Bible Commentaries
Daniel 4

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3



Verses 1-3:

Verse 1 begins a proclamation that king Nebuchadnezzar made and addressed to all people, nations, and languages who resided in all parts of the earth. Daniel had told him that he was the mightiest of the mighty, made so, raised up by the Lord, Daniel 2:37-38. In this position, as the first universal Gentile ruler, in whom "the times of the Gentiles" began, may be recognized the manner in which it shall end, with the coming and cunning deception of the Anti-christ or the "man of sin," Daniel 9:26-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10; Revelation ch. 13. Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed "peace be multiplied to you," or "Shalom" to you. It was a false promise of peace, even as that of the anti-christ shall be, so unlike the peace that angels heralded at the coming of our Lord, Luke 2:13-14; Genesis 49:10.

Verse 2 states that Nebuchadnezzar thought it proper that he should relate and acknowledge the signs and wonders or miraculous things that the most high God (the living Jehovah God) had done toward him, to help him, Psalms 107:2-8; Daniel 3:4. His dream fears had been removed!

Verse 3 recounts an exclamatory expression of the greatness of the signs and wonders of the living God in recalling and interpreting his dream and resolving fears that came to him when the monstrous image appeared, then went from him in the dream, Daniel 3:26; Acts 22:3-16; Daniel 6:27. This living God, he proclaimed had an everlasting kingdom and dominion, generation after generation, 2 Samuel 7:16; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13-14; Psalms 89:35-37; Luke 1:31-33.

Verses 4-18


Verses 4, 5 relate that while king Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in his own residence and flourishing, at the height of prosperity, in his palace, he had another dream; He was resting from many battles. Peace and prosperity had come to him, Job 15:32; Jeremiah 17:8; See v. 10. In this state another dream came to shock him with trembling fear. The flashing thoughts of the vision upon his bed troubled his head, gave him a splitting headache, caused him to "come unglued," as that in Daniel 2:1; Daniel 2:28.

Verse 6 asserts that as a result of this upsetting dream he made another decree, to call in all the wise men of Babylon before him, that he might relate this dream, which he remembered, But he wanted an interpretation from them of the meaning or import of the dream, as in Daniel 2:1-2. Strange that he did not call Daniel; But the Chaldean wise men were their national confidants, their magi for such. God reserved His servant Daniel for the worst to magnify Himself through him, Galatians 6:9.

Verse 7 relates that the Chaldean magicians, astrologers, and soothsayers came from far and near and appeared before Nebuchadnezzar. He related the dream to them in detail; But they could not give him the interpretation of it. They could not recall 1) the one that had formerly "went from him," Or 2) interpret the one he could recall. Their gods were too dumb, see? Daniel 2:5; Psalms 115:4-9.

Verse 8 relates that at the conclusion and failure of all Nebuchadnezzar’s efforts to find an interpretation from his heathen magi, of every god and cult, he turned to Daniel to whom he had given the name Belteshazzar, Daniel 1:7, in honor of his personal god Bel. Then he asserted that in him (Daniel) was the spirit (dynamic power) of the holy gods, all combined as he viewed it from an heathen king’s view, Psalms 25:14; Isaiah 63:11; Daniel 2:11; Daniel 5:11; Daniel 5:14. Then he told the dream that he had related to his magi, which they could not interpret, to Daniel.

Verse 9 is a direct address of Nebuchadnezzar to Belteshazzar. He addressed Daniel as "master of the magicians," because he said, "I know that the spirit of the holy gods (the sum of them) is in thee," in your power. He knew on the basis of Daniel’s former help to him, Daniel 2:48; Daniel 5:11. Then he proceeded to express his faith that no secret troubled Daniel. On the basis of this testimony of his faith in Daniel he asked him to tell him the visions of his dream and the interpretation of them, which he believed Daniel could do without difficulty. Only the true God is holy; False gods and prophets did not even consider one another holy, Deuteronomy 32:31; Isaiah 63:11.

Verse 10 recounts the vision Nebuchadnezzar saw, as he lay by night upon his bed; He beheld first a great tree, of great height, in the midst of the earth, as a symbol of a great king, which he was, v. 22; Ezekiel 31:1-14 describes an Assyrian leader as a great "cedar in Lebanon."

