructed in wisdom. And once again, we see that “before honour [is] humility“. (Proverbs 15:33) How glorious to see that even the mighty king of Babylon was able to accept God’s correction and to embrace his discipline. How much more so the sons of the Kingdom?
And his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
How many of us today can testify to the fact that God is able to change “those that walk in pride he is able to abase?” Just as pride appeared before Nebuchadnezzar’s downfall, so too, it precedes our own. How difficult it is to grasp that “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit” (Proverbs 29:23). Let us remember and learn from the great folly of King Nebuchadnezzar. His example stands forever enshrined in scripture for our learning and edification. So too, it serves as a constant reminder that God is always in control and can easily bring to naught all of man’s greatest plans that exist outside His will!
Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven – Compare Daniel 2:47, and Daniel 4:1-3. He felt himself called on, in this public manner, to acknowledge the true God.
All whose works are truth – See Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 33:4; Revelation 15:3. The meaning is, that all that he does is done in accordance with the true nature of things, or with justice and propriety.
And those that walk in pride he is able to abase – What had occurred to Nebuchadnezzar might occur to others, and as God had shown that he could reduce the most exalted sovereign of the earth to the lowest condition in which a human being can be, he inferred that he could do the same to all, and that there was no one so exalted in rank, so vigorous in health, and so mighty in intellect, that he could not effectually humble and subdue him.
Summary of Chapter 4: This Chapter is a continuation of what might be considered part of the narrative portion of the Book of Daniel. The greater portion of this narration was probably authored by king Nebuchadnezzar himself. Central to the dream the king related were the heavenly visitants called the “watcher” and “watchers“. They had determined to subject the king to an extremely humiliating experience in order to save his soul. With the king himself represented as a “tree” that was cut down to stump level, he was to remain in that condition for seven literal years. The contrast between that of a true prophet and false is brought out in this Chapter. While the king’s counsellors may have understood the negative aspects of the dream they could not explain it because of fear. Daniel on the other hand, laid it all out and encouraged the king to reform and thus prevent the dream from being fulfilled, or at least postpone the inevitable.
Additional notes on Chapter 4
Under the direction of Robert Koldewey, who worked for the German Orient Society, important excavations were carried out at Babylon between the years 1899 and 1917. These have uncovered some of the most important sections of the large ruined site of ancient Babylon, although wide areas were not touched in these excavations. Babylon had been an important city of Mesopotamia from the dawn of history (Genesis 11 Hammurabi had made it the capital of his dynasty. As the seat of the famous god Marduk, it remained a religious center even during periods when it did not enjoy political supremacy, as, for example, during the time when Assyria was the leading world power. When Nabopolassar regained for Babylonia its independence, the city once more became the metropolis of the world. But it was especially under Nebuchadnezzar, the great builder of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, that Babylon became “the glory of kingdoms” and “the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency” Isaiah 13:19).
It was Nebuchadnezzar’s city that Koldewey uncovered during the 18 years of the German excavations; practically no remains of the earlier stages of the city were found. For this a double reason has been assigned: (1) The change of the river bed of the Euphrates raised the water table, so that the levels of the earlier cities now lie below the water level, and (2) the destruction of Babylon by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 689 BC was so thorough that little of the old city was left to be discovered and by later generations. Hence, all visible ruins today date from the Neo-Babylonian empire of later times. Even these show unusual desolation and confusion, for two reasons: (1) Large portions of the city were destroyed by King Xerxes of Persia after two short-lived revolts against his rule. (2) The ruins of Babylon were used by Seleucus to build Seleucia about 300 BC. Most of the buildings in the neighboring villages and in the city of Hilla, as well as the great river dam at Hindiya, were built of bricks from Babylon.
The Size of Ancient Babylon.—Before the spade of the excavator revealed the true size of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon and the Babylon of earlier times, scholars relied on the description of Herodotus. This historian claims to have visited to Mesopotamia in the middle of the 5th century BC, and therefore his statements have frequently been considered those of an eyewitness. He states that the ground plan of Babylon had the shape of a large square, approximately 14 miles (22.4 km.) on a side. These measurements would give to the city walls a total length of 55 miles (88 km.) and to the city itself an area of almost 189 square miles (490 sq. km.). He also claims that its walls were about 85 ft. (26 m.) thick and 340 ft. (104 m.) high.
Before modern excavations revealed the size of ancient Babylon, attempts were made to bring Herodotus’ statement into harmony with its visible ruins.
Excavations reveal that before Nebuchadnezzar’s time the city was almost square, with walls about one mile long on each side. The palaces and administration buildings lay in the northwestern section of the city, and south of them stood the main temple complex called Esagila, dedicated to Babylon’s main god, Marduk. The river Euphrates flowed along Babylon’s western wall.
The walls, which for the greater part can still be clearly seen as long, high mounds, measure about 13 miles. This measurement is that of the total length of the walls of both the inner and outer cities. The circumference of Nebuchadnezzar’s city, including the river front from the Summer Palace to the old palace area, was about 10 miles. Modern excavations show that Herodotus’ description needs modification on the dimensions of the walls. The fortifications surrounding the Inner City consisted of double walls—the inner 21½ and the outer 12¼ ft. thick (6.5 and 3.7 m., respectively), 23½ ft. (7.2 m.) apart, with a moat outside it. The outer wall was also double, with a rubble fill between and a road on top, according to Herodotus. The widths were: inner, 23½ ft.; space for fill, 36¾ ft.; outer, 25½ ft.; plus a sort of buttress wall at its base, 10¾ ft. (respectively 7.1, 11.2, 7.8, and 3.3 m.). This outer fortification’s total width was thus 96½ ft., or 29.39 m. Of its many towers, 15 have been excavated.
The excavations tell nothing of the height of the walls, since only stumps remain, nowhere higher than 39½ ft. (12 m.) at the Ishtar Gate. It seems inconceivable that even a double wall with a base width of 95 ft., or 29 m., would have been 340 ft. (103.7 m.) high. No ancient or modern city wall of this sort is known. Hence Herodotus’ statement in regard to the height of Babylon’s city wall must also be discarded.
Euphrates River Valley
The Euphrates is shown in its present bed, having changed its course near Babylon and Borsippa. Lines extending from the river are modern irrigation canals, doubtless similar to ancient canals.
