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Daniel 4

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Tree

1 King Nebuchadnezzar, To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth: May you prosper greatly!
2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.
4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.
5 I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.
6 So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me.
7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers[a] and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me.
8 Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
9 I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me.
10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous.
11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.
12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.
13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger,[b] coming down from heaven.
14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches.
15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. “ ‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth.
16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times[c] pass by for him.
17 “ ‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’
18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

Daniel Interprets the Dream

19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!
20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth,
21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds—
22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.
23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king:
25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.
26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.
27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

The Dream Is Fulfilled

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar.
29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon,
30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.
32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”
36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.
37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Daniel 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges the power of Jehovah. (1-18) Daniel interprets his dream. (19-27) The fulfilment of it. (28-37)

Verses 1-18 The beginning and end of this chapter lead us to hope, that Nebuchadnezzar was a monument of the power of Divine grace, and of the riches of Divine mercy. After he was recovered from his madness, he told to distant places, and wrote down for future ages, how God had justly humbled and graciously restored him. When a sinner comes to himself, he will promote the welfare of others, by making known the wondrous mercy of God. Nebuchadnezzar, before he related the Divine judgments upon him for his pride, told the warnings he had in a dream or vision. The meaning was explained to him. The person signified, was to be put down from honour, and to be deprived of the use of his reason seven years. This is surely the sorest of all temporal judgments. Whatever outward affliction God is pleased to lay upon us, we have cause to bear it patiently, and to be thankful that he continues the use of our reason, and the peace of our consciences. Yet if the Lord should see fit by such means to keep a sinner from multiplying crimes, or a believer from dishonouring his name, even the dreadful prevention would be far preferable to the evil conduct. God has determined it, as a righteous Judge, and the angels in heaven applaud. Not that the great God needs the counsel or concurrence of the angels, but it denotes the solemnity of this sentence. The demand is by the word of the holy ones, God's suffering people: when the oppressed cry to God, he will hear. Let us diligently seek blessings which can never be taken from us, and especially beware of pride and forgetfulness of God.

Verses 19-27 Daniel was struck with amazement and terror at so heavy a judgment coming upon so great a prince, and gives advice with tenderness and respect. It is necessary, in repentance, that we not only cease to do evil, but learn to do good. Though it might not wholly prevent the judgment, yet the trouble may be longer before it comes, or shorter when it does come. And everlasting misery will be escaped by all who repent and turn to God.

Verses 28-37 Pride and self-conceit are sins that beset great men. They are apt to take that glory to themselves which is due to God only. While the proud word was in the king's mouth, the powerful word came from God. His understanding and his memory were gone, and all the powers of the rational soul were broken. How careful we ought to be, not to do any thing which may provoke God to put us out of our senses! God resists the proud. Nebuchadnezzar would be more than a man, but God justly makes him less than a man. We may learn to believe concerning God, that the most high God lives for ever, and that his kingdom is like himself, everlasting, and universal. His power cannot be resisted. When men are brought to honour God, by confession of sin and acknowledging his sovereignty, then, and not till then, they may expect that God will honour them; not only restore them to the dignity they lost by the sin of the first Adam, but add excellent majesty to them, from the righteousness and grace of the Second Adam. Afflictions shall last no longer than till they have done the work for which they were sent. There can be no reasonable doubt that Nebuchadnezzar was a true penitent, and an accepted believer. It is thought that he did not live more than a year after his restoration. Thus the Lord knows how to abase those that walk in pride, but gives grace and consolation to the humble, broken-hearted sinner who calls upon Him.

