Verses 1–17: The King’s Dream
Nebuchadnezzar had many golden moments to personally know the true God. There were those episodes of divine intervention like his nightmare in chapter two and the deliverance of the three Hebrew youth in chapter three. Then there were those weekly, if not daily communications with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We have seen, that the king at times acknowledged the God of Daniel as a God of gods. However, in this chapter, we find that he slips back into complete idolatry. He took the credit for all the glories of Babylon and bathed in his own self-glorification.
Because God cares, He intervened and gave the king another disturbing dream. However, this time God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to remember every detail vividly. The king first called all the wise men of Babylon. What was the result? These wise men of Babylon, again showed the futility of Babylonian wisdom and religion. They could not interpret the dream. Daniel became God’s man of the hour again.
In this dream the king saw a great tree in the midst of the earth. Its location in the midst of the earth represented its importance. And the size of the tree represented its great power. The fruitfulness of the tree showed the glorious opportunities for this tree to bless the people.
But then the king heard the frightful words, “Hew down the tree!” This tree represented the king of Babylon who had tremendous opportunities to bless his people, but instead his self-indulgence robbed God and the people.
Verses 18–33: Daniel Interprets the King’s Dream
On a daily basis, Daniel prayed for the king and his salvation. Because he realized that the dream was a rebuke to the pride and selfishness of the king, it was difficult for Daniel to tell the king the meaning of the dream.
Daniel knew that the king would lose his throne for a time. Yet the stump with bands of iron and brass provided hope that the king’s throne would be preserved for him to reign once more.
Lovingly Daniel appealed to the king’s heart to repent of any wrongdoing. Touched by the presence of the Holy Spirit and the sincere love of Daniel, the king made an effort to reform his ways. But without firm resolution and daily surrender of his will to God, the king gave way to his pride and self-glorification one year later.
Then one evening as he walked among those beautiful hanging gardens, he said to himself, “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?” (verse30).
While those boastful words were yet upon his lips, the word came from heaven, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from thee” (verse 31). For the next seven years, according to the dream, the king walked and ate on all fours.
Verses 34–37: The Conversion of Nebuchadnezzar
Seven years later, the king’s mental faculties were restored. He realized his own folly. He acknowledged the supremacy of the God of heaven. And now, after forty years of witnessing, Daniel beheld the king accepting the Lord as his personal Savior.
Forgetfulness and pride characterized the fall of Nebuchadnezzar. So many times, the Lord tried to reach the heart of this proud monarch. For a time, Nebuchadnezzar’s heart was touched. But failing to allow any faith to take root and grow, he fell back into his idolatrous ways.
Have there been times in your own life where God was trying to reach you, but you soon turned a deaf ear to His calling and entreaties? If so, what sort of things would have caused you to stumble back into your old ways?
Have you ever witnessed a brother or sister in the Lord reverting back to their old ways? What wisdom could you share with them, or what deeds could you perform, that might aid in their returning to the Lord with their whole heart?
What things could you do or say that would keep them from returning to the Lord?
In the end, Nebuchadnezzar surrendered his life to the Lord. It took some 40 years. What does this teach us about the longsuffering and patience of God?
Forgetting the goodness of God has already been the spiritual demise of millions. The distractions of the world and the strong longings of the carnal heart, have caused many to spurn the Holy Spirit working upon their heart.
What things can we do to remember the goodness of God? How may we not forget?