Although ancient Babylon did not have the fantastic size attributed to it by Herodotus, the city was nevertheless of formidable size at a time when cities were very small according to modern standards. Its circumference of about 11 miles (17.6 km.) was comparable with the 7½ miles (12.5 km.) circumference of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria’s empire; with the walls of imperial Rome, 6 miles (9.6 km.) in circumference; and with the 4 miles (6.5 km.) of the walls of Athens at the time of that city’s height in the 5th century BC. This comparison with other famous cities of antiquity shows that Babylon was, with the possible exception of Egyptian Thebes, then in ruins, the largest and greatest of all ancient capitals, though it was much smaller than classical writers later pictured it. It is understandable why Nebuchadnezzar felt he had a right to boast of having built “this great Babylon … by the might of my power” (Daniel 4:30).
A City of Temples and Palaces.—Because Babylon contained the sanctuary of the god Marduk, considered to be the lord of heaven and earth, the chief of all the gods, the ancient Babylonians considered their city the “navel” of the world. Hence, Babylon was a religious center without rival on earth. A cuneiform tablet of Nebuchadnezzar’s time lists 53 temples dedicated to important gods, 955 small sanctuaries, and 384 street altars—all of them within the city confines. In comparison, Asshur, one of the chief cities of Assyria, with its 34 temples and chapels, made a comparatively poor impression. One can well understand why the Babylonians were proud of their city, saying, “Babylon is the origin and center of all lands”.
The center of Babylon’s glory was the famous temple tower Etemenanki, “the foundation stone of heaven and earth”, 299 ft. (91 m.) square at the base and probably 300 ft. (91.4 m.) high. This edifice was surpassed in height in ancient times only by the two great pyramids at Giza in Egypt. The tower may have been built at the site where the Tower of Babel once stood. The brick structure consisted of seven stages, of which the smallest and uppermost was a shrine dedicated to Marduk, the chief god of Babylon. See further on Genesis 11:9.
A great temple complex, called Esagila, literally, “He who raises the head”, surrounded the tower Etemenanki. Its courts and buildings were the scenes of many religious ceremonies performed in honor of Marduk. Great and colorful processions terminated at this place. With the exception of the great Amen temple at Karnak, Esagila was the largest and most famous of all temples of the ancient Orient. At the time Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne it had already enjoyed a long and glorious history, and the new king entirely rebuilt and beautified extensive sections of the temple complex, including the tower Etemenanki.
In both number and size the palaces of Babylon revealed extraordinary luxury.
During his long reign of 43 years Nebuchadnezzar built three large castles or palaces. One of them lay within the Inner City, the others outside it. One was what is known as the Summer Palace, in the northernmost part of the new eastern quarter. The mound that now covers its remains is the highest of those comprising the ruins of old Babylon, and is the only place that still bears the ancient name Babil. However, the thorough destruction of this palace in ancient times and the subsequent looting of the bricks of the structure have not left much for the archeologist to discover. Thus we know little regarding this palace.
Another large palace, which excavators now call the Central Palace, lay immediately outside the northern wall of the Inner City. This, too, was built by Nebuchadnezzar. Modern archeologists found this large building also in a hopelessly desolate condition, with the exception of one part of the palace, the Museum of Antiquities. Here valuable objects of the glorious past of Babylonian’s history, such as old statues, inscriptions, and trophies of war, had been collected and exhibited “for men to behold”, as Nebuchadnezzar expressed it in one of his inscriptions.
The Southern Palace lay in the northwestern corner of the Inner City and contained, among other structures, the famous hanging gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. A large vaulted building was surmounted with a roof garden irrigated by a system of pipes through which water was pumped up. According to Diodorus,
Nebuchadnezzar built this marvellous edifice for his Median wife in order to give to her, in the midst of level and treeless Babylonia, a substitute for the wooded hills of her native land, which she missed. In the vaults underneath the roof gardens provisions of grain, oil, fruit, and spices were stored for the needs of the court and court dependents. Excavators found administrative documents in these rooms, some of which mention King Jehoiachin of Judah as the recipient of royal rations.
Connections to the New Testament
• The great tree with animals living in and under it is used by Jesus in a parable to describe the kingdom of God which surpasses Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom by far (Matthew 13:32).
• The fall of Nebuchadnezzar resulting from his pride (Daniel 4:30, 31) points to the fall of symbolic, end-time Babylon (Revelation 14:8; also Chapters 17 and 18). The term “Babylon the great” is found in both Books.
• Compare Daniel 4:34 with Revelation 4:9. We should honor God “who lives forever“.
Application
• God is the true and highest Lord. He is the Lord over politics. He is also Lord over dictators who plague humanity. He carries out His plans behind the scenes. Soon He will establish His eternal kingdom from which everything negative will be banned.
• As God revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar, so He reveals Himself to us. He does this through answered prayers, experiences, and fellow humans—but especially through His Word, the Holy Scriptures. In some sense we are better off today than people were in the past: we have the full Word of God available to us.
• Just as God drew Nebuchadnezzar to Himself, God does not give up on us in His persevering love. Even when we go through bitter situations and experiences, God’s goal for us is our salvation.
• As Nebuchadnezzar made a decision for God, we too need to decide if God is our Lord. experience the joy of belonging to God, our Savior and Lord.
• We must share our experience with others as Nebuchadnezzar did. Everyone should have the chance to experience the joy of belonging to God, our Savior and Lord.
Conclusion 
In Daniel Chapter 4, there are great universal lessons that God wished to teach the king then, and us now. Mankind doesn’t change and while the extent of the highs and lows in this Chapter may not be your experience, the process and principles taught hold true none the less. Martyn Lloyd Jones once said that all of mankind’s history could be expressed thus:
• ‘Man formed, man deformed, man informed, man transformed.’
That certainly holds true for this Chapter and the life of king Nebuchadnezzar. hopefully you have got to the last stage of the process as well!
Appendix – the prophetic element
We have looked at this Chapter from a personal point of view exploring some of the lessons that we can learn from Nebuchadnezzar. But it is worth adding a note about the prophetic significance. Jesus spoke about the ‘times of the Gentiles‘ (Luke 21:24). This is the time when Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentile nations. Interestingly, it begins with the time of Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian kingdom. It ends at the return of Jesus when he sets up His kingdom. It is worth noting the parallels in this judgement and that which is still to come.
And Nebuchadnezzar’s great humiliation in becoming a beast for seven times (seven years), points us to the end of this Gentile age once more. Apostasy from God will be the great characteristic of that end. There will be no more looking up to God, but the attitude of the beast will be the attitude of the nations. We see much of this already. They mind earthly things and become the ‘earth dwellers’ so frequently mentioned in the Book of Revelation. When the Holy Spirit is removed, madness and bestiality will seize upon the Gentiles, then proud and apostate Christendom will believe the lie and follow the beast with its lying wonders.
The stump of the great tree which remains in the field suggests the fact that the judgments which fall upon the nations in the time of the end will not completely destroy all nations. Many of them will be swept away. For those who wilfully rejected the gospel and turned away from the truth, there is no hope. But there are others which will be left and when these judgments are in the earth, some will learn of righteousness.
