And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.
I. The narrative sets before us the value of united prayer.
II. We have an illustration here of the power of gratitude.
III. We have an illustration of the devout humility of genuine piety.
IV. We have an illustration of faithful friendship. When Daniel was exalted, he did not forget his companions.
W. M. Taylor, Daniel the Beloved, p. 20.
References: Daniel 2:1.—R. Payne-Smith, Homiletic Magazine, vol. vi., p. 45; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. v., p. 267.
Daniel 2:3We may feel that this ancient story is not wholly untrue, nor the effects of it wholly lost to it, when we cast our mind upon our own lives, and remember how much we, too, have been haunted by some magnificent dream. When the vision of what life really was, with its deep and solemn significance, was granted to us, we, awaking with the impression of all life's business, lost the vivid force of that dream—we could not recall it, and we turned to the seers about us to revive those impressoins which we felt must be for good. They are plentiful to seek, the wise and the unwise, the weak and the strong, the false and the true; and we, haunted by the remembrance of that vision of what life's deep significance is, turn in vain to these. And yet the conditions may teach us what are the real features and the real capacities of the true prophet. The story suggests that there are two great elements which are essential, in order that a man may be a real helper of his fellow-men, the true prophet of his age. These two were just those that were vouchsafed to Daniel.
I. The first is knowledge of human nature. The king says, "You profess to be able to interpret my dreams. How do I know that your interpretations are true? Tell me what the dream was, and I can verify your accuracy; vindicate your pretensions in a sphere where I can test them, and then I will be able to give you my faith in the sphere where I cannot test them. Show first that you understand me, and then I will believe that you can understand my destiny." Daniel tracks the movement of the man's mind, he shows himself master of the play of his thoughts. That splendid vision, that noble and colossal figure, represented what had passed through the king's mind not that night only but every night. It had been the dream of his life, the splendour and the magnificence of his position; the glorious headship which he held over the empire, which he thought his own, from the high vantage-ground of which he looked down in proud contempt upon human kind. His thoughts were read. And whatever men have been in the position of prophets of their age, their strength and power has depended upon their capacity to read the minds and the play of thought of the men of their age.
II. The second condition is the knowledge of a Divine order. That splendid dream, and that magnificent figure which appeared in the king's dream, is the dream of man in all ages; it is the dream of self-realisation. But while this colossal figure is shown in its splendour, it is also shown in its weakness. This little stone, without hands, should demolish the whole; man's best and noblest dreams, man's most brilliant ambitions, are destined to be overthrown. And why? This stone represents precisely that unseen, that handless power which has not its origin in the conceptions of man, but in the nature of things. This little stone takes the place of this overthrown image; it grows; it is the empire of heart, the kingdom which cannot be shaken; and therefore there has never passed through human mind a dream, a noble and a true dream, that God does not see the way to realise. He breaks down our little efforts to realise it, that He may substitute His own. We look upon the things seen, and because the glittering image stands no more upon the plain of the world, we wring our hands and say, "The vision is dead, and there is no hope for humanity." But those laws which are the work of the spiritual kingdom, and of the moral kingdom, are building up that which we cannot see, but which we may know by the creation of its strength within the citadel of our hearts—that eternal kingdom of the living God which shall never be overthrown.
Bishop Boyd Carpenter, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 8.
Daniel 2:29-49I take the severance of the stone from the mountain to denote the coming of Christ into the world, and the collision of the stone with the image to mean the founding by the Lord of that spiritual kingdom which is in its principles antagonistic to all the world-powers, and which will ultimately subdue them all. Thus viewed, the vision which Daniel recovered and interpreted suggests to us many interesting things concerning the kingdom of Christ.
I. There is, first, its superhuman origin. The stone was "cut out of the mountain without hands."
II. There is the comparative feebleness of its beginning. The language of the vision indicates that the stone grew from a small size until it became a huge mountain.
III. There is, in the third place, the gradualness of its progress. The stone grew until it became a mountain. Not all at once was the development made. And so in the kingdom which it symbolises advancement was by degrees.
IV. There is, fourthly, its universal extent. The mountain filled the whole earth." "The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth."
V. There is, fifthly, the perpetual duration of this kingdom. It shall never be destroyed, and "it shall not be left to other people."
W. M. Taylor, Daniel the Beloved, p. 39.
References: Daniel 2:31-35.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 306. Daniel 2:31-45.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii., p. 324. Daniel 2:31-47.—R. Payne-Smith, Ibid., vol. vi., p. 351.
