Introduction: Do you like to avoid being embarrassed? I do! Being
publically shamed is one of the worst things for most people. It
hurts even more if you have a very high status in your community. The
Bible warns in Proverbs 16:18 that “Pride goes before destruction, a
haughty spirit before a fall.” Our study this week is a warning to
us. Let’s jump into our study and learn more!
- Good News
- Read Daniel 4:1-3. Who is writing this part of the book of
Daniel? (King Nebuchadnezzar!)
- Would you guess that he would become a Bible writer?
- What do you think this is? (It is a proclamation by
the King to all of his subjects in every land.)
- What would you say if the most famous and powerful
person on the earth wrote this about God? That would
be a great tool for evangelism, right?
- Worrisome News
- Read Daniel 4:4-5. How was life for Nebuchadnezzar before
he had the dream? How was it after he had the dream?
- Nebuchadnezzar’s prior dream ( Daniel 2:1) “troubled”
him, but this one “terrified” him. Have you ever had
a dream that terrified you?
- Why do you think it would terrify him? (He
thought it might be warning him about something
awful that would happen in his future.)
- Read Daniel 4:6-7. You remember that this same group of
wise men could not interpret the king’s first dream
( Daniel 2:10-12). Why does Nebuchadnezzar bring a dream to
this same group a second time? Why not go first to Daniel?
(There are several possibilities. First, that the pagan
wise men had again come into favor with the king. Second,
that Daniel’s job during the intervening years was
administrating rather than dream interpretation. Third,
Daniel was off on a trip.)
- Read Daniel 4:8-9. What does this suggest about the reason
Daniel was not consulted first? (The use of the word
“finally” suggests that it took Daniel a period of time
before he came to the king. This supports the idea that he
was off on a trip.)
- Why is this delay a positive thing? (It allows the
power of God to be shown after the others failed.)
- What do you think about the description in the
parenthetical about Daniel and his Babylonian name?
Would Daniel be proud or would he cringe? (Daniel
would not like this. First, Nebuchadnezzar identifies
Daniel with a Babylonian god, not the true God.
Second, Daniel is supposed to have the “spirit of the
holy gods” in him.)
- What is the “spirit of the holy gods?”
(Whatever it is supposed to be, this
description does not honor the One God of
Heaven. It appears that Nebuchadnezzar is
trying to attribute God’s power to some of his
- Can you find anything good in the reference to the
“spirit of the gods?” (At least Daniel’s point that
it is God, and not himself, who reveals dreams has
gotten through to the king. See Daniel 2:27-28.)
- Notice that Daniel is “chief” of the magicians and
Nebuchadnezzar expresses no doubt about his ability
to interpret the dream. What additional clue does
this give us about the reason for Daniel’s delay?
(This provides even more evidence that something like
a trip must have caused Daniel to be delayed. The
King seems to have a preference for Daniel.)
- Read Daniel 4:10-12. Given the fact that Nebuchadnezzar
turned the Daniel 2 dream into something that was all
about him, what would Nebuchadnezzar logically think was
represented by this tree? (I have little doubt that
Nebuchadnezzar thought it represented him.)
- Read Daniel 4:13-14. If you thought the tree represented
you, would you be terrified too?
- Read Daniel 4:15-16. What would you think it meant that
the stump and roots remained? What would you think the
“bound with iron and bronze” means? What would it mean to
still have a mind, but it be like that of an animal?
- Look again at Daniel 4:7. Do you have any additional
thoughts on why they could not interpret this dream?
(It seems obvious the dream is about a horrible
future for Nebuchadnezzar. If I were them I would
say, “Let’s leave this one to Daniel.”)
- Read Daniel 4:17-18. Notice that part of the dream states
that it has to do with ruling the “kingdoms on earth.”
Does Nebuchadnezzar have good reason to think he is
interfering with the idea that the God of Heaven is
sovereign? (Yes. Even now he refers to the “spirit of the
- Bad News
- Read Daniel 4:19. Why is Daniel terrified?
- Why is Nebuchadnezzar trying to calm Daniel?
- Does this sound like the same Nebuchadnezzar who has
an anger management problem? (Perhaps his terror has
calmed his anger.)
- Read Daniel 4:20-22. Is Nebuchadnezzar’s worst fear
- If God wants to humble Nebuchadnezzar, why does He
use a dream that starts out by reinforcing
- Read Daniel 4:24-26. Does this punishment have a specific
goal? (Yes, to pressure King Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge
- How can Nebuchadnezzar acknowledge God when he has a
brain like an animal? (He must have been capable of
this decision. Why it would take seven years is hard
- Is there another explanation for this – that
this time period is not in the hands of
Nebuchadnezzar, but rather in God’s hands?
Should we conclude that God believes it will
take seven years? Is that time period
- Read Daniel 4:27. Is Nebuchadnezzar being given a second
- Is this second chance something that God has decreed?
Or, is this just something that Daniel thinks is
consistent with God’s mercy?
- Let’s explore the reforms Daniel suggests. First, he
says “Renounce your sins by doing what is right.” Is
that still valid advice for us today? Do good works
- Second, he says, “Renounce … your wickedness by
being kind to the oppressed.” Who would likely be the
one oppressing people in the Babylon?
(Nebuchadnezzar. Some commentaries point out the
problem of people being dragged into public works
projects without pay.)
- Does Daniel bear some responsibility here
because he is a top administrator?
- Is this a warning to us about being kind to the
- Do we have any reason to believe that Daniel’s advice
has anything to do with God’s concern about
- Read Daniel 4:29-31. We just discussed Daniel’s advice to
the king. How does Nebuchadnezzar actually trigger the
punishment in the dream? (It seems to have nothing to do
with the reforms Daniel suggests. Recall that Daniel 4:26
pointed to a different problem, that Nebuchadnezzar needed
to “acknowledge that heaven rules.” Nebuchadnezzar is once
again claiming that he is in charge.)
- Read Daniel 4:32-33. Why do you think that Nebuchadnezzar
hears a voice from heaven? What is the stated goal of the
- Read Daniel 4:34. What has changed about Nebuchadnezzar’s
attitude? (This is further reason to wonder about Daniel’s
advice. Nebuchadnezzar does precisely what the punishment
was intended to do – acknowledge the great God of Heaven.)
- Read Daniel 4:36-37. What is the result of giving glory to
- Friend, examine your own life. Do you give the glory to
God or do you claim it for yourself? Why not, by the power
of the Holy Spirit, determine to give God the glory in
- Next week: From Arrogance to Destruction.