The millennium is also seen in this Chapter in the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar and in the praise He gives to the Most High. In the previous Chapter the three friends of Daniel speak of ‘our God‘, but in this Chapter we hear of ‘the Most High‘. It is the millennial name of God. We see then in the fourth Chapter the pride and self exaltation of the Gentiles, and how the Gentiles will be humiliated and judged by the Most High.
Spirit of Prophecy – Daniel 4
NEBUCHADNEZZAR did not consider that God was his source of strength and ability, and he was WARNED of GOD not to pursue a course of SELF-EXALTATION lest God should bring JUDGMENTS upon him. In a DREAM the Lord laid out in clear lines the future history of the vainglorious king. NEBUCHADNEZZAR beheld a TREE that reached unto heaven, and as he looked, he saw a watcher and a holy one who came down from heaven and said, “HEW down the TREE, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit…. 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.” {Lt71-1894}
The prophet Daniel interpreted the DREAM to the king, and he added the solemn admonition, “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” This WARNING from GOD was passed by as a commonplace occurrence. For TWELVE MONTHS the king was tested and proved. During this time his actions were weighed in the balances of the sanctuary in heaven. {Lt71-1894}
One morning as he walked in his palace, “the king spake, and said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” While the king was swelling with self-importance, even “while the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken: the kingdom is departed from thee.” See Daniel 4:32-37. {Lt71-1894}
As king NEBUCHADNEZZAR walked in his palace, he said within himself, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” {Ms29-1895}
The God of heaven read the heart of the king and heard its WHISPERINGS of SELF GRATULATION. “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD: they shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The SAME HOUR was the thing fulfilled upon king NEBUCHADNEZZAR.” {Ms29-1895}
For TWELVE MONTHS the king was placed on trial, but at the end of that time he manifested the spirit that had led him to set up the golden image. At the end of TWELVE MONTHS he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. “The king spake and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words of SELF-GLORIFICATION were in the mouth of the king, “There fell a voice from heaven saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from thee. And thou shalt be driven from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD; thou shalt be made to eat GRASS as OXEN, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee; until thou knowest that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will.” {Ms15-1896}
This message from God was fulfilled. The king of Babylon, because he neglected to heed the testimonies of WARNING that had been given him, suffered the most humiliating punishments. WARNINGS had been given him of God; Daniel had appealed to him to change his course of action, to break off his sins by righteousness, in order that this terrible sentence might not be fulfilled. But SELF-INDULGENCE, INORDINATE AMBITION, was not eradicated from his heart, and after a time revealed itself in words of VANITY. {Ms15-1896}
This was the DREAM that came to NEBUCHADNEZZAR, and he appealed to Daniel to declare the interpretation. Daniel was much troubled as he saw the significance of the DREAM was, but he told the king what would befall him, saying, “Thou shalt be driven from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD, and thou shalt be made to eat GRASS like OXEN, and shalt be wet with the dew of heaven, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” Then Daniel exhorted the king, as we have before presented, to break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. But the light from heaven was not accepted, and did not exert a saving influence upon his character. Those who receive light will either change their course of action, or else the Word of the Lord will become less and less palatable, and will finally be set aside. The king did not heed the WORDS of WARNING, and he greatly perverted his ways. {Ms15-1896}
The statement, “Thou art this HEAD of GOLD,” flattered his VANITY, and his rule became oppressive. He EXALTED HIMSELF, and determined that his kingdom should be like an image that was all gold. He CHERISHED JEALOUSY of other kingdoms, and after the light God gave him had been made clear to his mind, he still perverted his course of action, and EXALTED HIMSELF before God. His rule that had been to a great extent just and merciful, because God had imparted wisdom, now manifested the VANITY and oppression of the human heart. The reason God had given him was misapplied and misused in GLORIFYING HIMSELF, and was finally dethroned. He followed the INSTINCTS of the BEASTS; he ate the food they ate, and ACTED as they did. For SEVEN YEARS the king was an astonishment to all his subjects. He was an example of what it is to be humbled of God, because he did not honor God, but made himself as God. {Ms15-1896}
The Lord gave him the truth, but he did not practice it. The universe of heaven said to the king of Babylon, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” The ways of men are opposed to the ways of God. The Lord Jesus gave lessons to His disciples to show to us all that it is through His grace alone that we shall be able to discern spiritual truths. “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” {Ms15-1896}
To us who believe have been committed the oracles of God. The BOOKS of DANIEL and REVELATION are full of matter which concerns every one of us. WE SHOULD STUDY THESE BOOKS, and let the Lord God of Israel communicate truth to us, so that we may be able to communicate the truth to others who live in these last days. The Lord would have His people learn of Jesus. God forbid that those for whom He has wrought shall become high-minded and be left to their own way as was the king of Babylon. {Ms15-1896}
Hundreds of years before a people has come upon the stage of action, the prophetic pen, under the dictation of the Holy Spirit, has traced its history. The prophet Daniel described the kingdoms that would rise and fall. Interpreting to the king of Babylon the DREAM of the GREAT IMAGE, he declared to NEBUCHADNEZZAR that his kingdom should be superseded. His greatness and power in God’s world would have its day, and a second kingdom should arise which also should have its period of test and trial as to whether the people would EXALT THE ONE RULER, THE ONLY TRUE GOD. Not doing this, their glory would fade away, and a third kingdom would occupy their place. Proved by obedience or disobedience, this also would pass away; and a fourth strong as iron, was to subdue the nations of the world. This Word, opened by the infinite God to finite man, recorded on the prophetic page, and traced on the pages of history, declares that God is the ruling power. He changeth the times and the seasons, He removeth kings and setteth up kings, to fulfil His own purpose. {Ms36-1896}
Under King NEBUCHADNEZZAR, Babylon was the richest and most powerful kingdom on the earth. Its riches and splendor have been faintly portrayed by Inspiration. But when God’s time had come, that kingdom of PRIDE and POWER, ruled by men of the highest intellect, was broken, shattered, helpless. Christ has declared, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Illustrious statesmen did not regard themselves as dependent upon God. They thought that they themselves had created all their grandeur and exaltation. But when God speaks, they are as the GRASS that groweth up, and the flower of the GRASS that fadeth away. The Word and will of God alone liveth and endureth forever. {Ms36-1896}
Christ, the Majesty of heaven, was rich in treasures. The gold and silver were all His. The world was His, for He made it. But for our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. That He might reach fallen humanity, that He might associate with men, reaching their hearts through the common avenue of sympathy, He clothed His divinity with humanity. He who had lived amid the glories of heaven was found in fashion as a man. He humbled Himself, working for the recovery of the human race by adapting Himself to the situation. {Lt53-1898}
Then how foolish it is for man, who has nothing he can call his own, to EXALT HIMSELF and WALK HAUGHTILY. God has lent him what he has, that he may impart to those who are in need. How inappropriate and entirely out of place to act as did NEBUCHADNEZZAR, who made the PROUD BOAST, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my POWER, and for the honor of my majesty?” Because of his PROUD BOASTING, the king of Babylon was humbled by the God who gave him all he had. His REASON was taken from him, and for SEVEN YEARS he lived among the wild BEASTS of the FIELD. {Lt53-1898}
