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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 4

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

Verses 1-37

Daniel 4:4-5

'Remember,' Mr. F. W. H. Myers once wrote to a friend, 'that first of all a man must, from the torpor of a foul tranquillity, have his soul delivered unto war.'

Reference. IV. 4, 5, 7. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii. p. 183.

Daniel 4:22-30

Can we believe that He whose words were so terrible against the pride of Egypt and Babylon, against that haughty insolence in men on which not Hebrew prophets only, but the heathen poets of Greece, looked with such peculiar and profound alarm, that He will not visit it on those who, in their measure, are responsible for its words and temper, when it takes possession of a Christian nation? Can we doubt what His judgment will one day be on the cynical parade of exclusive selfishness, the cynical worship of mere dexterity and adroitness, in the sophists and tyrants of the old heathen world; and can we doubt what He will think when Christians, disciples of the Lord of truth and righteousness, let themselves be dazzled in matters of right and wrong, by the cleverness of intellectual fence?... We have almost elevated pride to the rank of a national virtue; so far from seeing any harm in it, we extol it as a noble and admirable thing. You see it unconsciously revealed in the look and bearing which meet you constantly in society and in the streets. You see it in that tone of insolence which seems to come so naturally to many of us in the expression of our disapproval and antipathy.

R. W. Church.

Daniel 4:27

We can figure the thought of Louis that day, when, all royally caparisoned for hunting, he met, at some sudden turning in the wood of Senart, a ragged peasant with a coffin; For whom?' It was for a poor brother slave, whom Majesty had sometimes noticed slaving in those quarters. 'What did he die of?' 'Of hunger': the king gave his steed the spur.


A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.

Dr. Johnson.

Daniel 4:30

Kingsley, writing of Sir Walter Raleigh's haughty temper, observes: 'Proud? No wonder if the man be proud! "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built?" And yet all the while he has the most affecting consciousness that all this is not God's will, but the will of the flesh; that the house of fame is not the house of God; that its floor is not the rock of ages, but the sea of glass mingled with fire, which may crack beneath him at any moment, and let the nether flame burst up. He knows he is living in a splendid lie.'

In the preface to his Bible in Spain, Borrow attributes Spanish cruelties in religion not to fanaticism, but to the way in which Rome worked on the predominant feeling of pride in the Spanish nature: 'It was by humouring her pride that she was induced to waste her precious blood and treasure in Low Country wars, to launch the Armada, and to many other insane actions. Love of Rome had ever slight influence over her policy; but flattered by the title of Gonfaloniera of the Vicar of Jesus, and eager to prove herself not unworthy of the same, she shut her eyes, and rushed upon her own destruction with the cry of "Charge Spain".'

Daniel 4:30-37

Sorrow, pain, and death are sweet to whosoever dares, instead of fighting with or flying from them, to draw near, to examine closely, to inquire humbly, into their nature and their function. He began to perceive that these three reputed enemies, hated and feared of all men, are, after all, the fashioners and teachers of humanity; to whom it is given to keep hearts pure, godly, and compassionate, to purge away the dross of pride, hardness, and arrogance, to break the iron bands of ambition, self-love, and vanity, to purify by endurance and by charity.

Lucas Malet, Sir Richard Calmady.

The greatest obstacle to any improvement or change in John Bull's sentiments just now is the egregious vanity of the beast. He has been so plastered with flattery, that he has become an impervious mass of self-esteem. Nothing is so difficult as to alter the policy of individuals or nations who allow themselves to be persuaded that they are the 'envy of surrounding nations and the admiration of the world'. Time and adversity can alone operate in such cases.

Cobden to John Bright, in 1851.

Reference. IV. 34, 35. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No. 949.

Daniel 4:25 ; Daniel 4:37

This Nebuchadnezzar curse, that sends men to grass like oxen, seems to follow but too closely on the excess or continuance of national power and peace. In the perplexities of nations, in their struggle for existence, in their infancy, their impotence, or even their disorganization, they have higher hopes and nobler passions. Out of the suffering comes the serious mind; out of the salvation, the grateful heart; out of endurance, fortitude; out of deliverance, faith.

Ruskin, Modern Painters.

I found occasion at this time to conclude, that the Unio of our river fords secretes pearls so much more frequently than the Unionidœ and Anadonta of our still pools and lakes, not from any specific peculiarity in the constitution of the creature, but from the effects of the habitat which it is its nature to choose. It receives in the fords and shallows of a rapid river many a rough blow from sticks and peebles carrried down in times of flood, and occasionally from the feet of men and animals that cross the stream during droughts; and the blows induce the morbid secretions of which pearls are the result. There seems to exist no inherent cause why Anadon cygnea, with its beautiful silvery nacre as bright often, and always more delicate than that of Unio margaritiferus should not be equally productive of pearls; but, secure from violence in its still pools and lakes, it does not produce a single pearl for a hundred that are ripened into value and beauty by the exposed, current-tossed Unionidœ of our rapid mountain rivers. Would that hardship and suffering bore always in a creature of a greatly higher family similar results, and that the hard buffets dealt him by fortune in the rough stream of life could be transmuted, by some blessed internal predisposition of his nature, into pearls of great price.

Hugh Miller, My Schools and Schoolmasters.

Daniel 4:37

Express confessions give definiteness to memories that might more easily melt away without them.

George Eliot.

Reference. IV. 37. J. Keble, Sermons for the Sundays After Trinity, 262.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Daniel 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/daniel-4.html. 1910.
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