Saturday 5 March 2016

Daniel 4 Commentary : Nebuchadnezzar Goes Mad and Eats Grass

Mental and psychological diseases have confronted mankind since the fall of man in the garden of Eden. I somehow also think that mental and psychological diseases have worsened in our fast paced societies.

King Nebuchadnezzar appears in Daniel chapter 4 for the last time and he is suffers from a mental disease.

As one reads the opening verses of Daniel chapter you are given the impression that Nebuchadnezzar respected the God of Israel. He also acknowledges the Most High God's universal and eternal rule.

Nebuchadnezzar's Second Dream Daniel 4:4,5

The kingdom of Babylon has reached its pinnacle and Nebuchadnezzar receives a second dream from the Lord. He is terrified by the dream.

Fortunately unlike in Daniel chapter 2 where he forgot the dream this time around he remembers it. He now seeks its interpretation.

It is interesting that instead of consulting Daniel first he consults his wise men who have failed him before. Unfortunately his wise men cannot interpret the dream.

As a result the kings calls for Daniel to come and solve this mystery. It reminds me of myself and many people who first try to solve our problems on our own instead of seeking the Lord's help immediately.

Another interesting point in this chapter is found in verse 8 where the statement "according to the name of my god" shows that while Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the true God he still adhered to his own gods. It looks like he regarded the God of heaven as one of many gods.

What Was The Dream That Nebuchadnezzar Dreamt?

Nebuchadnezzar dreams about a tree that is about to be cut down. Someone from heaven announces the judgment on the tree.

It is also clear that the tree is really a symbol for the chapter talks about a human heart that will be replaced by the heart of a beast. The heavenly messages also announces a time span for this "beastly" condition.

Further as we have seen before in Daniel 2 and other chapters the Lord is the ultimate authority. He controls history and the affairs of humankind.

The Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar Second Dream About the Cut Tree

One thing is clear from even a casual reading of this chapter; Daniel loves Nebuchadnezzar and wishes him well. He feels sorry about what is going to happen to him as a result of the judgment of God as expressed in this dream.

In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar and his empire are the golden head. However in Daniel 4 he is the tree and he provides shelter in the form of protection and well being for the nations. 

But there is a God in heaven who is more supreme than the any king including King Nebuchadnezzar. Everyone is accountable to him whether they know it or not. 

He, the God of heaven has delivered his verdict and Nebuchadnezzar has been found wanting and will be cast out of society for seven years.

There is however a purpose to this judgment. It is mingled with grace in that it has been passed to teach Nebuchadnezzar about the king of heaven and to help him return to him.

In verse 27 Daniel pleads with Nebuchadnezzar to repent as the disaster can be averted if he commits his life to God. Like the story of Jonah in the judgment of Nineveh the judgment is not automatic as it is linked to conditions. 

The dream in essence is a warning to King Nebuchadnezzar.

The Fulfillment of the Dream

In spite of the warning King Nebuchadnezzar has not humbled himself before God and continues to be arrogant and proud. In verses 28-30 he glorifies himself and his accomplishments without acknowledging the God of heaven who made it all possible.

As a result the verdict is executed and Nebuchadnezzar becomes mad, insane. He is driven out of society.

Nebuchadnezzar's Conversion

The story however has a happy ending as Nebuchadnezzar finally recognises the God of heaven and praises and prays to him. He recognises the God of heaven as the only true God and does not blame him for his sickness.

The healing from his insanity took place because he looked up to God and repented from his sins. As a result of his relationship with the God of heaven he was healed and returned to his throne. 

We too need to look up and "fix our eye on Jesus" (Heb 12:2). God used Daniel to help him go back to the Lord. God can use you too to lead others to Christ.

New Testament Connections To The Tree

In Matt 13:32 Jesus uses a parable of great tree with animals seeking shelter under it to describe the kingdom of God which surpasses any earthly kingdom including Babylonian empire.                         

The fall of Nebuchadnezzar resulting from his pride points to the fall of symbolic, end-time Babylon (See Rev 14:8; also chapters 17 and 18). The term "Babylon The Great" is found in both books.

Please find below a video discussion on Daniel 4 as seen on 3ABN.    

Click here for the next study: Daniel chapter 5.


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