God has not surrounded any human being with blessings to curse them with the sure result of idleness, and deprive them of the blessings which come from a wise improvement of the talents. The children of the wealthy should not be deprived of the great blessing of having something to do. It is their privilege to enjoy God’s blessing by devoting their mind and strength to His glory. To every man, woman, and child, God has given a work. He gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden to tend; and this work was to them a pleasure. Work would never have been anything but pleasure and happiness had not Adam transgressed God’s commands. {Lt53-1898}
Daniel did not stand before king NEBUCHADNEZZAR to GLORIFY HUMAN POWER, to dishonor God by failing to acknowledge His goodness. Had he not acknowledged God as the source of his wisdom, he would have been an unfaithful steward. Those who follow the example set by Daniel will connect with the Lord. They will consult Him as a son consults a wise father. Not all human fathers possess wisdom; but God may always be trusted and depended on. With perfect assurance we may commit the keeping of our souls to Him as unto a faithful Creator. {Ms21-1899}
Did Daniel’s faithful recognition of God before kings, princes, and statesmen detract from his influence? No. Read his firm, bold testimony, and then follow his example. Let the clear-cut testimony, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cut to the right and to the left. Make appeals that will bring foolish, wandering minds back to God. {Ms21-1899}
Read how plainly Daniel WARNED NEBUCHADNEZZAR. NEBUCHADNEZZAR dreamed a dream, and he related it to Daniel, who interpreted it for him. “The TREE that thou sawest,” he said, “which grew, and waxed strong, whose height reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth, whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all, under which the BEASTS of the FIELD dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation, it is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong; for thy greatness is grown and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion unto the ends of the earth.” {Lt34-1900}
“And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, HEW the TREE down, and destroy it; yet leave the STUMP of the ROOTS thereof 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, till SEVEN TIMES pass over him; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from among men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEAST of the FIELD, and they shall make thee eat GRASS as OXEN, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. {Lt34-1900}
“And whereas they commanded to leave the STUMP of the TREE ROOTS; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shall have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” {Lt34-1900}
Thus plainly was the truth spoken to the SELF-EXALTED king. And in the providence of God we shall in the future have opportunity to warn those who stand in the high places of the earth. {Lt34-1900}
The JUDGMENTS declared came upon the king. “At the end of TWELVE MONTHS he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake and said, Is not this great Babylon that I have built, for the house of my kingdom by the might of my POWER, and for the honor of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from among men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD; they shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” {Lt34-1900}
The SAME HOUR was the thing fulfilled upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR and he was driven from men, and did eat GRASS as OXEN, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like bird’s claws.” {Lt34-1900}
“At the end of the days I NEBUCHADNEZZAR lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine UNDERSTANDING returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my REASON returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me, and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I NEBUCHADNEZZAR praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways JUDGMENT; and those that walk in PRIDE he is able to abase.” {Lt34-1900}
What a wonderful history this is! God can so humble kings and nobles when it is for His glory, that they will acknowledge that there is a power above themselves. He can cause them to use the tongue in praising Him. {Lt34-1900}
God will visit His JUDGMENTS upon those men in responsible positions who feel that they are above all divine law. But there are those in official life who feel their need of something they have not. To them God will make known that He is the One who controls all affairs of this life. If these men will repent and be converted, God will use them in His cause. Tell them that the Lord can lift up and cast down. Let those who realize the value of the human soul give with earnestness the invitation to the gospel feast. Ask men and women if they are prepared for the future immortal life. {Lt34-1900}
The prophet Daniel, acting in behalf of the Most High, instructed the man who sent for him to interpret his dreams. He interpreted the vision in regard to the GREAT TREE which he had seen hewn down. Daniel 4:23. He made the interpretation, bearing direct reference to the ruling of the monarch himself. The Lord’s messenger must not in any case depart from the plain “Thus saith the Lord.” Before the Lord strikes, He warns and impresses their understanding. Daniel, the minister of God, was brought before NEBUCHADNEZZAR, and was informed by the king of the dream. {Ms233-1902}
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, explained to the king the intent and meaning of the dream. “My lord, the DREAM be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The TREE that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: under which the BEASTS of the FIELD dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, HEW the TREE down, and destroy it; yet leave the STUMP of the ROOTS thereof 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 of the FIELD, till SEVEN TIMES pass over him. {Ms233-1902}
“This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD, and they shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the STUMP of the TREE ROOTS; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” Daniel 4:19-27. {Ms233-1902}
After he had heard the interpretation and undergone the sentence of degradation, then king NEBUCHADNEZZAR concludes his history: “All this came upon the king NEBUCHADNEZZAR. At the end of TWELVE MONTHS he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my POWER, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD: they shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The SAME HOUR was the thing fulfilled upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR: and he was driven from men.” (See verses 33-37.) {Ms233-1902}
King NEBUCHADNEZZAR is changed—he is a changed man. The closing epistle addressed by the king to his subjects reveals the spirit that pleases God. This punishment was not in vain. His words evidence that a true conversion has taken place. There is not that pomp, that lifting up the soul unto VANITY, but a transformation of his character, a true and actual conversion to God. {Ms233-1902}
The Lord had wrought upon His subject. The PRIDE and SELF-SUFFICIENCY that God would not tolerate provoked punishment. He did not excuse himself in his course of action as though a king, a great king, need not repent and humble his heart before God. There was a sense now, as he had never had before, that position does not form character after the correct similitude, unless the subject upon whom God works is willing that God should work the human clay to make a vessel unto honor. Some who are reproved will not humble themselves to confess this, as did the king of Babylon, because the people would then suppose that they were not perfect men. {Ms233-1902}
I am instructed to call the attention of our people to the SECOND DREAM given to NEBUCHADNEZZAR and to the experience that came to him as the result of his failure to heed the WARNING. NEBUCHADNEZZAR was troubled by the dream; and unable to obtain from his wise men an interpretation of it, he called in Daniel and told him the dream. {Lt114-1903}
“I saw,” he said, “and, behold, a TREE in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The TREE grew and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the width thereof unto the end of all the earth; 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 fowl of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven, and 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; 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; and 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… This DREAM I 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.” {Lt114-1903}
The DREAM and its meaning filled Daniel with astonishment, and “his thoughts troubled him.” But he faithfully told the king that the fate of the TREE was emblematic of his own downfall; that he would lose his REASON and, forsaking the abodes of men, would find a home with the BEASTS of the FIELD; and that he would remain in this condition for SEVEN YEARS. He urged the PROUD monarch to repent and turn to God and by good works avert the threatened calamity. “Wherefore, O king,” he said, “let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” {Lt114-1903}