Daniel 2:34-35I. We see in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar the great fact that the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of truth, is at length to be supreme over all other kingdoms. Other kingdoms have always hitherto represented ideas and forces of evil. From the beginning, even down to the present moment, there has not yet been one kingdom which has aimed supremely at the well-being of the world. All of them, without exception, have been selfish and aggressive, aiming at the accession of territory and the augmentation of power and wealth. The image which Nebuchadnezzar saw did not fall of its own accord. It was not destroyed by a band of enemies. It was destroyed by miracle, by a stone cut out of the mountain without hands. We see in this a type of the fact that the great power—the power which is to be dominant in our world, which is to grow and move and smite all evil—is a miraculous, a heavenly power.
II. We note the apparent contrast between the agent which destroys evil and the evil which is to be destroyed. A stupendous image—that is the evil; a stone, quite small at first, cut out of the mountain without hands—that is the good. It has ever been so. That which is to destroy evil is at first little and despised, and men laugh at it and treat it with mockery. What was Christ to all appearance that He should assume the part of the destroyer of evil? He was as a root out of a dry ground. He was an obscure man, from an obscure city, in an obscure portion of Palestine, without what the world would now deem education. This was the man who claimed to stand forth as the great, the only conqueror of error and sin and death; whose name was to fill, whose love was to inspire, and whose work was to save the world. If that mighty stone moves with a menacing aspect towards all embodiments of evil, it becomes each of us to inquire how we stand in relation to it. Like the wheels of Ezekiel, it is full of eyes. Wherever it sees goodness, faith, love, it leaves them standing. It breaks not the bruised reed. But for them that resist there can be no escape. There is nothing more fatal than the defiance of love.
E. Mellor, The Hem of Christ's Garment, p. 219.
References: Daniel 2:35.—J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. ii., pp. 232, 244. Daniel 2:41, Daniel 2:42.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 310.
Daniel 2:44-45I. Notice the law of decay in human affairs. (1) It is impressively illustrated in the fact that individuals pass so soon out of the memory of the world. (2) It is more impressively illustrated in the fact that nations die. (3) It disappoints the most plausible plans and. expectations of men.
II. To this law of decay in human affairs there is one grand and marvellous exception. God has a kingdom in this world, which lives. (1) It deserves mention in illustration of this exception, that the work of God in redemption is the only thing in human history that dates back to the beginning of time. (2) The contrast between the kingdoms of men and the kingdom of God is further seen in the mysterious vitality of right in this world, in its conflicts with wrong. (3) The contrast is further seen in an anomalous suspension of the law of decay in some cases of historic immortality. The only men who are destined to live while the world lives are those who are in some way especially identified with the kingdom of Christ. (4) The only names from the remote past which in the nature of things can go down to the world's latest ages are those which are to be immortalised by the Christian Scriptures.
A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book, p. 230.
Daniel 2:45(with Proverbs 27:1)
Our subject is the future, and we are to find out what is known, and also what is unknown about it.
I. We owe a great deal, both in the way of stimulus and in the way of education, to the very mysteriousness of the future. It is expectancy—call it hope and fear—that gives life a rare interest: hope itself sometimes brings with it a sting of pain, and fear now and again brings with it even something of weird pleasure. Life that had no future would be but a flat surface, a stiff and cold monotony, a world without a firmament. But with a future it is a hope, an inspiration, a sweet and gracious promise.
II. We know the great broad features of the future, but next to nothing of its mere detail. Mortality, destiny, the future moral state of the world—but detail, nothing! Still, this ignorance of detail ought not to interfere with our right apprehension and proper use of the future. The fact of our ignorance of the future should have a deeply religious effect upon us: (1) dependence; (2) earnestness.
Parker, The Ark of God, p. 222.
References: Daniel 2:46-49.—R. Payne-Smith, Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 121. 2—J. G. Murphy, The Book of Daniel, p. 85; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 184. Daniel 3:1-12.—Ibid., vol. iv., p. 243. Daniel 3:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1930; C. Kingsley, The Good News of God, p. 31.
Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.
Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.
The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.
But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof.
They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it.
The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me.
But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof.
The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king's guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:
He answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.
Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:
That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.
Therefore Daniel went in unto Arioch, whom the king had ordained to destroy the wise men of Babylon: he went and said thus unto him; Destroy not the wise men of Babylon: bring me in before the king, and I will shew unto the king the interpretation.
Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus unto him, I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.
The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?
Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king;
But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him.
The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.
Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.