Daniel 4

The King Acknowledges God

1 Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: "May your 1peace abound!
2 "It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the 2Most High God has done for me.
3 "How great are His 3signs And how mighty are His wonders! His 4kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation.

The Vision of a Great Tree

4 "I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and 5flourishing in my palace.
5 "I saw a 6dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the 7visions in my mind kept alarming me.
6 "So I gave orders to 8bring into my presence all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.
7 "Then the 9magicians, the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners came in and I related the dream to them, but they could not make its 10interpretation known to me.
8 "But finally Daniel came in before me, whose name is 11Belteshazzar according to the name of my god, and in whom is 12a spirit of the holy gods; and I related the dream to him, saying,
9 'O Belteshazzar, 13chief of the magicians, since I know that 14a spirit of the holy gods is in you and 15no * mystery baffles you, 16tell me the visions of my dream which I have seen, along with its interpretation.
10 'Now these were the 17visions in my mind as I lay on my bed: I was looking, and behold, there was a 18tree in the midst of the earth and its height was great.
11 'The tree grew large and became strong And its height 19reached to the sky, And it was visible to the end of the whole earth.
12 'Its foliage was 20beautiful and its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The 21beasts of the field found 22shade under it, And the 23birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, And all living creatures fed themselves from it.
13 'I was looking in the 24visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, 25an angelic watcher, a 26holy one, descended from heaven.
14 'He shouted out and spoke as follows: "27Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit; Let the 28beasts flee from under it And the birds from its branches.
15 "Yet 29leave the stump with its roots in the ground, But with a band of iron and bronze around it In the new grass of the field; And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth.
16 "Let his mind be changed from that of a man And let a beast's mind be given to him, And let 30seven periods of time pass over him.
17 "This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order * that the living may 31know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And 32bestows it on whom * He wishes And sets over it the 33lowliest of men."
18 'This is the dream which I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, tell me its interpretation, inasmuch * * as none * of the 34wise men of my kingdom is able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for a 35spirit of the holy gods is in you.'

Daniel Interprets the Vision

19 "Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his 36thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, 'Belteshazzar, do not 37let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.' Belteshazzar replied, '38My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to 39your adversaries!
20 'The 40tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth
21 and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged -
22 it is 41you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your 42dominion to the end of the earth.
23 'In that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, "43Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until * 44seven periods of time pass over him,"
24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has 45come upon my lord the king:
25 that you be 46driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until * you recognize that the 47Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and 48bestows it on whomever * He wishes.
26 'And in that it was commanded to 49leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after * you recognize that it is 50Heaven that rules.
27 'Therefore, O king, may my 51advice be pleasing to you: 52break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by 53showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a 54prolonging of your prosperity.'

The Vision Fulfilled

28 "All this 55happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king.
29 "56Twelve * months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon.
30 "The king reflected and said, 'Is this not Babylon the 57great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?'
31 "While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you,
32 and 58you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and 59seven periods of time will pass over you until * you recognize that the 60Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever * He wishes.'
33 "Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was 61driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until * his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws.
34 "But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the 62Most High and praised and honored 63Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an 64everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 "65All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But 66He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And 67no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, '68What have You done?'
36 "At that time my 69reason returned to me. And my majesty and 70splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing 71greatness was added to me.
37 "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of 72heaven, for 73all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who 74walk in pride."