Had the king heeded this counsel, the threatened evil might have been turned aside. But he went on in PROUD SUPERIORITY. For a time he was impressed by the WARNING given him. But his heart was not changed, and the heart that is not wholly transformed by the grace of God soon loses the impression made by the Holy Spirit. NEBUCHADNEZZAR felt that he was rooted in the hearts of his subjects, and his prosperity tempted him to do unjust things. His rule, which in the past had to a great extent been just and merciful, now became harsh and oppressive. The reason that God had given him was used for SELF-GLORIFICATION. {Lt114-1903}
About A YEAR after the king received the WARNING, he was walking in his palace, thinking of his power as the ruler of earth’s greatest kingdom. And the king spake, and said, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of my kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” {Lt114-1903}
“The SAME HOUR was the thing fulfilled upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR.” In a moment his REASON was taken away, and he became as a beast. “And he was driven from men, and did eat GRASS as OXEN, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” For SEVEN YEARS he was thus degraded. For SEVEN YEARS he was an astonishment to his subjects. At the end of this time his reason was restored to him, and looking up in humility to the God of heaven, he recognized the divine hand in his chastisement. The transformation had come. The mighty monarch had become the humble child of God, obedient to His will. The despot had been changed into the wise, compassionate ruler. {Lt114-1903}
In a public proclamation NEBUCHADNEZZAR acknowledged his guilt and the great mercy of God in his restoration. The record says: {Lt114-1903}
The lesson that the Lord would have all humanity learn from the experience of the king of Babylon is that all who walk in PRIDE He is able to abase. By stern discipline NEBUCHADNEZZAR had to learn the lesson that God, not man, is Ruler, that His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. So men today must learn that God is supreme. When men gain success in the work of the Lord, it is because God has given them this success, not for their own glory, but for God’s glory. He who seeks to steal a ray of light from the glory of the Lord will find that he will be punished for his presumption. {Lt114-1903}
NEBUCHADNEZZAR because of his PRIDE was humiliated, his REASON was taken away, and for SEVEN YEARS he was as one of the BEASTS of the FIELD. At the end of that time he praised God. “And at the end of the days I NEBUCHADNEZZAR lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine UNDERSTANDING returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” {Ms115-1903}
I read the fourth chapter of Daniel with intense interest. It speaks of the SECOND WARNING given to the king. In interpreting the DREAM that NEBUCHADNEZZAR had dreamed, Daniel said: {Lt126-1910}
“It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong; for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion unto the ends of the earth. And whereas the king saw a Watcher and an Holy One coming down from heaven, and saying, HEW down the TREE, and destroy it; yet leave the STUMP of the ROOTS thereof 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 of the FIELD, till SEVEN TIMES pass over him. {Lt126-1910}
NEBUCHADNEZZAR was given a PROBATION of TWELVE MONTHS, but he did not heed the WARNING. As he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon, he spoke in PRIDE, saying: {Lt126-1910}
“Is not this great Babylon, that I have built, for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken: Thy kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD; they shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will. {Lt126-1910}
“The SAME HOUR was the thing fulfilled upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR; and he was driven from men, and did eat GRASS as OXEN, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” {Lt126-1910}
At the end of the days his REASON returned unto him, and “he blessed the Most High.” The record says: {Lt126-1910}
“I, NEBUCHADNEZZAR, praise and honor Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth; and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? At the same time my REASON returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.” {Lt126-1910}
“Now I, NEBUCHADNEZZAR, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways JUDGMENT; and those that walk in PRIDE He is able to abase.” {Lt126-1910}
But let us consider, What reason has man to be puffed up? What reason has he to be PROUD of his religion? He has nothing but that which he has received from God the Redeemer. Learning of the very highest order cannot purchase heaven for any of us. The man possessing large estates and lofty mansions, who walks the earth with all the independence of NEBUCHADNEZZAR as he walked in the palace of the king of Babylon, can claim the right to heaven only through humble obedience to all of God’s commandments. And the king’s thoughts found utterance in words, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my POWER, and for the honor of my majesty?” The Lord heard the PROUD monarch, and while the words were “in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.” Neither riches nor honor can purchase one of the rich graces of the Spirit of God, or secure for man by all his wisdom a mansion in the heavens. The PROUD monarch of Babylon was made to feel that there was a power behind and above all his BOASTED wisdom. God simply removed from the PROUD BOASTER his REASON, which was the gift of God, and he became degraded to the society of the BEASTS for SEVEN YEARS. {RH, July 19, 1887 par. 15}
When NEBUCHADNEZZAR GLORIFIED HIMSELF, and did not give praise to God, he was made an example before the world of how God regards this spirit of SELF-EXALTATION. As he walked in the palace of his kingdom, he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my POWER, and for the honor of my majesty?” But there was an unseen watcher that marked his spirit and recorded his words, and a voice fell from heaven, saying, “O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD. They shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” {RH, June 18, 1889 par. 16}
The LAST DREAM which God gave to NEBUCHADNEZZAR, and the experience of the king in connection with it, contain lessons of vital importance to all those who are connected with the work of God. The king was troubled with his dream; for it was evidently a prediction of adversity, and none of his wise men would attempt to interpret it. The faithful Daniel stood before the king, not to flatter, not to misinterpret in order to secure favor. A solemn duty rested upon him to tell the king of Babylon the truth. He said: “My lord, the DREAM be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The TREE that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the BEASTS of the FIELD dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: it is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, HEW the TREE down, and destroy it; yet leave the STUMP of the ROOTS thereof 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 of the FIELD, till SEVEN TIMES pass over him; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king: that they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD, and they shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the STUMP of the TREE ROOTS; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 5}
But NEBUCHADNEZZAR did not heed the heaven-sent message. ONE YEAR after he had been thus WARNED, as he walked in his palace, he said within himself, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” The God of heaven read the heart of the king, and heard its WHISPERINGS of SELF-CONGRATULATION. “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O King NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD: they shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The SAME HOUR was the thing fulfilled upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 6}
All our POWERS are the gift of God. He has endowed us with REASON, and he intends that we shall use this power that we may understand our situation and glorify him. If we use our abilities simply for the glorification of self, we are not fulfilling the will of God. God gave NEBUCHADNEZZAR his REASON, but the king used his ability to EXALT HIMSELF. He walked about in the great city, and said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my POWER, and for the honor of my majesty?” He forgot the honor of God, and God removed his reason, and he was sent out to dwell with the BEASTS of the FIELD, to eat GRASS as an OX. The relation of this experience of NEBUCHADNEZZAR is to show us what a man will become if God removes his precious endowment of reason. God can take away the powers of the mind, and leave nothing in the breast of a man but the instinct of a BEAST of the FIELD. {ST, September 9, 1889 par. 5}
