Online Bible Commentary
Only God Can Change Hearts
Daniel 4:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 2 I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. 3 How great are His signs, And how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation. 4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6 Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7 Then the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream; but they did not make known to me its interpretation. 8 But at last Daniel came before me (his name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying: 9 "Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation. 10 "These were the visions of my head while on my bed: "I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, And its height was great. 11 The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth. 12 Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, And all flesh was fed from it. (NKJV)
Daniel and most of the noblemen of Judah were exiled to Babylon during the siege of 605 B. C. There is thought to be a period of about 10 years between chapters two and three and another 18 years between chapters three and four in the Book of Daniel.
In chapter two, about 602 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had elevated Daniel to ruler over Babylon because Daniel told the king of his dream and it’s interpretation, which had been revealed to Daniel in a vision from God. The time is now some 28 years later, about 574 B.C., and the king has now had another dream for which he seeks an interpretation.
In this passage, Nebuchadnezzar begins with high praise for Daniel’s God. He praises the “signs and wonders” that God has worked for him (vv. 2-3a). He praises the sovereignty of God and the eternalness of His kingdom (v. 3b).
The king then cites a dream and visions he has experienced while resting in his palace. The dream made him afraid and the visions troubled him (vv. 4-5). He summoned his wise men to interpret the dream for him, but they were unable to do so (vv. 6-7).
Then Daniel “came before” him (v. 8a). The king refers to Daniel by his Babylonian name, “Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god” (v. 8b). So, after praising the God of the Bible, the king now refers to a Babylonian idol as “my god”. He recognizes the great power and sovereignty of the God of the Bible, but he clings to his polytheistic beliefs.
The king shows that Daniel has witnessed to him over the years when he acknowledges that the Holy Spirit lives in Daniel (v. 8c). The king addresses Daniel as “chief of the magicians”, because the Holy Spirit lives in him and reveals all secrets to him (v. 9a). He then asks Daniel to interpret his dream and visions (v. 9b).
The visions were of a “tree in the midst of the earth”, of great height (v. 10). “The tree grew and became strong”, reaching to the heavens where it could be seen from anywhere on earth (v. 11). “Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, And all flesh was fed from it” (v. 12). Daniel will explain the dream and visions in my next commentary.
Daniel has obviously witnessed to the king over the past 28 years. Additionally, the king has been blessed by the miracles of God. However, the king, for whatever reason, is still not convinced. He still believes in the religion of his forefathers, the worship of many idols. Old habits die hard.
The same can be said of those to whom we witness. It takes time, hopefully not 28 years, but time. We must continue to plant seeds. We must wait for the harvest. The harvest comes in God’s time, not our time.
Our job is to be a Christian example, to practice lifestyle evangelism. That will get us in the door. Then, in God’s timing, the opportunity will present itself to share the gospel. Everything is to be bathed in prayer. Even then, it may not be enough. But we have done our part. We have sowed the seeds. Only God can change hearts.