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Daniel: Chapter 4


Daniel 4 provides the view of the Lord working among the Gentiles to bring them into His saving grace.  The chapter records the second dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and brings into sharp focus the sovereignty of God among manís activities.   The Lord is sovereign over all nations and individuals, as shown in Daniel 2, which provides the interpretation of the kingís first dream.  The Lord revealed to both Jews and Gentiles the march of Gentile nations in time, their ultimate destruction, and the establishment of the millennial reign of Christ.  God works in a manís life to bring him to a full recognition that it is God, and not man, who establishes a manís way.  God sets up kingdoms and throws them down with both judgment and grace.

The first three verses in Daniel 4 is the greeting from King Nebuchadnezzar to all mankind, through all of the following centuries.  A formerly brutal but now contrite man, the king provides a witness to all on the transformation that takes place in a person's life when they come into a full relationship with the Lord in the life.  His letter demonstrates that God can change the heart of any person who desires to know and accept God in his life.  When the first three chapters in the book of Daniel are examined from the perspective of King Nebuchadnezzarís progression to becoming a God fearing man, we see the following:

  • In Daniel 1, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (who were captives from the first campaign against Jerusalem) are all recognized before the king to be ten times better than all of his wisest men, and Daniel was brought into favor with those who oversaw his training by the Lord, Daniel 1:9.
  • In Daniel 2, after receiving from Daniel the details and interpretation of the dream of the king, King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that the God Daniel worshiped was ďaĒ God of gods, and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, Daniel 2:47.  He elevated the God of Daniel from just a curious interest to the same level of the other gods he worshiped.
  • In Daniel 3, after witnessing the miraculous intervention by God to preserve Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace, the king acknowledged that there was no other god who could deliver in the way that their God had done, Daniel 3:28-29.
  • Finally, as is shown below, in Daniel 4 the king is humbled, and brought to the point where he exhibits a contrite heart.  In the end of the chapter, he offers praise to God.

Daniel 3 does not show the kingís recognition of the need to inquire and submit to the fourth person he saw in the fire. Instead, it shows the king's attempt to appease God through his own power and efforts through the decree he made for his entire kingdom. He decreed that anyone and their dwelling would be destroyed if they were to say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel 3:29-30.  This is not the mark of a man that has submitted to God, Isaiah 57:15.  However, in Daniel 4, we see this transformation, just like it is described by Paul in Romans 12:1-3.  King Nebuchadnezzarís benediction reveals his submissive spirit, Daniel 4:34-37.  

The evidence of the kingís conversion was his lifting up his eyes to heaven.  No longer was he relying on his own strength, but on God for his deliverance. He spent much time in praise as well.  Paul also referenced the state of a person relative to God, and the work of the Holy Spirit in oneís life in 1Corinthians 12:2-3.  Not only had God restored King Nebuchadnezzar to his throne, but God in His graciousness, added excellent majesty to the king, so that his realm increased more than at the beginning of the fulfillment of the dream. This is the last of the writing of the king in the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel is not about King Nebuchadnezzar, his life and death, but about the sovereignty of God over manís activities.

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-3 King Nebuchadnezzar's greeting
4-7 The king's alarming vision
8-12 The king tells Daniel of the first part of the dream
13-18 The second half of the dream
19-27 Daniel interprets the vision
28-33 The king's pride and the fulfilled vision
34-37 King Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom restored and his exaltation of the Lord

King Nebuchadnezzar's greeting     Chapter Outline     Top

Daniel 4:1 is the beginning of King Nebuchadnezzarís letter to his entire realm.  This is not a decree as in previous occasions when attempting to address himself to the God of Daniel and of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  Rather, this is a personal note from a changed man who is introducing to his kingdom the God he now worships.  Daniel 4:1 is the king's greeting and testimony to the world that is in direct contrast with the kingís decree in Daniel 3:29.  