There is a witness present with us, even as there was at the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar. “The king made a feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father NEBUCHADNEZZAR had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king and his princes, his wives and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king and his princes, his wives and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. In the SAME HOUR came forth fingers of a man’s hand and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.” {YI, November 9, 1893 par. 1}
There was a witness present on this occasion, just as there is a witness present at all such times of feasting and frivolity. The witness was not an invited guest, yet when the hilarity was at its height, when God’s name and honor were profaned, the bloodless hand wrote the sentence of JUDGMENT on the wall. “Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.” {YI, November 9, 1893 par. 2}
In all the gatherings of young and old, there is present an uninvited guest, a witness from heaven, as there was a witness at the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar. Could those who dishonor God by their words and actions, behold the writing in the record, their countenances would change, as surely as did the countenance of the king when he saw the part of the bloodless hand that wrote on the wall of his palace. You may think that you are sinning in secret, or you may be entirely indifferent to the matter; but for all that, every dishonoring word spoken against God will bring its sure reward. That which you sow you will also reap. The Lord has said, “Them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” You may suppose that your reasonings are very clear and sharp. NEBUCHADNEZZAR thought the same. WARNINGS were given him in dreams, and no one of his wise men could interpret them. Daniel alone was found to interpret the dreams of the king, and to add words given him of God, to exhort the king to repentance and reformation. {YI, November 9, 1893 par. 3}
Daniel said to the king, “O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” But the king did not heed the message of Daniel. For TWELVE MONTHS he was tested and proved of God, to see if he would humble his PROUD heart, and the witness was with him when he came in and when he went out; and at the end of the TWELVE MONTHS he walked in his palace in the kingdom of Babylon. “The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the BEASTS of the FIELD: they shall make thee to eat GRASS as OXEN, and SEVEN TIMES shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” {YI, November 9, 1893 par. 4}
The king’s REASON was taken away, and the word of God was fulfilled to the very letter. For SEVEN YEARS his kingdom was ruled by others, while the might and mind and power of the king were humbled. He ate GRASS as an OX, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven. “And at the end of the days I NEBUCHADNEZZAR lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I NEBUCHADNEZZAR praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways JUDGMENT: and those that walk in PRIDE he is able to abase.” {YI, November 9, 1893 par. 5}
Before Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall of the king’s palace, he rehearsed the experience of NEBUCHADNEZZAR before Belshazzar. “Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let they gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O thou king, the most high God gave NEBUCHADNEZZAR thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor: and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in PRIDE, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: and he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the BEASTS, and his dwelling was with the WILD ASSES: they fed him with GRASS like OXEN, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruleth in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou and thy lords, thy wives and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them: and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of BRASS, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hah numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Tekel;’ Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” {YI, November 9, 1893 par. 6}
The Lord exalted his name even among the heathen, and kings honored God because of his wonderful works, which revealed him to be the ONLY TRUE GOD. {YI, November 9, 1893 par. 7}
The vision of the GREAT IMAGE, in which Babylon was represented as the HEAD of GOLD, was given NEBUCHADNEZZAR in order that he might have a clear understanding in regard to the end of all things earthly, and also in regard to the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom. Although in the interpretation he was declared to be “a king of kings,” this was because “the God of heaven” had given him “a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.” His kingdom was universal, extending “wheresoever the children of men dwell,” yet it was to be followed by three other universal kingdoms, after which “the God of heaven” would “set up a kingdom,” which should “never be destroyed.” {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 5}
In the providence of God, NEBUCHADNEZZAR was given ample opportunity to ascribe to the Lord the glory for the splendor of his reign. And for a time after the vision of the GREAT IMAGE, he acknowledged God as supreme. Falling back into idolatrous habits, he was again, by the miraculous deliverance of the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace, led to acknowledge that God’s “kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.” But once more the king perverted the WARNINGS God had given him, and turned aside from the path of humility to follow the imaginations of his naturally PROUD HEART. Thinking that his kingdom should be more extensive and powerful than any that would follow, he made great additions to the city of Babylon, and gave himself up to a life of PLEASURE and SELF-GLORIFICATION. Of this time he himself says: “I NEBUCHADNEZZAR was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace.” {YI, October 11, 1904 par. 6}
The public proclamation in which NEBUCHADNEZZAR acknowledged his guilt and the great mercy of God in his restoration, is the last act of his life as recorded in Sacred History. {YI, December 13, 1904 par. 6}
Look at the DREAM of NEBUCHADNEZZAR as interpreted by Daniel. In some particulars it was a beautiful DREAM. A lofty TREE was seen planted in the earth. Flocks and herds from the mountains and hills were represented as enjoying shelter beneath its branches, and the birds of the air built their nests amid its boughs. This is the representation of a prosperous king. Nations were dwelling beneath his sovereignty. Families were blessed with peace. His kingdom was firmly established in the hearts of his loyal subjects. The king too knew his prosperity, and he was lifted up because of it. Human nature in its corruptness was revealed; it prompted the king, notwithstanding the warnings God had given him, to do the very things the Lord had told him not to do. He looked upon his kingdom with pride, and exclaimed, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” The instant the words were uttered, the sentence was pronounced which felled the TREE and degraded the monarch whom the TREE symbolized. The reason which God had given him was taken away; his judgment which he thought so perfect, the wisdom which he prided himself as possessing were removed. The jewel of the mind, which elevates man above the beasts as the head of the body, he no longer retained. {Lt8-1886}
NEBUCHADNEZZAR did not consider that God was his source of strength and ability, and he was warned of God not to pursue a course of self-exaltation lest God should bring judgments upon him. In a DREAM the Lord laid out in clear lines the future history of the vainglorious king. NEBUCHADNEZZAR beheld a TREE that reached unto heaven, and as he looked, he saw a watcher and a holy one who came down from heaven and said, “Hew down the TREE, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit…. 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.” {Lt71-1894}
In the DREAM of NEBUCHADNEZZAR, the true object of government is beautifully represented by the great TREE “whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation.” Now, if God had called a man, or any set of men at Battle Creek to rule in any sense, that representation of the TREE shows the only kind of ruling acceptable to Him—a government that protects, restores, relieves, but never savors of oppression. The poor, especially, are to be kindly treated. “All ye are brethren.” Aid is to be given to the oppressed, and not one soul that bears the IMAGE of God is to be placed at the footstool of a human being. The greatest possible kindness and freedom are to be granted to the purchase of the blood of Christ. {Ms29-1895}
