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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Daniel 4

 

 

Verses 1-28

Justification: God Exalts the Righteous and Humbles the Proud - Daniel 4:1 to Daniel 6:28 records the stories of Daniel's prophetic interpretation and fulfillment of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which predicted his madness for a season ( Daniel 4:1-27). In this interpretation Daniel calls the king to repent and stand righteous before God in order to obtain His mercies ( Daniel 4:27). The king is struck mad in the midst of his boasting, only having his mind restored after the season predicted by Daniel's interpretation of the dream. King Nebuchadnezzar repents when his mind is restored, gives all glory to God, declaring Him true and just, and he finds God's mercy in that God restores to him his kingdom and his splendor ( Daniel 4:28-37). This story is followed by King Belshazzar's drunken pride, when his boasting is interrupted by a divine handwriting upon the wall. Daniel interprets the dream as divine judgment upon the king, only to find its fulfillment that same night in the death of the king and the fall of Babylon ( Daniel 5:1-31). Darius the Mede exalts Daniel above his other governors because of his just character. Daniel's right standing before God is tested in the lion's den and he is proven genuine. Thus, he prospers during the reigns of Darius and Cyprus ( Daniel 6:1-28).


Verses 1-37

Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream (582to 575 B.C.) - Daniel 4:1-37 gives us the story of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the cutting of the great tree and his subsequent seven years of madness and restoration. As far as dating this particular event, scholars note that there is no Babylonian record of governmental events took place during the years of 582to 575 B.C. Thus, this is a very likely period of time for Nebuchadnezzar's madness to take place.

Daniel served the king by interpreting this second important dream for him. Both dreams that Daniel interpreted for the king brought him to a place of acknowledging the God of Israel as the true God.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The King Recounts His Dream — Daniel 4:1-18

2. Daniel Interprets the Dream — Daniel 4:19-27

3. The Divine Judgment upon King Nebuchadnezzar — Daniel 4:28-33

4. The King's Restoration — Daniel 4:34-37

The King's Mental Illness- Some scholars suggest that King Nebuchadnezzar's illness was a mental illness known to medical science as lycanthropy, in which a person imagines himself to be an animal, and upon their recovery from insanity, is able to remember the events during their illness. 80] The king's fall and restoration is a great example of how God is able to use a person who has fallen into sin and is willing to come back to God. After this king was restored, he gave an anointed testimony of God's greatness, which caused many people to place their faith and trust in God.

80] E. B. Pusey writes, "It is now conceded that the madness of Nebuchadnezzar agrees with the description of a rare sort of disease, called Lycanthropy, from one form of it, of which our earliest notice is in a Greek medical writer of the 4th century after our Lord, in which the sufferer retains his consciousness in other respects, but imagines himself to be changed into some animal, and Acts , up to a certain point, in conformity with that persuasion." See E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet: Nine Lectures, Delivered in the Divinity School of the University of Oxford (Oxford: James Parker and Company, 1865), 428-429.

We find a similar judgment in Romans 1:16-32 when Paul the apostle describes the testimony of God's divine wrath upon mankind. As men progress into sin He turns them over to a reprobate mind until they are entirely depraved. Because they do not repent as King Nebuchadnezzar repented, God turns them over unto deeper degrees of depravity. This human depravity becomes the testimony for other men of God's divine judgment and wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

The Watchers - Word Study on "a watcher" - Gesenius says the Hebrew word "watcher" ( עִיר) (H 5894) means, "a guard, a watcher, a name of angels in the later Hebrew, from their guarding the souls of men." Strong says it means, "a watcher, an angel (as guardian)," and comes from the primitive root word ( עוּר) (H 5782), which means, "to wake, raise up, stir up, lift up." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 3times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "watcher 3." The Hebrew word is only found in this passage in Daniel 4:13; Daniel 4:17; Daniel 4:23.

Daniel 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;"

Daniel 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."

Daniel 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;"

Comments- Scholars believe that this "watcher" was an angelic being from sent heaven together with another angelic being called "a holy one" ( Daniel 4:13; Daniel 4:23) to give a decree to men from the throne of God. We read about watchers in the apocryphal literature, which was written during the inter-biblical period. In the books of 1Enoch (15; 201), 81] 2Enoch (71-5, 181), 82] The Book of Jubilees (415, 22; 721; 83; 105), 83] and The Book of Adam and Eve, 84] these watchers were angels who were sent down from heaven to guide men in the ways of righteousness. Scholars believe that it is some of these watchers who took for themselves wives from the daughters of men in Genesis 6:4, and thus invoked the Flood upon mankind during the time of Noah.

81] 1Enoch, trans. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2, ed. R. H. Charles, 163-281 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), 188, 201.

82] 2Enoch, trans. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2, ed. R. H. Charles, 425-469 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), 433, 439.

83] The Book of Jubilees, trans. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2, ed. R. H. Charles, 1-82 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), 19, 20, 24, 25, 28.

84] S. C. Malan, The Book of Adam and Eve, also Called the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan (London: Williams and Norgate, 1882).

Genesis 6:4, "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."

Daniel 4:1-18 — The King Recounts His Dream - In Daniel 4:1-18 King Nebuchadnezzar recounts his dream.

Daniel 4:2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.

Daniel 4:2Comments - The king of Babylon recognized the God of Israel as the "Most High God," a title that reflected the highest view of the God of Israel in the midst of a polytheistic culture.

