This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now you, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof…
I. THE SYMBOL.
1. A tree (v. 10). An image common in both Old and New Testament. The image of prosperity; and that both of the righteous, as in Psalm 1:3, and of the wicked, as in Psalm 37:36 (Prayer Book ver.). In this latter passage note the verbal coincidence between it and Daniel 4:4.
2. A tree growing to an immense size (v. 11-13). Like that in Matthew 13:32; Ezekiel 17:22-24; Ezekiel 31:3-9. Significant of wide dominion.
3. A tree condemned by a decree from Heaven (v. 13, 14), reminding us of the Baptist's words (Matthew 3:10), and of our Lord's (Luke 13:7; Matthew 21:19).
4. A tree spared (v. 15-17); though to be cut down to its stump, it was not to be entirely destroyed, but left to shoot forth and grow again.
II. THE INTERPRETATION.
1. The Chaldean magi could not explain its meaning (v. 6, 7).
2. Daniel, being called, felt it to be so terrible that he hesitated to reveal it (v. 18, 19). Like Samuel with Eli (1 Samuel 3:15).
3. He broke the dread news gently. Led the king's mind to review his vast power and majesty (v. 20-22). Pointed out his forgetfulness of God in the midst of his earthly splendour (v. 25). Announced the judgment that God had decreed against him to bring down his pride (v. 24).
4. He then became a "preacher of righteousness," in exhorting the king to repentance and amendment, if perchance the chastisement might be averted (v. 27).
III. THE FULFILMENT.
1. The king is not ashamed to acknowledge the supremacy of the King of kings, whose royal Heavenly decree was accomplished even upon the mighty monarch of the world (v. 28).
2. But not till a day of grace had been mercifully given. Twelve months passed by, and Nebuchadnezzar was still revelling in his pride and self-exaltation (v. 29, 30).
3. The terrible judgment then fell suddenly upon him (v. 31-33). He became mad, and like a brute beast, for a period denoted by the mystic expression "seven times," which probably means the time of the perfecting of God's purpose concerning him.
4. At the end of this time he was restored to reason and to royal dominion. The lesson had been learnt. He gave God glory, and acknowledged Him as King (v.34-37). Conclusion. From this page of Old Testament history let us learn:
1. How the effect made upon us by religious impressions wears off in course of time. God has to repeat His revelations and providential dealings.
2. How many ways God has of warning us.
3. How long a time God gives sinners in which to come to repentance.
4. How pure is the fulfilment of His word.
(T. H. Barnett.)
Parallel VersesKJV: This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.
WEB: This dream I, king Nebuchadnezzar, have seen; and you, Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.