Introduction: When I was a boy I would watch the Walt Disney program
on Sunday evening. The program always began with the same musical
introduction. When I heard that little tune, I knew that I was about
to be entertained with a story of some sort. Our study this week in
Daniel 4 starts out in a similar way. We have this royal proclamation
by King Nebuchadnezzar which praises the true God of Heaven and says
“I’ve got a testimony – a story – for you.” Let’s dive right into
our study of this amazing story!

  1. Royal Proclamation

    1. Read Daniel 4:1-3. Most translations find the king wishing
      peace for his listeners. Do you want to have peace and
      prosperity in your life?

      1. Do you think that this is the way King Nebuchadnezzar
        began all of his proclamations?

      2. Or, do you think he intends to link acknowledging God
        with peace and prosperity? (We will see the answer to
        that more clearly when we hear the King’s story.)

    2. How large is the audience for this story? (Verse 1
      indicates this is addressed to the entire world.)

  2. The Dream

    1. Read Daniel 4:4-5. How was life for Nebuchadnezzar before
      he had the dream? How was it after he had the dream?

      1. Nebuchadnezzar’s prior dream ( Daniel 2:1 “troubled”
        him so that he “could not sleep.” But, this latest
        dream terrifies him. Have you ever had a dream that
        terrified you? If you were in the King’s place, would
        you prefer to just forget the dream?

    2. Read Daniel 4:6-7. You remember that this same group of
      wise men could not reliably 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? (This suggests a couple of things. First, that
      the pagan wise men had again come into favor with the
      king. Second, that Daniel’s job during the intervening
      years was probably being an administrator rather than a
      dream interpreter.)

    3. Read Daniel 4:8-9. What does this suggest about the reason
      Daniel was not consulted first? (It seems that Daniel took
      his time coming before the king.)

      1. Why delay? (It allowed the power of God to be shown
        after the others failed. Maybe Daniel was annoyed for
        not being specifically called in first by the king.)

      2. 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.)

      3. 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 own gods.)

      4. 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, that reveals dreams had
        gotten through to the king. See Daniel 2:27-28.)

    4. Read Daniel 4:10-14. Let’s stop here a moment. If you knew
      nothing about the rest of the story, but you knew about
      the vision of Daniel 2, what would you guess this tree
      represented? (Since Nebuchadnezzar was the worldly star of
      Daniel 2, it is not a very big stretch to see that this
      great tree also represents him.)

      1. Now, consider again the statement of the wise men
        that they could not interpret this dream. Are they
        being honest with the king? Is this one dream they
        are most willing to pass on to Daniel? (Who wants to
        bring bad news?)

      2. Recall that Nebuchadnezzar was terrified by the
        dream. Does this seem to be a scarey dream to you?
        (No. The only reason to find it terrifying is if you
        have the general idea that it refers to you – that
        you are the tree that is about to be cut down and
        stripped. My feeling is that even Nebuchadnezzar
        knew this dream was about him.)

    5. Let’s continue with the dream. Read Daniel 4:15-17. The
      tree now has no top, only a stump and roots, but it has a
      mind. What does this suggest? (A tree can sometimes revive
      from the stump. The reference to a man’s mind suggests
      again this is a dream about a person. However, the mind
      of a man becomes the mind of an animal. You can see why
      the king was terrified by this dream.)

      1. What is the primary point of this dream? What is the
        purpose? (Verse 17 reveals that the purpose is to
        teach “the living” that the true God of heaven
        controls kings and kingdoms.)

    6. Read Daniel 4:18. Why does Nebuchadnezzar still refer to
      “holy gods” when he just (v.17) recited the line “the Most
      High is sovereign?” Is Nebuchadnezzar a Trinitarian? (I
      think Nebuchadnezzar is being stubborn about his
      polytheistic thinking. However, you can take a more
      sympathetic view of him by looking again at verse 17. It
      refers to “messengers, the holy ones.” Nebuchadnezzar
      could simply be referring back to the dream.)

      1. What do think is meant by the “holy ones declare the
        verdict?” What kind of event is this? (This sounds
        like the decision of a heavenly conference such as is
        referred to in Job 1:6.)

  3. The Interpretation

    1. Read Daniel 4:19. Now Daniel is terrified by the dream.
      Does this show in his face?

      1. What kind of attitude does Nebuchadnezzar reveal
        towards Daniel? (He has a good attitude towards
        Daniel. This does not sound like the guy with an
        “anger management” problem that we have seen in past

    2. Read Daniel 4:20-22. Why does God, who seems to want to
      teach the king a lesson in humility, send the king dreams
      which glorify the king’s power?

    3. Read Daniel 4:23-26. Daniel knows that this dream has both
      good news and bad news. Why does he start with the good
      news first?

      1. Does this dream give Nebuchadnezzar hope? (Yes, in
        verse 26 he is told that his kingdom will be restored
        when he acknowledges God.)

    4. Read Daniel 4:27. Daniel gives some unsolicited advice:
      repent. What does Daniel’s advice teach us about God? (God
      does not desire to harm us. He desires our willing
      obedience. For that reason, He warns us in advance about
      judgment and gives us the opportunity to turn from sin.)

      1. Recall that Nebuchadnezzar had previously
        acknowledged the great God of Heaven. ( Daniel 2:47
        and Daniel 3:28-29.) Why hasn’t the king already made
        the statements that God requires? (This gets to the
        heart of things. God is not looking for us to just
        say the right things, He is looking for us to do the
        right things. Verse 27 explains that we renounce our
        sins by doing what is right. We renounce our
        wickedness by being kind to others in need.)

  4. The Result

    1. Read Daniel 4:28-31. How long did God give Nebuchadnezzar
      to repent? (A year.)

      1. We seem to have a bit of a contradiction here. Daniel
        tells the king to repent by doing what is right.
        However, what triggers the predicted punishment is
        the king’s self-glorification speech. If God’s goal
        is to have the king acknowledge that “heaven rules”
        ( Daniel 4:26), then why is Daniel babbling on about
        good works? (When we understand that life is not
        about us, but about God, we follow His rules about
        being just and kind to others. That brings glory to

    2. In Daniel 4:32-35 all that is prophesied happens to King
      Nebuchadnezzar. Read Daniel 4:36-37. As you read verse
      36, does it seem to you that Nebuchadnezzar has learned
      his lesson?

      1. Since God has restored Nebuchadnezzar to his former
        “honor and splendor,” what, really, is the lesson for

      2. Recall that at the beginning of this lesson I posed
        the question, “Why does God keep sending these dreams
        that specifically glorify Nebuchadnezzar?” Now tell
        me, “Why did God restore (v.36) “my
        [Nebuchadnezzar’s] honor and splendor?” (God is not
        against honoring individuals. Nebuchadnezzar is
        entitled to “glory” for what he has done. He is a
        very successful man. What he needs to do, and what he
        does in verse 37, is to acknowledge God as the source
        of his success. His problem was that he did not give
        the proper glory to God. He now does that.)

    3. Friend, how to you handle the success in your life? Do you
      claim responsibility for it? Do you become proud? Or, do
      you give glory to the great God of Heaven who enabled you
      to be successful?

  5. Next week: Surprise Party.