Online Bible Commentary
The Easy Path to God
Daniel 4:24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: 25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. 26 And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity." 28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" 31 While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses." 33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws. 34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?" 36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down. (NKJV)
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has summoned Daniel to interpret a second dream that is troubling his soul. The first dream that Daniel interpreted occurred shortly after Daniel’s exile from Judah some 28 years earlier. The king has a head belief, a knowledge of the power and eternal qualities of Daniel’s God, but does not have a heart belief, an acceptance of God as the Lord of his life. He is still clinging to his polytheistic beliefs, and still worships idols.
Daniel previously began explaining the dream to the king, and now, in this passage, he provides his interpretation of the dream (v. 24a). Daniel begins by introducing the dream as a decree from God upon the king (v. 24b). Angels will drive the king from his kingdom and have him live as cattle, “oxen”, in the pastures for seven years, until such time that the king accepts God’s rule over his life (v. 25). This is a description of a rare mental illness called “boanthropy”, in which people believe that they are actually cattle.
Once the king understands that “Heaven rules”, that God rules, he will be restored to his throne by God (v. 26). This is the only time in the Old Testament that the word “Heaven” is used to refer to God.
Daniel then calls upon the king to repent of his sins, and, “perhaps”, God will extend his “prosperity” (v. 27). God then waited patiently for one year, to allow the king time to repent (vv. 28-29). However, Instead of repenting, the king remained prideful, boasting that his wealth and power was all of his own doing (v. 30).
Immediately, “a voice fell from heaven” proclaiming to the king “the kingdom has departed from you!” (v. 31). The king was told that he would now be thrust out of his kingdom and made to live like cattle for seven years, when he would finally repent and accept God’s rule over his life (v. 32). Then, “that very hour”, God caused the king’s seven years of mental illness, until “his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws” (v. 33).
Then, at the end of the seven years, the king “lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion” (v. 34a). The king blessed, praised, and honored God (v. 34b). He accepted God’s rule over Heaven and earth and did not question Him, and his kingdom was restored to him (vv. 35-36).
The king accepted God by declaring “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (v. 37).
The spiritual journey of King Nebuchadnezzar is much like the spiritual journey of many of us. He was full of pride and did not accept God’s rule over his life. God was patient with him, but finally loved him so much that he broke him. The king hit rock bottom, and then reached out to God. And God, in his mercy, then restored the king. The king’s conversion seemed to be legitimate. Some commentaries, however, question this conclusion.
No matter what, the fact remains that God is in the business of saving us from ourselves. Because of His great love for us, He will do anything to bring us to our knees, so that we will come to Him. Some of us, mostly men it seems, need to be broken. Others, like Daniel, take the easy route and come to God before His patience runs out. We never know when that time will come. My prayer is that there will be more people who take the easy path to God.