Daniel 4

Listen to Daniel 4

Nebuchadnezzar Praises God

1 [a] King Nebuchadnezzar to all 1peoples, nations, and languages, 2that dwell in all the earth: 3Peace be multiplied to you!
2 It has seemed good to me to show the 4signs and wonders that the 5Most High God has done for me.
3 How great are 6his signs, how mighty his 7wonders! 8His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, 9and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream

4 [b] I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace.
5 I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and 10the visions of my head alarmed me.
6 So 11I made a decree that 12all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.
7 Then 13the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers came in, and I told them the dream, but 14they could not make known to me its interpretation.
8 At last Daniel came in before me--he who was named 15Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and in whom is 16the spirit of the holy gods[c]--and I told him the dream, saying,
9 "O Belteshazzar, 17chief of the magicians, because I know that 18the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no 19mystery is too difficult for you, tell me 20the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretation.
10 21The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and 22behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great.
11 23The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth.
12 24Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. 25The beasts of the field found shade under it, and 26the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it.
13 "I saw in 27the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, 28a watcher, 29a holy one, came down from heaven.
14 He 30proclaimed aloud and said thus: 31'Chop down the tree and 32lop off its branches, 33strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. 34Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches.
15 But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth.
16 Let his mind be changed from a man's, and let a beast's mind be given to him; 35and let seven periods of time 36pass over him.
17 The sentence is by the decree of 37the watchers, the decision by the word of 38the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High 39rules the kingdom of men 40and gives it to whom he will and 41sets over it the lowliest of men.'
18 This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. And you, O 42Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because 43all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able, for 44the spirit of the holy gods is in you."

Daniel Interprets the Second Dream

19 Then Daniel, whose name was 45Belteshazzar, was 46dismayed for a while, and 47his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, "Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you." Belteshazzar answered and said, "My lord, 48may the dream be for those who hate you 49and its interpretation for your enemies!
20 50The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth,
21 51whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived--
22 52it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. 53Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, 54and your dominion to the ends of the earth.
23 And because the king saw 55a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 56'Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till 57seven periods of time pass over him,'
24 this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king,
25 58that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made 59to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and 60seven periods of time shall pass over you, till 61you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.
26 And as it was commanded 62to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules.
27 Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by 63practicing righteousness, 64and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, 65that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity."

Nebuchadnezzar's Humiliation

28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar.
29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon,
30 and the king answered and said, 66"Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by 67my mighty power as a royal residence and for 68the glory of my majesty?"
31 69While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, "O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you,
32 70and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, 71until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will."
33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. 72He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.

Nebuchadnezzar Restored

34 73At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and 74my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored 75him who lives forever, 76for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and 77his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 78all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and 79he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; 80and none can stay his hand or 81say to him, "What have you done?"
36 At the same time 82my reason returned to me, and for 83the glory of my kingdom, 84my majesty and splendor returned to me. 85My counselors and 86my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was 87added to me.
37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, 88praise and extol and honor the 89King of heaven, 90for all his works are right and his ways are just; and 91those 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 91

  • 1. See Daniel 3:4
  • 2. Daniel 6:25
  • 3. 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2
  • 4. Daniel 6:27; [John 4:48]
  • 5. Daniel 3:26
  • 6. [See ver. 2 above]
  • 7. [See ver. 2 above]
  • 8. See Daniel 2:44
  • 9. See Daniel 2:44
  • 10. Daniel 2:28; Daniel 7:15
  • 11. See Daniel 3:10
  • 12. Daniel 2:12
  • 13. See Daniel 2:2
  • 14. [ver. 18; Daniel 2:27; Daniel 5:8, 15]
  • 15. See Daniel 1:7
  • 16. ver. 18; Daniel 2:11; Daniel 5:11; Genesis 41:38; [Isaiah 63:14]
  • 17. Daniel 5:11; [Daniel 2:48]
  • 18. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 19. Daniel 2:18
  • 20. [See ver. 5 above]
  • 21. [See ver. 5 above]
  • 22. [Ezekiel 31:3]
  • 23. [Psalms 37:35]
  • 24. Ezekiel 31:7
  • 25. Ezekiel 31:6
  • 26. Ezekiel 31:6
  • 27. [See ver. 5 above]
  • 28. ver. 23
  • 29. [Deuteronomy 33:2; Zechariah 14:5; Jude 14]
  • 30. See Daniel 3:4
  • 31. ver. 23; [Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9]
  • 32. [Ezekiel 31:12]
  • 33. [Ezekiel 31:12]
  • 34. [Ezekiel 31:12]
  • 35. [ver. 23, 25]
  • 36. [1 Chronicles 29:30]
  • 37. [See ver. 13 above]
  • 38. [See ver. 13 above]
  • 39. ver. 25, 32; Daniel 5:21
  • 40. Jeremiah 27:5
  • 41. See 1 Samuel 2:8
  • 42. See Daniel 1:7
  • 43. [ver. 7; Daniel 5:8, 15; Genesis 41:8]
  • 44. See ver. 8
  • 45. [See ver. 18 above]
  • 46. Daniel 3:24
  • 47. Daniel 5:6
  • 48. [1 Samuel 25:26; 2 Samuel 18:32]
  • 49. [1 Samuel 25:26; 2 Samuel 18:32]
  • 50. [ver. 10, 11]
  • 51. [ver. 12]
  • 52. [Ezekiel 31:3]
  • 53. See Jeremiah 27:6-8
  • 54. See Jeremiah 27:6-8
  • 55. ver. 13
  • 56. ver. 14, 15
  • 57. ver. 16
  • 58. ver. 32, 33; [Daniel 5:21]
  • 59. [Psalms 106:20]
  • 60. [See ver. 23 above]
  • 61. ver. 17, 32
  • 62. ver. 15, 23
  • 63. Matthew 6:1
  • 64. Proverbs 16:6; [Matthew 25:35, 36; Luke 11:41]
  • 65. [Jeremiah 18:8; Jonah 3:10; Acts 8:22; 2 Timothy 2:25]
  • 66. [Daniel 5:20]
  • 67. [ver. 36; Daniel 2:37]
  • 68. [ver. 36; Daniel 2:37]
  • 69. [Daniel 5:5; Luke 12:20]
  • 70. ver. 17, 25; Daniel 5:21
  • 71. ver. 17, 25; Daniel 5:21
  • 72. [See ver. 32 above]
  • 73. [ver. 26]
  • 74. ver. 36
  • 75. Daniel 6:26; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 4:10
  • 76. [Psalms 10:16]; See Daniel 2:44
  • 77. [Psalms 10:16]; See Daniel 2:44
  • 78. Isaiah 40:17
  • 79. [Psalms 115:3; Hebrews 1:13, 14]
  • 80. [Isaiah 14:27]
  • 81. Job 9:12; [Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20]
  • 82. ver. 34
  • 83. [ver. 30; Daniel 5:18]
  • 84. [ver. 30; Daniel 5:18]
  • 85. Daniel 3:24; Daniel 6:7
  • 86. Daniel 5:1; Daniel 6:17
  • 87. [Job 42:12; Matthew 6:33]
  • 88. ver. 34
  • 89. [Daniel 5:23]
  • 90. [Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 33:4; Revelation 15:3]
  • 91. [Daniel 5:20; Proverbs 20:23]

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Ch 3:31 in Aramaic
  • [b]. Ch 4:1 in Aramaic
  • [c]. Or Spirit of the holy God; also verses 9, 18

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