Daniel 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,

Daniel 4:8Comments - Daniel had previously interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar ( Daniel 2:1-49). He was now recognized by the king as the chief of the magicians ( Daniel 4:9). Yet, he was called in last of all those summoned to interpret the king's dream. The biblical text does not give the reason for Daniel's late summons, with all the magicians summoned before him.

Daniel 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.

Daniel 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:

Daniel 4:15 — "even with a band of iron and brass" - Comments- Many variety of trees will sprout new branches from the stump or even the roots when the trunk is cut down. An iron band wrapped around the stump would prevent such sprouts from growing.

Daniel 4:19-27 — Daniel Interprets the Dream - In Daniel 4:19-27 the prophet Daniel interprets the king's dream.

Daniel 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;

Daniel 4:23Comments - The analogy of a great tree providing shelter for the animals is used a number of times in Scriptures. Note a similar analogy in Ezekiel 17:22-24 of a great tree providing shade and shelter for animals.

Ezekiel 17:22-24, "Thus saith the Lord GOD I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent: In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it."

In the New Testament, Jesus tells the Parable of the Mustard Seed in which the seed grew into a great that provided shade and shelter for birds. This tree represents the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mark 4:31-32, "It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it."

Daniel 4:27 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 4:27Comments- In Daniel 4:27 Daniel , or Belteshazzar, as he is called in this passage, warns the king of his sins in hopes that God would show him mercy and repent of such judgment upon him. We find God repenting of such in the lives of kings Hezekiah and Josiah. In 2 Kings 20:1-11 God extended the king's life by fifteen years because he humbled himself before God. God delayed His divine judgment upon the people of Judah because of the repentance of King Josiah ( 2 Chronicles 34:19-28).

Daniel 4:28-33 — The Divine Judgment upon King Nebuchadnezzar - Daniel 4:28-33 describes the condition of King Nebuchadnezzar when he fell under God's divine judgment and lost his sanity for a period of six years. The question must be asked as to why God judged King Nebuchadnezzar in this manner. We do know that the word of God had been proclaimed to the king through Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, so that he had no excuse for his ignorance of the ways of God. Romans 1:19-32 tells us that when a person deliberately turns from the truth unto a lie, God turns him over to a reprobate mind. Perhaps this is the divine law that was at work in turning King Nebuchadnezzar over to the mind of a beast for seven years of judgment. A similar passage in Job 12:24-25 tells us that God "takes away the heart of the chief of the people."

Job 12:24-25, "He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way. They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man."

Illustration- I find it interesting to compare my life with King Nebuchadnezzar in respect to divine judgment. The period of seven years reflects divine interaction, with the seventh year being the year of restoration, similar to the Sabbatical year under the Mosaic Law. I was raised in church and saved at the age of seven years old. However, there was a six year period in my life that I backslide, between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one years old. Years later when reading about King Nebuchadnezzar's restoration in the seventh years, I realized that I came to my senses and returned to the Lord in my seventh year. Perhaps the Lord deals with His people today in such time frames.

Daniel 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.

Daniel 4:31Comments - The voice of God the Father spoke from Heaven to mankind on a number of occasions. God spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar when he took his mind from him for a season ( Daniel 4:31). God spoke from Heaven at the water baptism of His Son Jesus Christ ( Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22). God spoke to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration ( Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35-36, 2 Peter 1:17-18). God spoke to Jesus when He rode into Jerusalem before His Passion ( John 12:28-29). Jesus spoke to Paul from Heaven on the road to Damascus ( Acts 9:3-7).

Daniel 4:34-37 — The King's Restoration - Comments- In Daniel 4:34-37 King Nebuchadnezzar describes his wonder recovery from six years of insanity.

Daniel 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:

Daniel 4:34Comments- In Daniel 4:34 king Nebuchadnezzar's mind returned to him after God turned his mind into a beast of the field for seven years ( Daniel 4:34). We find other examples in Scripture where God hid things from men's minds. For example, God hid the Shunammite's request from Elisha ( 2 Kings 4:27). Jesus said that God the Father had hidden the Gospel from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes ( Matthew 11:25, Luke 10:21; Luke 19:42, John 12:40). The disciples did not understand Jesus' graphic descriptions of His future Passion because "this saying was hid from them" ( Luke 18:34). The two on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus until "their eyes were opened" ( Luke 24:16; Luke 24:31). Jesus then appeared to the Twelve and "opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures" ( Luke 24:31; Luke 24:45).

Bill Wiese tells the story of how the Lord took him to hell and back so that he would tell others that hell is a real place. His journey began when he was dropped into a prison cell inhabited by two large demons. He says, "I did not know how I had arrived there. The fact that I knew God was kept from my mind. This was explained to me later by the Lord Himself. In retrospect, I know that there are several scriptures indicating that God does sometimes hide things from man's mind." 85] In other words, Jesus sent Bill Wiese to hell with the mind that he was a sinner who had never known the Lord as his Saviour. Jesus returned and took Wiese out of hell, at which time his mind and memory were restored.

85] Bill Wiese, 23Minutes in Hell (Lake Mary, Florida: Charis House, c 2006), 9.

Daniel 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:"

Matthew 11:25, "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."

Luke 10:21, "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even Song of Solomon , Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight."

Luke 18:34, "And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken."

Luke 19:42, "Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes."

Luke 24:16, "But their eyes were holden that they should not know him."

Luke 24:31, "And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight."

Luke 24:45, "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,"

John 12:40, "He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Daniel 4:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/daniel-4.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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