In Daniel 4:2-3, the king demonstrates the change in his life and acknowledges the Lordís work in his life, and the greatness of the Lordís dominion.  One can only wonder if the king recalled the events in  Daniel 2:42-45 concerning the formation of Godís eternal kingdom at the end of the Gentile era, as revealed in the kingís dream of the great image, as he penned these words.

The king's alarming vision     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 4:4-7, the king describes the events that lead up to his second dream.  He was resting, and flourishing in his palace when the dream came to him.  Unlike the first dream he had, which was very unsettling and he had forgotten the details, Daniel 2:1-3, on this occasion he was able to remember the dream.  He thought on the dream, but as with the first dream, the visions he had troubled him, Daniel 2:1.  The king called for all the wise men to make known to him the interpretation of the dream. It is very curious why he did not call on the one man he knew would be able to provide him the interpretation. On this occasion, the king told the wise men the dream, which was quite similar to the situation with Pharaoh in Genesis 41:1-36. However, this dream of King Nebuchadnezzar had nothing to do with future Gentile kingdoms as before, it was a warning to him.

The king tells Daniel the first part of the dream     Chapter Outline     Top

As before, the king was unable to receive any satisfaction from his wise men, so he called for Daniel, Daniel 4:8-12.  This time he calls him both by his Hebrew name and his Babylonian name Belteshazzar (meaning Bel protect his life, the name of the kingís favorite god Marduk).  He now recognizes that the Spirit of the Holy God was in Daniel, and makes the distinction against his other false gods.   As the king begins to describe his dream, he begins to detail the first part of the dream.  He witnessed a tree of in the midst of the earth, with great height, strength, and visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were lovely, provided abundant fruit for food and shelter to all, which is a stunning validation of what the Lord had revealed to him in Daniel 2:36-38, where he was the head of gold, the greatest of all the succeeding Gentile nations.  

The second half of the dream     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 4:13-18, the king refers to watchers, which are the same as angels, such as seen in Genesis 18:16-22, Genesis 28:12-15, Genesis 32:1-2, Daniel 10:4-13, Daniel 12:1, and Zechariah 1:8-11.  In the New Testament, it is written in the book Hebrews that God sees all, and that everyone will oneday have to given an accoutn for their actions, Hebrews 4:12-13.  

King Nebuchadnezzar heard in his dream the watchers saying to chop down the tree, cut off the branches, scatter the fruit, and no longer shelter the beasts of the earth. The watcher further commanded that the stump should be bound with iron and bronze bands. It is interesting that these two bands are the same metals in the king's metallic image dream, which are to follow his kingdom. The possible meaning of this dream is that the succeeding two kingdoms will be built upon those things that King Nebuchadnezzar had established during his reign. The roots and stump of his kingdom will continue to supply the nourishment of culture and infrastructure and other aspects of King Nebuchadnezzar's realm that the future kingdoms will rely on and build upon.

The king also reported that he heard the watcher say that the grass is to be wet with dew for grazing, and that he would graze with the beasts. During that time, the heart of the king will be changed to that of a beast. Finally, the purpose of the judgment was to let all know that the Lord rules in the kingdom of men, and sets the lowest of men over the kingdoms, just as described in the image dream in Daniel 2:20-21.

Dan interprets the vision     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 4:19-27, Daniel expresses great concern for the welfare of the king based on what he has heard of the dream. As a result, he is reluctant in telling the interpretation without care and concern. It appears that Daniel had a great relationship or admiration for the king. In Daniel 4:20-21, Daniel reveals an association between the greatness of the tree and all its attributes with the greatness of the king and his dominion. This is in comparison to the king's original dream where the head of gold was identified as King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 2:36-38. Daniel continues to reveal the full intent of the kings dream. He also informed the king that he will be judged and graze with the beasts of the field for seven years, until the king acknowledges the Lord over the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever he chooses. Despite the severity of the judgment, the Lord had also revealed to the king that his dominion will be restored, but only after the king humbles himself before the Lord.

