Bible Commentaries
Daniel 4

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-37

CHAPTER 4 The Tree Vision of Nebuchadnezzar

1. The king’s proclamation (Daniel 4:1-3 )

2. The king relates the tree vision (Daniel 4:4-18 )

3. Daniel interprets the vision (Daniel 4:19-27 )

4. The tree vision fulfilled, the king’s abasement and his restoration, (Daniel 4:28-37 )

Daniel 4:1-3 . This chapter is in form, at least in part, of a proclamation. This proclamation must have been written after the king had passed through the experience recorded in this chapter.

Daniel 4:4-18 . Read carefully the vision the king had and compare with Ezekiel 31:3 and Matthew 13:1-58 , the parable of the mustard seed. In each case the great big tree is the symbol of pride and self-exaltation.

Daniel 4:19-27 . The prophet’s interpretation of this dream needs no further comment. A careful reading will make it clear in its meaning.

Daniel 4:28-37 . Twelve months later he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. Then with a haughty mien he utters the fatal words: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power and for the honor of my majesty.” Notice the personal pronoun. But while he yet uttered these words a heavenly voice was heard which announced that the kingdom is departed from him. What Daniel had said in his interpretation is repeated from heaven. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar and he was driven from men and did eat grass as the 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. And after the seven times had passed over him his understanding returned unto him and he blessed the Most High.

The great characteristic here is pride and self exaltation. As judgment came upon the great monarch in the beginning of the times of the Gentiles, so judgment will yet fall upon this proud and self exalting age of the Gentiles. That great big, political and religious tree will some day be hewn down and be destroyed.

And Nebuchadnezzar’s great humiliation in becoming a beast for seven times (seven years), points us to the end of this Gentile age once more. (The attempt to ascertain from this “seven times” the length of the times of the Gentiles as some do lacks the support of Scripture. The seven times mean seven years.) Apostasy from God will be the great characteristic of that end. There will be no more looking up to God, but the attitude of the beast will be the attitude of the nations. We see much of this already. They mind earthly things and become the “earth dwellers” so frequently mentioned in the book of Revelation. Madness and bestiality will seize upon the Gentiles, after the One who hinders, the Holy Spirit is removed. Then proud and apostate Christendom will believe the lie and follow the beast with its lying wonders. This will last seven times, that is, seven years.

The stump of the great tree which remains in the field suggests the fact that the judgments which fall upon the nations in the time of the end will not completely destroy all nations. Many of them will be swept away. For those who wilfully rejected the gospel and turned away from the truth, there is no hope. But there are others which will be left and when these judgments are in the earth, the nations learn righteousness.

The millennium is also seen in this chapter in the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar and in the praise He gives to the Most High. In the previous chapter the three friends of Daniel speak of “our God,” but in this chapter we hear of “the Most High.” It is the millennial name of God. We see then in the fourth chapter the pride and self exaltation of the Gentiles, and how the Gentiles will be humiliated and judged. First there is self exaltation, that is followed by judgment, and then follows restoration and the acknowledgement of the Most High.

That nothing more is now reported of Nebuchadnezzar, that the last which we hear of him in Scripture is his acknowledgment of the Most High, is also not without meaning. It foreshadows the universal acknowledgment of God in the kingdom which the God of heaven will set up, when the stone fills as the mountain the whole earth.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Daniel 4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.