Verses 11, 12 state that the tree grew, was strong, and its height reached unto, toward heaven; the leaves of it were fair, of good color; and the fruit of it was abundant for meat or food. His food was temporary, not like that Jesus gives, John 6:51; John 6:58; Matthew 13:32. The beasts of the field came to rest in its shade, and the fowls of the air roosted or lighted on its limbs; and all flesh of man, beasts, and fowl fed of this mighty tree-ruler of earth’s center, Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 3:6; Lamentations 4:20.

Verse 13 continues that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his visions upon his bed, as he then recalled, a watcher, even an holy watcher descended from heaven, with a mission message, v. 17, 23. See also Joel 1:14; Zechariah 8:3. Angels do come down from heaven, as watchful ministers to do God’s will among men, in blessing the righteous and judging or smiting the wicked, at the bidding of the Lord still, Psalms 103:20-21; Psalms 34:7; Hebrews 1:14; Jeremiah 4:16-17; See also Genesis 28:15; Genesis 32:1-2; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 32:19.

Verse 14 reports that the holy, heaven sent watchman, cried out loud, in a thunderous judgment tone to "hew down the tree, cut off the limbs, shake off the leaves, and scatter the fruit; let the beasts be driven away from under the shadow area about it and the fowls from off its limbs or branches," The implication is one of warning before judgment, a principle of Divine justice in judgment, Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:9; Luke 13:6-10; for such calls of judgment consider Revelation 14:15; Revelation 14:18; Ezekiel 31:12.

Verse 15 adds however that the stump or trunk of the tree is to be left intact, even supported by a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field. It was to be wet with the dew of heaven; And his portion of food or livelihood was to be "with the beasts in the grass of the earth." This stump or trunk alludes to Nebuchadnezzar’s remaining king over the great golden empire; But he was to become a maniac, a lunatic, under Divine judgment, a deranged king who would eat grass like a dumb animal, v. 24, 25; Isaiah 11:1; Job 14:7-9; Daniel 5:18-24.

Verse 16 continues the judgment words of the heaven-sent watchman as he announced that his heart (affection) would be changed from that of a man to that of a beast that would be given to him, until "seven times" had passed over him, or complete waves of judgment had fallen on him, in recurring seizures of periodic, insanity, Daniel 12:7; See also Daniel 5:21.

Verse 17 announces that this decree is of the "watchers" and the mandate is by the word of the holy ones, ministering servants of God, Hebrews 1:14. The decree was "to the intent," in order that, the living (all men) might know, recognize, or comprehend that the most high (Jehovah God) continually rules in the kingdom of men, Psalms 9:16; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 4:25; Daniel 4:32; Daniel 5:21. And He gives it to whoever He wills, even setting up over it the basest of men, to receive glory in them, Daniel 5:18-22; Romans 8:28; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; 1 Samuel 2:8; Luke 1:52.

Verse 18 concludes the testimony of Nebuchadnezzar as he related it to Daniel. He then addressed Daniel, by his magi name Belteshazzar, asking that he interpret this dream for him, a thing he affirmed all the Chaldean wise men were unable to do. He added in essence, you can do it Daniel, because "the spirit of the holy gods is (exists) in you." He had acknowledged this before, but not accepted Daniel’s God as his own god. Like Pilate he tried to "play two sides of the fence," Genesis 41:8; Genesis 41:15; Isaiah 19:3; Isaiah 47; Isaiah 12-14; Daniel 2:7; Daniel 5:8; Daniel 5:15; Matthew 27:15-25; Luke 23:4; Luke 23:14-15; Luke 23:21. He compromised his convictions, resisting the spirit until He may have wound up in hell, Proverbs 29:1.

Verses 19-27


Verses 19-27:

Verse 19 describes a period of one hour or a moment of astonishment and troubled thoughts that came over Daniel whose Chaldean name was Belteshazzar. Nebuchadnezzar noticed Daniel’s shocked response of awe to the vision he had related to him. He then directed Daniel not to permit either the content of the dream or its interpretation to disturb him, but to tell its meaning like it should be told. To this Daniel respectfully responded, "my lord," or master, the dream is toward those who hate you and the interpretation applies to your enemies, 2 Samuel 18:32; Jeremiah 29:7. Many despots would have killed any who prophesied woe against them or any of their subject states, but Nebuchadnezzar assured Daniel that of such he need not fear.

Verses 20, 21 certify the tree of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision as a great one whose height reached to heaven, strong, viewed by all the earth with leaves that were fair, fruit that was edible for much food, and limbs and branches in which fowls lodged (roosted) and beasts of the field lay for rest, v. 10-12.