The advice and council that Daniel gives to the king is to turn from his sins and be righteous.  In so doing, Daniel suggests that the period of peace that the king was then enjoying would be lengthened.  Notice however, that Daniel was not implying that the judgment would be avoided by such a change in behavior, Ezekiel 14:12-14, Micah 6:8.  

The king's pride and the fulfilled vision     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 4:28-33, the fulfillment of the dream occurs as a result of pride welling up within the king. As written in Ecclesiastes 8:11, once the occasion of sin had occurred, the imputation of the judgment was immediate.  It appears that a period of time had expired between the kings dream and the time when he expresses his pride in a sinful way.  About 12 months had elapsed.  

A similar pattern of delay from when the word of the Lord was revealed to an individual or group, and the commencement of the judgment is evident throughout the scriptures.  The Lord gave 120 years before the flood, Genesis 6:3, 1 Peter 3:20.  The two books (among others) in the Bible that declare judgment upon Nineveh, Jonah and Nahum, show that the Lord's judgment would occur, but because of their repentance and brokenness before the Lord upon hearing the prophesy through Jonah, the execution of the judgment was delayed, Jonah 3:5-10.  It was over a 100 years later when Nahum was called upon by the Lord to again prophesy against the city after it had returned to its wicked ways, and then it was destroyed by the Babylonians.  Also, 40 years elapsed after Israel rejected Christ before the destruction by Titus.  There may also be a period of time between the rapture of the church and the commencement of the seven years of tribulation.  By Daniel 4:33, the prophesy to King Nebuchadnezzar is fulfilled.  There are several passages in scripture that reveal the Lord's hatred toward a man's prideful heart, such as Proverbs 6:16-19, Proverbs 16:5, Proverbs 8:13, Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 11:2, and James 4:6.

King Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom restored and his exaltation of the Lord     Chapter Outline     Top

In Daniel 4:34-37, King Nebuchadnezzar finally humbles himself before the Lord, and confesses that the Lord is God.  He gives praise to the Lord, and recognizes His unending reign, and the extent goes from generation to generation.  The king is now looking to the Lord and his acknowledgement of the Lord's sovereignty is similar to Daniel 4:3, which is congruent with Romans 10:8-11.  Just as Job received double of what he had prior to his testing, Job 42:10-13, King Nebuchadnezzar receives the restoration of his kingdom with excellent majesty.  In Daniel 4:37 the king reveals his new nature, just as the Apostle Paul wrote centuries later, that a man of God would have a renewed mind, and prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, Romans 12:1-2. There are many other passages that deal with the issue of humility and humbleness before the Lord, Proverbs 3:33-34, James 4:7-10, and 1 Peter 5:6-7. From Daniel 1 through Daniel 4, we see the Lord revealing Himself to the king in a number of ways, in reaching out to have a restored relationship with the King Nebuchadnezzar, just has the Lord has done to me and you.  In the same way, the Lord revealed Himself to the Jews of His day, even though they sought to persecute and kill the Lord because Jesus said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God, and He broke the Sabbath by doing good works on that day of the week. The Lord answered them saying that the Father has been working until now, and I have been working. Later He said that the Son can do nothing of Himself, but only what He sees the Father do, for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner, John 5:14-20. So the Father and Son are actively working to bring all men unto the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, Ephesians 2:4-10, and it is through the Holy Spirit working in the world today who is convicting the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He is the one to guide us into all truth unto those who are born again in Christ, John 16:7-16, John 3:3-21.

Now is the time to turn to the Lord if you have not yet done so.  Follow this link to the section on Salvation.  Seek the Lord, and you will find Him, repent from all your ways, will and pride, and ask the Lord into your life as your Lord, then enjoy an eternity with the one true God, who created all things, and loves you without measure and without bounds.  His is an eternity of love.

Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014