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. Ezra 4:17; Daniel 6:25
  • 2. Daniel 3:26; Daniel 4:17, 24, 25, 32, 34
  • 3. Psalms 77:19; Psalms 105:27; Isaiah 25:1; Daniel 6:27
  • 4. Daniel 2:44; Daniel 4:34; Daniel 6:26
  • 5. Psalms 30:6; Isaiah 47:7, 8
  • 6. Daniel 2:3
  • 7. Daniel 2:1, 28; Daniel 4:10, 13
  • 8. Genesis 41:8; Daniel 2:2
  • 9. Genesis 41:8; Daniel 2:10, 27; Daniel 5:7
  • 10. Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 27:9, 10; Daniel 2:7
  • 11. Daniel 1:7; Daniel 2:26; Daniel 5:12
  • 12. Daniel 4:9, 18; Daniel 5:11, 14
  • 13. Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:48; Daniel 5:11
  • 14. Genesis 41:38; Daniel 4:8
  • 15. Ezekiel 28:3; Daniel 2:47
  • 16. Genesis 41:15; Daniel 2:4, 5
  • 17. Daniel 4:5
  • 18. Ezekiel 31:3, 6
  • 19. Deuteronomy 9:1; Daniel 4:21, 22
  • 20. Ezekiel 31:7
  • 21. Jeremiah 27:6; Ezekiel 31:6
  • 22. Lamentations 4:20
  • 23. Ezekiel 17:23; Matthew 13:32; Luke 13:19
  • 24. Daniel 7:1
  • 25. Daniel 4:17, 23
  • 26. Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalms 89:7; Daniel 8:13
  • 27. Ezekiel 31:10-14; Daniel 4:23; Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:19; Luke 13:7-9
  • 28. Ezekiel 31:12, 13; Daniel 4:12
  • 29. Job 14:7-9
  • 30. Dan 4:23, 25, 32
  • 31. Psalms 9:16; Psalms 83:18; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 5:21
  • 32. Jeremiah 27:5-7; Daniel 4:25; Daniel 5:18, 19
  • 33. 1 Samuel 2:8; Daniel 11:21
  • 34. Genesis 41:8, 15; Daniel 4:7; Daniel 5:8, 15
  • 35. Daniel 4:8, 9
  • 36. Jeremiah 4:19; Daniel 7:15, 28; Daniel 8:27; Daniel 10:16, 17
  • 37. 1 Samuel 3:17; Daniel 4:4, 5
  • 38. 2 Samuel 18:31; Daniel 4:24; Daniel 10:16
  • 39. 2 Samuel 18:32
  • 40. Daniel 4:10-12
  • 41. 2 Samuel 12:7; Daniel 2:37, 38
  • 42. Jeremiah 27:6, 7
  • 43. Daniel 4:14, 15
  • 44. Daniel 4:16
  • 45. Job 40:11, 12; Psalms 107:40
  • 46. Daniel 4:33; Daniel 5:21
  • 47. Psalms 83:18; Jeremiah 27:5; Daniel 4:2, 17
  • 48. Daniel 2:37; Daniel 4:17; Daniel 5:21
  • 49. Daniel 4:15, 23
  • 50. Dan 2:18, 19, 28, 37, 44; Daniel 4:31
  • 51. Genesis 41:33-37
  • 52. Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:6, 7; Ezek 18:7, 21, 22; Acts 8:22
  • 53. Psalms 41:1-3; Is 58:6, 7, 10
  • 54. 1 Kings 21:29; Jonah 3:9
  • 55. Numbers 23:19; Zechariah 1:6
  • 56. 2 Peter 3:9
  • 57. Habakkuk 2:4
  • 58. Daniel 4:25
  • 59. Daniel 4:16
  • 60. Daniel 4:17
  • 61. Daniel 4:25; Daniel 5:21
  • 62. Daniel 4:2; Daniel 5:18, 21
  • 63. Psalms 102:24-27; Daniel 6:26; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 4:10
  • 64. Psalms 145:13; Jeremiah 10:10; Daniel 4:3; Micah 4:7; Luke 1:33
  • 65. Psalms 39:5; Isaiah 40:15, 17
  • 66. Psalms 33:11; Psalms 115:3; Psalms 135:6; Daniel 6:27
  • 67. Job 42:2; Isaiah 43:13
  • 68. Job 9:12; Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20
  • 69. 2 Chronicles 33:12, 13; Daniel 4:34
  • 70. Daniel 2:31
  • 71. Proverbs 22:4; Daniel 4:22
  • 72. Daniel 4:26; Daniel 5:23
  • 73. Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 33:4, 5; Isaiah 5:16
  • 74. Exodus 18:11; Job 40:11, 12; Daniel 5:20

Footnotes 40

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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