Make it your lifework to reform. Make no delay. Satan has his net all ready to close about you. Flee to Christ for refuge. I want you to be converted, to be transformed. That Watcher who gave the denunciation against the king of Babylon, is waiting to see if he will be compelled to say of you, “Hew down the TREE, cut off its branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit.” Daniel interpreted NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM, and then, as he stood before the monarch of Babylon, he gave him counsel, “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” The judgments foretold came upon King NEBUCHADNEZZAR. {Lt35-1896}
Read how plainly Daniel warned NEBUCHADNEZZAR. NEBUCHADNEZZAR DREAMED a DREAM, and he related it to Daniel, who interpreted it for him. “The TREE that thou sawest,” he said, “which grew, and waxed strong, whose height reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth, whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation, it is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong; for thy greatness is grown and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion unto the ends of the earth.” {Lt34-1900}
The prophet Daniel, acting in behalf of the Most High, instructed the man who sent for him to interpret his DREAMS. He interpreted the vision in regard to the great TREE which he had seen hewn down. Daniel 4:23. He made the interpretation, bearing direct reference to the ruling of the monarch himself. The Lord’s messenger must not in any case depart from the plain “Thus saith the Lord.” Before the Lord strikes, He warns and impresses their understanding. Daniel, the minister of God, was brought before NEBUCHADNEZZAR, and was informed by the king of the DREAM. {Ms233-1902}
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, explained to the king the intent and meaning of the DREAM. “My lord, the DREAM be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The TREE that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the TREE down, and destroy it; yet leave the STUMP of the ROOTS thereof 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him. {Ms233-1902}
“This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the STUMP of the TREE ROOTS; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.” Daniel 4:19-27. {Ms233-1902}
I am instructed to call the attention of our people to the second DREAM given to NEBUCHADNEZZAR and to the experience that came to him as the result of his failure to heed the warning. NEBUCHADNEZZAR was troubled by the DREAM; and unable to obtain from his wise men an interpretation of it, he called in Daniel and told him the DREAM. {Lt114-1903}
“I saw,” he said, “and, behold, a TREE in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The TREE grew and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the width thereof unto the end of all the earth; 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 fowl of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven, and 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; 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; and 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… This DREAM I 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.” {Lt114-1903}
NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S wonderful DREAM caused a marked change in his ideas and opinions, and for a little time he was influenced by the fear of God; but his heart was not yet cleansed from its pride, its worldly ambition, its desire for self-exaltation. After the first impression wore away, he thought only of his own greatness and studied how the DREAM might be turned to his own honor. {Ms110-1904}
The words, “Thou art this HEAD of GOLD,” made the deepest impression upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S mind. He determined to make an IMAGE that should excel the original. This IMAGE was not to deteriorate in value from the head to the feet, like the one he had been shown, but was to be composed throughout of the most precious metal. Thus the whole IMAGE would represent the greatness of Babylon, and he determined that by the splendor of this IMAGE the prophecy concerning the kingdoms which were to follow should be effaced from his mind and from the minds of others who had heard the DREAM and its interpretation. From the treasures obtained in war, NEBUCHADNEZZAR “made an IMAGE of GOLD, whose height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plan of Dura,” and issued a proclamation, calling upon all the officers of the kingdom to assemble at the dedication of this IMAGE and, at the sound of musical instruments, to bow down and WORSHIP it. Should any fail of doing this, they were immediately to be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. {Ms110-1904}
The appointed day came, and at the sound of entrancing music, the vast company “fell down, and WORSHIPED the GOLDEN IMAGE.” But the three Hebrew youth, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (we have no record of Daniel’s being present), did not dishonor the God of heaven by paying homage to this idol. Their action was reported to the king. Angered, he called them before him and by threats endeavored to induce them to unite with the multitude in WORSHIPING the IMAGE. Courteously, yet firmly, they declared their allegiance to the God of heaven and their faith in His power to deliver them in the hour of trial. {Ms110-1904}
The king’s wrath knew no bounds. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than was its wont. And without delay the Hebrew exiles were cast in. So furious were the flames that the men who cast the Hebrews in were burned to death. {Ms110-1904}
Suddenly the countenance of the king paled with terror. He looked intently upon the glowing flames and turning to his lords, in tones of alarm, inquired, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” The answer was, “True, O king.” His voice trembling with excitement, the monarch exclaimed, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!” {Ms110-1904}
The Hebrew captives had told NEBUCHADNEZZAR of Christ, the Redeemer that was to come; and from the description thus given, the king recognized the form of the fourth in the fiery furnace as the Son of God. {Ms110-1904}
Hastening to the furnace, NEBUCHADNEZZAR cried, “Ye servants of the most high God, come forth.” And they obeyed, before that vast multitude showing themselves unhurt, not even the smell of fire being on their garments. True to duty, they had been proof against the flames. Only their fetters had been burned. {Ms110-1904}
Tests will come to every one of us. We know not how many will be placed in peculiar positions, where we shall have opportunity of showing forth the glory of God. We are to keep in view the honor of our heavenly Father. Wherever we are, we are to let nothing earthly deter us from glorifying His name. Are we prepared for the tests that will come? {Ms110-1904}
When Daniel, in response to the king’s summons, stood in his presence, NEBUCHADNEZZAR greeted him with the words: “O Belshazzar, master of the eunuchs, because I know that the Spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the vision of my DREAM that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.” Then NEBUCHADNEZZAR related his DREAM, and appealed to Daniel to interpret the vision, saying, “O Belshazzar, 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.” {Ms169-1904}
The signification of the DREAM was plain to Daniel and it startled him. He “was astonished for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.” He had no desire to misinterpret the vision in order to flatter the king and secure royal favor, yet he was reluctant to reveal the dreadful import of the symbols presented. {Ms169-1904}
The king, seeing Daniel’s hesitation and distress, was led to express sympathy for his servant. “Belshazzar,” he entreated, “let not the DREAM, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee.” Belshazzar answered and said, “My lord, the DREAM be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.” But the prophet realized that upon him there rested the solemn duty of telling NEBUCHADNEZZAR the truth in plain, straightforward language. {Ms169-1904}
“The TREE that thou sawest,” Daniel declared, “which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation; it is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong; for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven and thy dominion to the end of the earth. {Ms169-1904}
“And whereas the king saw a Watcher and an Holy One coming down from heaven, and saying Hew the TREE down, and destroy it; yet leave the STUMP of the ROOTS thereof 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king; that they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will. {Ms169-1904}
“And whereas they commanded to leave the STUMP of the TREE ROOTS; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the Heavens do rule.” {Ms169-1904}