Cross References 74

  • 1. S Daniel 3:4
  • 2. Daniel 6:25
  • 3. Psalms 74:9
  • 4. S Daniel 3:26
  • 5. S Psalms 105:27; Daniel 6:27
  • 6. Daniel 2:44
  • 7. Psalms 30:6; S Isaiah 32:9
  • 8. S Daniel 2:1
  • 9. Psalms 4:4
  • 10. Daniel 2:28
  • 11. ver 19; S Genesis 41:8; S Job 3:26; Daniel 2:3; Daniel 5:6
  • 12. Daniel 2:2
  • 13. S Genesis 41:8
  • 14. S Isaiah 44:25; S Daniel 2:2
  • 15. S Daniel 2:10
  • 16. S Daniel 1:7
  • 17. S Genesis 41:38; Daniel 5:11,14
  • 18. Daniel 2:48
  • 19. Daniel 5:11-12
  • 20. S ver 5; Psalms 4:4
  • 21. Ezekiel 31:3-4
  • 22. S Ezekiel 19:11; Ezekiel 31:5
  • 23. S Ezekiel 17:23; S Matthew 13:32
  • 24. ver 10; Daniel 7:1
  • 25. S ver 23; S Deuteronomy 33:2; Daniel 8:13
  • 26. S Job 24:20
  • 27. S Ezekiel 31:12; S Matthew 3:10
  • 28. ver 23,32
  • 29. ver 2,25; Psalms 83:18
  • 30. S Psalms 103:19; Jeremiah 27:5-7; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 5:18-21; Romans 13:1
  • 31. Daniel 11:21; Matthew 23:12
  • 32. S Genesis 41:8; Daniel 5:8,15
  • 33. S Genesis 41:15
  • 34. S Genesis 41:38
  • 35. ver 7-9; S Daniel 1:20
  • 36. S ver 5; S Genesis 41:8; Daniel 7:15,28; Daniel 8:27; Daniel 10:16-17
  • 37. S Genesis 40:12
  • 38. S Ezekiel 31:6
  • 39. S 2 Samuel 12:7
  • 40. Jeremiah 27:7; Daniel 2:37-38; Daniel 5:18-19
  • 41. ver 13; Daniel 8:13
  • 42. Daniel 5:21
  • 43. S Ezekiel 31:3-4
  • 44. Job 40:12; Psalms 107:40; Jeremiah 40:2
  • 45. S Job 24:8
  • 46. S ver 17; Psalms 83:18
  • 47. Jeremiah 27:5; S Daniel 2:47; Daniel 5:21
  • 48. ver 15
  • 49. S Daniel 2:37
  • 50. Isaiah 55:6-7
  • 51. Jeremiah 29:7
  • 52. S Deuteronomy 24:13; 1 Kings 21:29; S Psalms 41:3; S Proverbs 28:13; S Ezekiel 18:22
  • 53. Numbers 23:19
  • 54. Isaiah 13:19
  • 55. S Isaiah 10:13; S Isaiah 37:24-25; Daniel 5:20; Habakkuk 1:11; Habakkuk 2:4
  • 56. S 2 Samuel 22:28; Daniel 5:20
  • 57. S Job 9:12
  • 58. S Job 24:8
  • 59. Daniel 5:20-21
  • 60. S Job 12:20
  • 61. Daniel 12:7; Revelation 4:10
  • 62. Isaiah 37:16
  • 63. Psalms 145:13; S Daniel 2:44; Daniel 5:21; Daniel 6:26; Luke 1:33
  • 64. S Isaiah 40:17
  • 65. Deuteronomy 21:8; Psalms 115:3; S Psalms 135:6; John 1:14
  • 66. S Isaiah 14:27
  • 67. S Deuteronomy 32:39
  • 68. S Job 9:4; S Isaiah 14:24; S Isaiah 45:9; Daniel 5:21; Romans 9:20
  • 69. S Proverbs 22:4; Daniel 5:18
  • 70. S Exodus 15:2
  • 71. S Psalms 34:3
  • 72. Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 33:4-5
  • 73. Psalms 18:27; S Psalms 119:21
  • 74. Exodus 18:11; S Job 31:4; Job 40:11-12; S Isaiah 13:11; Daniel 5:20,23; Matthew 23:12

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or "Chaldeans"
  • [b]. Or "watchman" ; also in verses 17 and 23
  • [c]. Or "years" ; also in verses 23, 25 and 32

Chapter Summary


This chapter was written by Nebuchadnezzar himself; and was either taken out of his archives, or given by him to Daniel, who under divine inspiration inserted it into this work of his; and a very useful instruction it contains, showing the sovereignty of God over the greatest kings and potentates of the earth, and this acknowledged by one of the proudest monarchs that ever lived upon it. It begins with a preface, saluting all nations, and declaring the greatness and power of God, Da 4:1-3 then follows the narrative of a dream the king dreamed, which troubled him; upon which he called for his wise men to interpret it, but in vain; at length he told it to Daniel, Da 4:4-9: the dream itself; which being told, astonished Daniel, the king being so much interested in it, Da 4:10-19, the interpretation of it, with Daniel's advice upon it, is in Da 4:20-27 the fulfilment of it, time and occasion thereof, Da 4:28-33. Nebuchadnezzar's restoration to his reason and kingdom, for which he praises God, Da 4:34-37.

Daniel 4 Commentaries

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