This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.…
In a proper sense of the words, every dream is prophetic. Else on what ground are we to conclude that the dreams of Joseph, Pharaoh, Abimeloch, Pilate's wife, were prophetic; and others not prophetic? Dreams are revelations of dominant ideas and habitudes of mind: they disclose features of moral character; they are reminders of an unslumbering Judge; they serve in some measure to forecast the future. The powers of heaven and of hell lie close about us in our sleep.
I. HUMAN SOVEREIGNTY IS DERIVED FROM GOD. If God had so pleased, he might have placed all men on a level. The principle of co-ordination, instead of subordination, was possible. Some genera of animals seem to have the instinct of subordination to rule among them; others, not. This ambition for rule is, in its original and unselfish character, an endowment from God. Strength, influence, will, power, kingly glory, all proceed from God. What have we of any value that we have not received? Fools men are to be inflated with pride, because another has lent them some possessions in trust. As well may a steward of a lordly estate give himself airs while his lord is absent. As well may the horses yoked to a treasure-van arch their necks and shake their manes because they draw behind them costly metals! Earthly honors are not unmistakable evidences of God's, Invent towards us. He sometimes puts a crown on our heads, that it may lacerate us with its hidden thorns - gives us a sceptre, and chastises us therewith.
II. SOVEREIGNTY, IN SOME FORM, IS GIVEN TO EVERY MAN. It was given to every man to have dominion over the beasts of the field and over the fowls of the air. On every man is imposed the duty to rule himself - his appetite, temper, passions, speech. The loftier part of his nature is divinely commissioned to rule the lower. "Better is he that ruleth his own nature, than he that taketh a city." Our wise and successful government of ourselves forms a course of training which shall fit us to govern others. This truth may well be printed in letters of gold, and set up where we can read it daily. According to our present loyalty will be the extent of future award. "Be thou ruler over ten cities;... be thou ruler over five cities."
III. HUMAN SOVEREIGNTY DOES NOT NECESSARILY IMPLY THE POSSESSION OF THE NOBLEST QUALITIES. The Chaldean sovereignty is represented by gold; the Persian, by silver; the Grecian, by brass; the Roman, by iron. One man, though ill-fitted for the post, may reign by virtue of hereditary succession. Another reigns by reason of his superior sagacity. A third reigns by virtue of real strength of character. A fourth reigns by reason of successful intrigue, or as the result of violent and unscrupulous war. Might is often mistaken for right. One throne is based on law; another rests on bayonets. Qualities and principles very inferior intrinsically often come to the surface, and dominate in human affairs. The dross rises to the top; the virgin metal keeps in obscurity. A Herod is on the throne; Jesus dwells in a stable! The silver is preferred to the gold, yea, the brass takes the place of both. Yet this is only a temporary displacement.
IV. SOVEREIGNTY BASED ON HETEROGENEOUS ELEMENTS COLLAPSES. Iron and clay are both useful in their place; but it was never intended that they should be fused into a unity. A short-sighted monarch frequently vacillates between three or four discordant principles, and, though fortune may, for a time, seem to favour him, yet he never succeeds. Now he insists on royal prerogative; then he concedes to selfish prudence. To-day he uses physical power; to-morrow he yields to fear. "A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand." True principle, consistently adhered to, triumphs at last. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.