After thus faithfully telling the king that the fate of the TREE was emblematic of his own downfall, and that, losing his reason, he would forsake the abodes of men, and find a home with the beasts of the field, remaining in this condition for seven years, Daniel urged the proud monarch to repent and turn to God. “O king,” the prophet pleaded, “let my counsel be acceptable to thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thin iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” {Ms169-1904}
I read the fourth chapter of Daniel with intense interest. It speaks of the second warning given to the king. In interpreting the DREAM that NEBUCHADNEZZAR had DREAMED, Daniel said: {Lt126-1910}
“It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong; for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion unto the ends of the earth. And whereas the king saw a Watcher and an Holy One coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew down the TREE, and destroy it; yet leave the STUMP of the ROOTS thereof 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him. {Lt126-1910}
“This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king: That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the STUMP of the TREE ROOTS, thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” {Lt126-1910}
NEBUCHADNEZZAR was given a probation of twelve months, but he did not heed the warning. As he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon, he spoke in pride, saying: {Lt126-1910}
“Is not this great Babylon, that I have built, for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken: Thy kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will. {Lt126-1910}
“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR; and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” {Lt126-1910}
At the end of the days his reason returned unto him, and “he blessed the Most High.” The record says: {Lt126-1910}
“I, NEBUCHADNEZZAR, praise and honor Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth; and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.” {Lt126-1910}
“Now I, NEBUCHADNEZZAR, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment; and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” {Lt126-1910}
The last DREAM which God gave to NEBUCHADNEZZAR, and the experience of the king in connection with it, contain lessons of vital importance to all those who are connected with the work of God. The king was troubled with his DREAM; for it was evidently a prediction of adversity, and none of his wise men would attempt to interpret it. The faithful Daniel stood before the king, not to flatter, not to misinterpret in order to secure favor. A solemn duty rested upon him to tell the king of Babylon the truth. He said: “My lord, the DREAM be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The TREE that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: it is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the TREE down, and destroy it; yet leave the STUMP of the ROOTS thereof 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 of the field, till seven times pass over him; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my lord the king: that they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. And whereas they commanded to leave the STUMP of the TREE ROOTS; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 5}
But NEBUCHADNEZZAR did not heed the heaven-sent message. One year after he had been thus warned, as he walked in his palace, he said within himself, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” The God of heaven read the heart of the king, and heard its whisperings of self-congratulation. “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O King NEBUCHADNEZZAR, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon NEBUCHADNEZZAR. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 6}
Today there is a Watchman taking cognizance of the children of men, and in a special sense of those who are to represent God by receiving his sacred truth into the heart and revealing it to the world. That Watcher is guarding the interests of all. Every individual is before him. There is not a thought of the heart that is unnoted. Nothing can be hidden from him. His ear hears the secret whisperings, and every secret thing is to be brought into judgment. All need to learn that the heavenly Watcher is acquainted with the children of men. If men forget this, there is danger of a spirit of selfishness and self exaltation entering their work. These principles practised are not only detrimental to all within the sphere of their action, but will lead to a development of character so objectionable that its possessor cannot find a place among the redeemed. He that sitteth in the heavens requires that a different spirit shall control his workers. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 7}
Whatever the position we are called to fill, our only safety is in walking humbly with God. The man who glories in his supposed capabilities, in his position of power, in his wisdom, in his property, or in anything else than Christ, will be taken in the net of the enemy. He who fails to walk humbly before God will find a spirit rising up within him, prompting the desire to rule others connected with him, and causing him to oppress others who are human and erring like himself. He appropriates to himself jurisdiction and control over other men,–an honor which belongs alone to God. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 8}
Under the rebuke of God the proud heart of NEBUCHADNEZZAR was humbled. He acknowledged Jehovah as the living God. “At the end of the days,” the record reads. “I NEBUCHADNEZZAR lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:….he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?. . . I NEBUCHADNEZZAR praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those who walk in pride he is able to abase.” Thus the king of Babylon became a witness for God. He presented himself as a living epistle, giving his testimony, warm and eloquent, from a grateful heart that was partaking of the mercy and grace and righteousness and peace of the divine nature. {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 9}
O that all who have had great light shining round them in rich abundance might become humble and faithful agents for God, and, like the king of Babylon, raise their voices in recognition of God! Then they might be made, in truth, guardians of sacred trusts. “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” {RH, September 8, 1896 par. 10}
November 1, 1904 NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S Second Dream
Because NEBUCHADNEZZAR did not continue to walk in the light he had received from heaven, he lost the holy impressions that had been made upon his mind. But God, in his mercy, gave the king another DREAM, to save him, if possible, from appropriating to himself the glory that belonged to the Supreme Ruler. {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 1}
The DREAM given at this time to the king of Babylon was a very striking one. In a vision of the night he saw a great TREE growing in the midst of the earth, towering to the heavens, and its branches stretching to the ends of the earth. “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.” {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 2}
As the king gazed upon that lofty TREE, he beheld “a Watcher,” even “an Holy One,”–a divine Messenger, similar in appearance to the One who walked with the Hebrews in the fiery furnace. This heavenly Being approached the TREE, and in a loud voice cried:– {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 3}
“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: 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: 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. 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.” {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 4}
The king was greatly troubled by this DREAM. It was evidently a prediction of adversity. He repeated it to the magicians, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers; but although the DREAM was very explicit, none of the wise men would attempt to interpret it. Those who neither loved nor feared God could not understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. They could not approach unto the throne of him who dwelleth in light unapproachable. To them the things of God must remain mysteries. {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 5}
In this idolatrous nation testimony was again borne to the fact that only the servants of God can understand the mysteries of God. In the early days of the king’s acquaintance with Daniel, he had found that this man was the only one who could relieve him from perplexity; and now, in this later period of his reign, the king remembers his faithful servant of old,–a servant esteemed because of his unswerving integrity and constant faithfulness. NEBUCHADNEZZAR knew that Daniel’s wisdom was unexcelled, and that neither he nor his three fellow captives ever compromised principle in order to secure position in the court, or even to preserve life itself. The skill of his wise men proving ineffectual, the king sent for Daniel to interpret the DREAM. {YI, November 1, 1904 par. 6}