Verse 22 further relates that Daniel then directly certified to Nebuchadnezzar that he was the stump of that great tree, whose strength and height had reached in dominion or jurisdiction overall the earth, even as he had been described in the gold head of the monstrous image he had seen and he had interpreted by Daniel in the former vision, Daniel 2:37-38. Without compromise, evasion, or equivocation, much as Nathan confronted David, saying "thou art the man," 2 Samuel 12:7; Daniel spoke plainly to Nebuchadnezzar. See also Job 20:5; Jeremiah 27:6-8; Matthew 14:4.

Verse 23 is a restatement by Daniel of what Nebuchadnezzar saw in the dream. He saw a "watcher," and "holy one," an angelic minister of Divine judgment descend from heaven to cut down the strong tree that had grown to reach into the heaven, to be beheld by all the earth. This Divine messenger cut out the top, hewed off the limbs, destroying shade, branch support, and fruit or food for men, beasts, and fowl; but he left the stump or trunk of the tree with a band of iron and brass around it in the midst of the field of tender grass and dew, void of help for man, fowl, and beasts, to stand alone, under Divine judgment, to exist with the beasts of the field, as they existed for a time, v. 14, 15; Daniel 5:21.

Verses 24, 25 give Daniel’s further interpretation of the vision of the mighty tree; The interpretation gave the decree of the most High (Jehovah) God that was to come upon the king, Nebuchadnezzar, the stump-tree of the vision, v. 17; Job 34:19; Job 40:11-12; Psalms 107:40; Isaiah 46:10-11. Deranged demon seizures were to come upon him, causing him to act like a beast of the field, and to be isolated, quarantined outside of the palace city, to live as an outcast, eat dew covered grass or herbs of the field, on all fours like an animal, in times of these recurring dementia seizures, until in a moment of sanity he arose to honor the living God. He was to recognize and acknowledge that the most High (Jehovah) God set up and put down kings and kingdoms, Psalms 106:20; Psalms 9:16; Psalms 83:18; Jeremiah 27:5; Twas like the Gadara demonaic, Luke 8:26-39.

Verse 26 assures Nebuchadnezzar that as the stump of the tree was left bound or restricted with iron and bands, so he should be with insanity, but would be loosed from it when he came to acknowledge the true reign of heaven’s God and the angels of God over all, Matthew 21:25; Luke 15:18; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:14.

Verse 27 concludes Daniel’s interpretation of the tree vision of Nebuchadnezzar with an appeal that his counsel be accepted by Nebuchadnezzar in a right spirit of repentance. He called on this great, monstrous, gold head of the image and stump of the great tree to break off his sins of idolatry and rebellion against the most High God and turn to do righteously, and his lawless deeds and oppression of men by showing mercy to the poor, Isaiah 55:7; Isaiah 58:7; Ezekiel 18:7; 1 Peter 4:8; Romans 2:9-11. To turn to the Lord Daniel assured him, might be a means of lengthening the days of his tranquility on earth, Psalms 41:1; Acts 8:22. Sin is a galling yoke, a burden for a sinner to bear; He need not bear it, if he will but turn to the Lord. Such as Daniel’s plea to this heathen Gentile one world ruler, Genesis 27:40; Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 11:41. Hezekiah turned, his days were lengthened, Isaiah 38:1-5; Nineveh repented and the city was spared, Jonah 3:5-10; Jeremiah 18:7-8.

Verses 28-37


Verses 28-37:

Verses 28, 29 certify that all this judgment that was prophesied by Daniel came upon king Nebuchadnezzar with sudden seizure calamity, as he walked in his palace or on his palace roof of the kingdom of Babylon, at the end of twelve months. It was ample time for him to repent, after ample warning, so that he was "without excuse," Proverbs 1:20-30; Proverbs 29:1; Hebrews 4:7. Warning always comes before judgment from God, Genesis 6:3; 1 Kings 21:27; Ecclesiastes 8:11; 2 Samuel 11:2; Romans 2:1.

Verse 30 states that after twelve months, as the king walked softly on the roof of his palace, in resplendent glory, his heart was lifted up and he glorified himself with pride, saying, "Is not this great Babylon the fruit of my might, power, and doing?" v. 37 later reflects his repentance for this self-glory, but only after a terrible fall of extended humiliating mental derangement that struck him down. He experienced that "Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall," Proverbs 16:18.

