Making Sense of Daniel
Chapter 4: Tranquility Lost and Recovered
“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.”
- This chapter of Daniel is one of the exciting and worshipful chapters in the entire Bible. Humbly enjoy!
- Let every sober hearer and reader consider their own lives, lest their tranquility be taken away like his.
The INTRODUCTION (Dan 4:1-3)
- Let us consider Nebuchadnezzar briefly to remember all that Scripture says about him.
- He had the world’s greatest empire and was a king of kings (Dan 2:37-39; Eze 26:7).
- God gave him total dominion over many different nations (Jer 25:8-11; 27:1-8).
- The Scriptures describe him as the servant of God (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10).
- He destroyed Tyre, Egypt, and other nations (Ezekiel 26:7-21; 28:14; 43:8-13).
- He shows great zeal and extremity (Dan 2:1-9,12 cp Dan 2:46-49; 3:19-22 cp Dan 3:28-30).
- Burning Jews on one hand, he gave Jeremiah mercy (Jer 29:20-23 cp Jer 39:11-14).
- He did not learn to fear God from Daniel or his three friends (Dan 2:46-49; 3:28-30).
- This fourth chapter was written in Chaldean as an official proclamation to his empire.
- Observe the use of the first person by Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:1-2,4-18,34-37).
- The letter was sent to all people, nations, and languages under his wide reign.
- This chapter is a page from the historical archives of the Babylonian Empire.
- The king’s new humility was so great that he chose to tell of his terrible ordeal!
- Let us consider his opening remarks to fully appreciate the sober reflection he gives.
- Usually a terrible and warlike king, this letter opens with a salutation of peace!
- He testifies of God’s wonders, as we should (Mk 5:19; Ps 66:16; Dan 6:26-27).
- God is known by His judgments (Dan 4:3; Ps 9:16; 58:11; 78:1-8; 83:18; 106:21-22).
- He calls Jehovah “the high God,” which sets him apart from Babylon’s gods.
- How could a man think “it good” to tell details of things so personally horrible?
- Observe the exclamation marks! Nebuchadnezzar is praising the Lord strongly!
The DREAM (Dan 4:4-18)
- Nebuchadnezzar had rest and prosperity from God’s blessings upon him (Jer 27:1-8).
- God best describes the great wealth, glory, and power of the Babylon empire (Dan 2:37-39).
- Though confused by the dream, it still frightened the king (Dan 4:5; Job 4:12-21; 33:14-19).
- His false prophets and pagan devil worshippers could not help, just like before (Dan 2:1-13).
- Nebuchadnezzar here is no more a believer in the fourth chapter than he was in the first.
- He is still appealing to witchcraft for help and wisdom in time of trouble.
- He refers to Daniel as having the spirit of the holy gods, but misses Jehovah.
- He will know more at the end of this chapter, but he does not know much yet.
- Let us consider a few of the details of the dream as told by Nebuchadnezzar here.
- The tree was of great height, strength, fairness, fruit, and provided for all flesh.
- A watcher and a holy one came down – this is one angel coming from heaven.
- Observe that these are two descriptions of the singular “he” of Dan 4:14.
- Angels are God’s strong ministers doing His commands (Ps 103:20-21).
- They watch what we are doing (Eccl 5:6; I Cor 11:10; I Timothy 5:21).
- And they are particularly involved in government (Dan 10:13,20; II Pet 2:11).
- The tree is a male person by the use of male personal pronouns by the angel.
- The stump of the tree’s roots was to be preserved by a band of iron and brass.
- The order is for his heart to be changed from a man’s heart to that of a beast.
- Seven times is seven years by comparison (Dan 7:25 cp Rev 13:5 cp Rev 12:6 cp Rev 12:14).
- Decrees or demands of angels are only by the approval or order of God Himself.
- Angels cannot stand the violation of God’s ordained authority hierarchy.
- And the reason for their demand was to teach Nebuchadnezzar a lesson.
- They respect each other, rulers among men, and except us to do so also.
- Lest anyone fear, the holy angels only have wills for God’s holy will.
The INTERPRETATION (Dan 4:19-27)
- Daniel was unable to speak for one hour due to astonishment at the interpretation.
- Nebuchadnezzar wanted to hear no matter what, but Daniel knew how negative it was.
- Let us consider the details of the interpretation as given by Daniel to the great king.
- The tree represented Nebuchadnezzar in all his glory as Babylonian sovereign.
- The decree was by the most High, rather than merely a bright idea of angels.
- For seven years you will be driven from men to live with the beasts of the field.
- The band upon the stump of roots is to preserve his kingdom while on vacation!
- Daniel immediately implores the king to consider his ways to lengthen his tranquility.
The EVENT (Dan 4:28-33)
- Twelve months later, long enough for most of us to forget any lesson, the king boasts.
- While he was speaking, a voice came from heaven declaring that the dream was reality.
- Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest monarch in world history, spent seven years as an animal.
- He was driven out of the palace, as he began to act with his new beast’s heart.
- He did eat grass as oxen eat grass. He was not fed with scraps from the palace.
- He was not sheltered in any home or barn, for the dew covered him every night.
- His hairs grew out like eagles’ feathers, which shows a great bodily change.
- His nails grew like birds’ claws, or talons. He was now a wild man altogether.
The LESSON (Dan 4:34-37)
- God gave him his understanding back at the end of seven years to lift up eyes to heaven.
- The set period of time had already been determined by the Lord before it even began.
- There is a combination of God giving him understanding and he submitting to God.
- The praise coming from this monarch now is some of the sweetest words to God ever!
- God gave him back his reason, his kingdom, his honor, his respect, better than before.
- He summarizes the proclamation by his present choice to praise the King of heaven.
- There is no evidence Nebuchadnezzar was born again by what we are told in Daniel 4.
- Only those bordering on universalism see regeneration in the life of this king.
- The Bible says nothing about any lasting change in the life of Nebuchadnezzar.
- History says nothing about any revival or reformation in the Babylonian empire.
- Reverent faith in God does not prove regeneration by itself (Jas 2:19; Luk 4:34).
- God is still in the business of giving beastly hearts to men, as every sodomite shows us (Rom 1:18-32).
- God continues to deceive and delude those who reject His knowledge (Proverbs 14:14; II Thess 2:9-12).
- If God judged ignorant Nebuchadnezzar so severely, how severe shall we be judged (Hebrews 2:1).
- Let us fear the Lord and carefully examine our ways, lest their be a horrible removal of our tranquility.
- Loving life and seeing good days (long tranquility) is by hating evil and doing good (I Peter 3:10-11).
- Tranquility can be restored by repentance, as Ahab and Nineveh show (I Kings 21:25-29; Jonah 3:10).