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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 4

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


We are here brought acquainted with another dream of Nebuchadnezzar, which Daniel interprets. The event of the same is also awfully related.

Verses 1-3

The proud and insolent monarch is here brought to account for his daring impiety towards God, and his cruelty to the Lord's servants. And he is not only compelled to bow down before the Lord's sovereignty, but compelled, to publish his disgrace to all the world, and confess, that the Lord's hand in his just judgment had been upon him. Reader! behold in this man, how sure the scriptures are in truth, that there is, there must be, a day coming to every sinner, in which the Lord will judge the world in righteousness. Psalms 58:11 .

Verses 4-18

Observe several striking particulars in this man's account. First, he tells us, that he was at rest in his house, and flourishing. Yes! the word of God teacheth the people of God to be on the lookout for the sudden downfall of sinners. When such say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as upon a woman in travail, so that they cannot escape. I venture on this occasion to observe, that God's people are not as attentive as they ought to be, and as the word of the Lord recommends them to be, to those sudden judgments of God upon the enemies of his Christ. For though the great day of their ruin is deferred to that day, when the Lord will arise to punish the ungodly, and to minister true judgment to the people; yet, very frequently now, the Lord speaks in a loud voice, for his people, and to his people, in the striking chastisement shown to the Christ-despising generation of the present day. Reader! I pray you henceforth, look more to this in what is going on in the world, and depend upon it, you will find continual instances in proof, that, for the oppression of the poor, and the sighing of the needy, the Lord doth arise. Psalms 12:5 . Secondly, in this account of Nebuchadnezzar, he is compelled to see and to confess, that his misery was of the Lord. Here was a bitter aggravation of his ruin. It was that God whom he had defied, which now smote him, and which made every scourge a scorpion. Thirdly, the wretch trembled, he tells us, in the very recollection of his vision. His own mind, his own conscience, his own guilty fears, sounded the alarm, and left him no retreat. What an awful representation of this kind the man of God hath given of this state of hell upon earth, Deuteronomy 28:65-67 . Fourthly, the magicians and wise men he consulted could afford him no help: no, not so much as to be able to explain to him what he wanted to know. Reader! think what a dreadful state that is, when a soul is out of Christ, and under the alarms of a guilty conscience, which no brother, no kind neighbor, no tender-hearted friend, can in the least minister unto. Precious Jesus! how sweet is it to have thee for a brother upon all occasions of sorrow! thou art indeed one born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 . Fifthly, behold the necessity imposed upon him to send for Daniel, whose advice he had so set at nought, and whose God he had so boldly despised. Such is the case not unfrequently in ordinary life. Who so laughed at as God's faithful servants, by the sinner in the days of his jollity and mirth? Who so earnestly sought after in the day of sickness and death? When the Reader hath paused sufficiently over these solemn considerations, as they arise out of the view of the state of Nebuchadnezzar's mind; let him attend to the several features of the alarming vision of the night, with which the Lord visited the King, according to the interpretation of Daniel.

Verses 19-26

How beautiful the subject of Daniel's interpretation is introduced! Who, but must be struck to behold the youthful Prophet on the one hand, standing like one amazed, in hearing the King's dream; and on the other, to behold Nebuchadnezzar hardened and insensible. See how every part is applied, how every feature corresponds, and how the whole comes up to the conviction, that the punishment is of the Lord. What effect it had for the moment upon Nebuchadnezzar is not said, but we cannot enough admire the faithfulness of Daniel, in concealing nothing from him, nor the grace of God, in enabling him to be faithful. Reader! remember Jesus's promise to this effect to his disciples. Matthew 10:18-20 .

Verse 27

I have reserved this verse to be read by itself, on purpose to call the Reader's more particular attention to it. Though Daniel knew that he was an enemy to God and his Christ; and though Daniel's zeal for God's cause threw aside all other considerations yet, there was, and always is a may be in every case, that as Daniel here said, the lengthening of a day of tranquility, and the putting off the evil day, might be allowed. Reader! such will be the day of vengeance, in terror, that like Moses at the Mount, the most faithful, when rejoicing in their own salvation, will rejoice with trembling in beholding the overwhelming horrors of the ungodly. Hebrews 12:21 ; Psalms 119:120 ; Habakkuk 3:16 .

Verses 28-33

Reader! how truly affecting is this history! What an awful testimony in confirmation, that the judgment of the enemies of God's Christ, lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. Some curious characters among men, more intent on enquiring into the mode and manner of God's punishments, than anxious for a knowledge of the causes of them, have demanded, whether this judgment was literally so as described, or whether it was a deprivation of the King's reason? But it is worthy my Reader's observation, that God the Holy Ghost is never disposed to gratify men's curiosity. Too many, it is to be feared, read God's word with this disposition, and therefore wrest it to their own destruction. Jesus, the chief corner stone in Zion, is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence to the scoffer. That Nebuchadnezzar was humbled to the lowest possible degree of humbling, is plain. And that God whom he had defied manifested his hand in it: these are the great points plainly taught in this scripture. Here then is enough for the faithful to know; and that promise is fulfilled in it, when the wicked are cut off thou shalt see it. Psalms 37:34 .

Verses 34-37

What a wonderful train of providences passed upon this man! What language is here for such a man as Nebuchadnezzar to utter! One might be almost led to hope, that grace was given to him, seeing he expressed himself in such words. But, as God the Holy Ghost is silent on this point, so must we. Here his history ends. And here therefore we must leave him. I only beg the Reader not to be carried away with appearances, in favor of any man, merely from what is said by him. Men may go great lengths in talking of God, who never walked with God. Witness Balaam, Numbers 23:9-10 . Witness Caiaphas, John 11:49-52 . Nothing short of the regeneration of the heart, can be an evidence of the divine life: and this, we have no reason nor authority to infer was in his character.

Verse 37


I pray the Reader to ponder well, from the history here given, in the character of one of the greatest monarchs that ever swayed the sceptre of the world, the wretched state of man void of the grace of God. Respecting outward circumstances, there was nothing Nebuchadnezzar wanted to constitute happiness. But what were all outward circumstances, when thus left a prey to the desolate state of a guilty mind, under the hand of God! Reader! mark well the solemn lesson, and turn it every way, the instruction is the same. In the present fallen state of mankind, there is nothing that can bring comfort but Jesus. Everything beside is tinged with vanity. As many as are under the laws of Moses are condemned; and they without the law, are, as the Apostle saith, a law unto themselves; their conscience accusing, or else excusing; and they are, and must be always miserable. Let their condition be what it may, there is nothing that can give peace. But, my brother, if Christ be your portion, He sweetens all; He sanctifies all. Beautifully to this purport, speaks the Lord by the Prophet. In that day (saith the Lord) will I make a covenant for them, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow, and the sword, and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. The sense is; All things, and all creatures, shall promote the peace of him that is at peace with God. He that overcometh (saith another scripture) shall inherit all things. I will be his God and he shall be my son. Lord Jesus! make such views blessed, both to Writer and Reader, that in thee, and in thee alone, we may seek for a portion to live upon, in time, and to all eternity!

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Daniel 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/daniel-4.html. 1828.
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