This chapter is going to give us a great deal more information about this man, Nebuchadnezzar, than we have had before.
1Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied unto you. 2I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. 3How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
In verses 1-3 Nebuchadnezzar gives a marvelous testimony, and it shows development in the faith of this man. Back in Daniel 3:29 he issued a decree and expressed a conviction. Here he gives a personal testimony.
There it was a decree; here it is a decision. There it was a conviction and here it is a conversion. Nebuchadnezzar speaks here of the peace of heart which comes to a sinner when he knows he has been accepted of God and is at peace. His own tranquility was restored to him, as we shall see in this chapter.
He speaks also of what the high God hath wrought toward me/him. His testimony is very personal. God is no longer the God of only the three Hebrew children, he also testifies to God’s signs, His wonders and His dominion.
He recognizes and acknowledges that God’s rule, God’s kingdom, is above his. The peace which Nebuchadnezzar speaks can only come to the human heart when it knows God.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Back of all the trouble and travail that is in the world today, back of all the troubled hearts, is the question of sin. Everything in the world is being taught in our schools and colleges except the Word of God, but that is what can bring peace to a troubled world.
We find the first symptoms of Nebuchadnezzar’s form of insanity in verse 4.
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace.
Notice the personal pronouns: I, mine and my are already used three times in just the one verse. You will find them about three times in every verse from verses 4 -10. He had a bad case of I-itis.
I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
Daniel 4 is all about me and mine. Also in verses 6-9. Here we see where the weak men were called in again, but they were unable to give an interpretation of the dream.
It was God who gave both of his dreams, and only God could give the interpretation. Finally, Daniel was called in. Nebuchadnezzar had learned that Daniel was a Spirit-filled man and that interpretations were given him by God.
6Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. 8But 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, 9O 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.
10Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. 11The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: 12The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. 13I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; 14He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it and the fowls from his branches: 15Nevertheless 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: 16Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
These verses, 10-16, contain the substance of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream which centers around a tree that grew tall to heaven, wide enough to fill the whole earth. Its leaves were fair; it was a fruit tree, and its fruit was eaten by all. Beast stood in its shadow and birds rested in its branches.
A tree can represent a number of things. A tree can represent a man.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
7Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak saying, The LORD hath utterly separate me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
Also a tree can represent a nation, Ezekiel 31:3-14; Matthew 24:32-33.
(the tree: The glory of Assyria and the fall thereof for pride)
3Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. 4The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. 5Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. 6All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. 7Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters. 8The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. 9I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him. 10Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; 11I have therefore delivered him unto the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness. 12And strangers, the terrible of the nations have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him. 13Upon his ruin shall all the fowls of the heaven remain, and all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches: 14To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.
Matthew 24:32-33 (Jesus speaking)
32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
(“It” being the sign of the Son of Man, Jesus, from heaven)
The mustard tree in Matthew 13:31-32 represents Christendom today.
Matthew 13:31-32 (Jesus speaking)
31Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
The olive tree represents both Israel and the Gentiles in Romans 11:16-24.
16For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root but the root thee. 19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: 21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
So now we are back to verses 10 to 16 of Daniel Chapter 4. The tree here represents Nebuchadnezzar primarily and also his kingdom of Babylon. The king and kingdoms are inseparable. Now the tree was cut down, and an iron/brass band was put around its stump, to indicate that it would grow and flourish again in seven years and the heart of the ruler was to be changed into that of a beast.
There are three things that we learn from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
1. The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men. God is in control. Nations rise and fall to teach man that God rules and overrules the kingdoms of this world.
2. He giveth it to whomsoever He will. God disposes of these kingdoms according to His will.
3. Paul says in
The powers that be are ordained of God.
18This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee. 19Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation therof to thine enemies.
Daniel now interprets the king’s dream. The dream is a great shock and blow to Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar has become his friend and Daniel becomes his prime minister.
The first dream Nebuchadnezzar had dignified him, but this dream debases him. It is so bad that Daniel is reluctant to reveal it to the king, but Daniel is going to reveal it to the king…the full story.
Daniel is going to lay it on the line to Nebuchadnezzar, but he uses a great deal of tact in approaching the problem. First, he tells the king that the good in the dream is for the enemies of the king, verses 20-22.
20The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; 21Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: 22It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
The tree represents Nebuchadnezzar. He has grown strong and become great. He is a world ruler and has filled the then-civilized world. The picture here is of Nebuchadnezzar personally and of his dominion.
23And 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; 24This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
The tree (Nebuchadnezzar) is to be cut off but not totally rejected and like the beast of the field, he won’t even recognize who he is.
25That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 26And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
In verses 25 and 26 Daniel makes it clear why this dream was given to Nebuchadnezzar and why he is going to have this experience. Nebuchadnezzar is lifted up with pride, which was evidenced when he made that tremendous image and forced all mankind to fall down and worship him.
He is filled with pride and now God is going to humble him. He is to be driven out of his palace, out to pasture where he will make his abode with the oxen and forget what manner of man he was. God will bring Nebuchadnezzar out of his insanity later.
Pride is one of the things that God hates. Pride is the besetting sin of the human family, but what does man have to be proud of?
Jeremiah 9:23-24 says
23sup>“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving- kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
God’s salvation rules out pride. That is one thing you cannot have when you come to Christ for salvation. You must humble yourself. Paul said in
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
We have nothing in which we can glory!
16These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Nebuchadnezzar is disturbed within his own heart. He has no peace. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that he needs to repent of his sins. He advises him to repent in order to reverse the coming judgment. There is still hope for deliverance. Nebuchadnezzar could know the peace and tranquility of God.
A great deal of mental and emotional abnormalities that we see today are actually the result of spiritual problems, maybe not all of them. Much of the disturbed conditions we see in the lives of men are rooted in the spiritual condition. There is peace for them, if they would only come to Christ.
27Wherefore, 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 tranquility. 28All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. 29At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. 30The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
Nebuchadnezzar did not heed the warning of Daniel. One year of grace went by before judgment fell. How patient God is. The king looks about his great kingdom and he says, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built?” He was headed for a mental break.
31While 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. 32And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 33The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
Nebuchadnezzar moves out of the palace, out to live with nature. His kingdom slips from him. Under ordinary circumstances Nebuchadnezzar would never have been able to return to the throne, yet God promised that He would do so after he had learned his lesson.
34And 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 honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? 36At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. 37Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
His understanding comes back to him, and he adds these brief words to the testimony which he gave at the opening of this chapter. Nebuchadnezzar has learned now that God is running things, that He is in control of this universe.
He accepted this thing that had come to him as the will of God for him, yielding his proud mind to the will of God. That is what a great many believers need to do today.
Nebuchadnezzar’s reason returned to him; his position as king of Babylon was restored to him, and his officials once again surrounded him. The kingdom was not jeopardized during his long period of absence, and added majesty came to him because he had now come to the knowledge of the living and true God.