Verse 31 relates that while those bragging words were in his mouth there fell a voice from heaven that said, "O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken, the kingdom is departed or severed from you," from his direct rule, 1 Thessalonians 5:3; Luke 12:19-20. How much this was like the rich barn builder, who while bragging of what he would do with his fields, his grain, and his storehouses was told that that night his soul would be required of him, Hebrews 9:26-27; See also Daniel 5:5; Acts 12:21-23.

Verse 32 indicates that demon spirits of Lucifer’s realm would take, or cause king Nebuchadnezzar to be taken (violently) from dwelling or residing among men, and drive him into the open fields to live among beasts of the field, eating grass and herbs like an ox, becoming wet from the dew until seven times, or a full measure of judgment should strike him down; Until in a sane moment he would recognize and acknowledge in truth that the most High God did rule in the governments of men, giving rulership as it pleased Him, to whomever He pleased, as recounted Daniel 5:18-23.

Verse 33 verifies that at that very hour, suddenly, the demoniac depression of dementia seized him. He was, like the demon man of Gadara, Luke 8:26-39 taken from normal society, isolated or quarantined, according to the customs of the times, to stay in the open fields where domesticated beasts were herded. There he ate grass like an oxen, fancying himself that he was a beast; His hair grew long like eagle’s feathers, matted in an unkempt manner on his body, and his finger and toe nails grew to long length to curl like eagle’s claws, until seven time or full judgments had come to him. God has used wicked angels to send judgment upon the obstinately rebellious, in every age since the fall of Satan and men, Job 20:5; Psalms 37:35-36; Isaiah 30:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:2.

Verse 34 recounts Nebuchadnezzar’s own testimony that at the end of the days of insanity "he lifted up his eyes to heaven," whereas he had them glued in self-glory on earthly things when God sent the full swoop of judgment upon him. When he looked up to heaven, the first evidence of his restored sanity, he began to praise God for just judgment that had struck him down in pride, Psalms 116:12; Psalms 116:14; Proverbs 16:18; Romans 14:11-12. He then, with restored sanity, blessed or praised the Lord and honored Him who lives forever, whose dominion is an everlasting one; and His kingdom is (exists) from "generation to generation," Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:14; Psalms 10:16; Micah 4:7; Luke 1:33.

Verse 35 is a testimony of Nebuchadnezzar’s that the most High or the living God reputes all the inhabitants of the earth as nothing, no problem for Him to deal with, in their rebellion, Psalms 39:5. For he had learned the hard way. This God does according to his own will, in directing the army of heaven’s rulers, as well as among the inhabitants of the earth, Nebuchadnezzar here affirmed. He added that no one was able (sufficiently powerful or dynamic) to stay or stop his hand or successfully ask Him what He does! Isaiah 40:15; Isaiah 40:17; Psalms 115:3; Psalms 135:6; Job 9:12.

Verse 36 recounts King Nebuchadnezzar’s own testimony of praise to the Lord in certifying that, as He praised God, his reason or sanity fully returned to him. With this he was restored to the glory and honor and brightness of his kingdom. Then his cabinet of counselors and lords restored positions to serve with and under him as king. After this manner or order his excelling majesty was again added to the full of his life. His majesty, like that of Job’s, was greater than ever before; For everyone who humbles himself (before God) shall be exalted, Job 42:12; Proverbs 22:4; Matthew 6:33; Luke 18:14. It appears that Nebuchadnezzar was now saved, Romans 10:13.

Verse 37 concludes Nebuchadnezzar’s words of praising, honoring, and extoling the king of heaven. He witnesses, heaping words upon words of praise to the mighty God whose works are in harmony with truth and ways are those of fair, just judgment, Psalms 33:4. He too warned as one of recent experience, that those who walk in pride He is able to abase or bring very low, Daniel 5:20; Exodus 18:11. Such was a mark or evidence of true contrition, Psalms 51:4.

Note three steps in Nebuchadnezzar’s recognition of God:
1) First, as a God of gods, one among many nations gods, and Lord of master of kings, and revealer of secrets, Daniel 2:47;
2) Second, He is an Hebrew deity, master of angels, who responds to ones faith, Daniel 3:28; Daniel,
3) Third, He rises to recognize Him as a personal God whom he has offended and from whom he sought and found forgiveness and praise, Daniel 4:34-35; Psalms 145:18-19; Romans 10:13.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Daniel 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.