Daniel 4:19
For a time, Daniel, who was also known as Belteshazzar, was perplexed, and his thoughts alarmed him. So the king said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you." "My lord," replied Belteshazzar, "may the dream apply to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your enemies!
Human Greatness, its Rise, Fall, and RestorationH.T. Robjohns Daniel 4:4-18, 20-27
Sad TidingsW. Morrison.Daniel 4:19-26
The Symbolical TreeW. White.Daniel 4:19-26
Reproof by the SaintlyH.T. Robjohns Daniel 4:19, 26, 27
Prophetic CounselJ.D. Davies Daniel 4:19-28
Moments, of AstonishmentJoseph Parker, D.D.Daniel 4:19-37
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him (ver. 19). "Astonied for one hour." This is not quite accurate. The meaning is that Daniel was so troubled, so overcome, that he remained for some time without uttering a word. Perhaps he stood gazing at the king in mute amazement and sorrow. At length the king himself broke the distressing silence, encouraging the prophet to cast away all fear of consequences, and to tell the meaning, whatever it might be. With much trembling, doubtless, in a tone of deep respect, with fidelity softened by tenderness, Daniel proceeded to point out the meaning - the king's sin and the king's doom. This passage in the history suggests much as to the giving and receiving of reproof. We are our brothers' keepers, but it is to be feared that this duty of spiritual guardianship is one very much neglected. Let us first look at things from the point of view of -

I. THE BEPROVED. There are many difficulties in approaching a man with even the most necessary reproof, most of which were present in this case of the king. A sinner is like a fort surrounded by many lines of entrenchment. The reprover is quite conscious of the strength of the moral fortification, and is oft deterred from his duty. The reproved is ready to repel reproof by virtue of:

1. Self-love. "Most quick, delicate, and constant of all feelings."

2. Pride. The reprover seems to assume the office of both lawgiver and judge. But what right this superiority?

3. Difference in social rank. It matters not whether, as in this case, the reproved be of superior rank or of inferior. If the former, the reproved resents the audacity; if the latter, what he is pleased to call the patronage.

4. Absence of moral aspiration. The reproved does not really desire to be better than he is.

5. Contrariety of judgment. The reproved doubts the principle upon which you are proceeding; e.g. you expostulate with a man on the sin of gambling; but he disputes your premiss, viz. that there is wrong in gambling. There is no sin or vice which some men will not be found to defend. Nebuchadnezzar may have considered all his oppressions of the poor, etc., as quite within his kingly right.

6. Suspicion of the reprover's motive.

II. THE REPROVER - his tone and spirit. He should be characterized by:

1. Sincere and simple sympathy for the man. In this respect Daniel was perfect.

2. Grief over the moral position.

3. Sorrow for the consequences.

4. Fidelity.

5. Courtesy. Note the tone of vers. 19, 27. Daniel was mindful of his relation to his king.

6. Hopefulness. Daniel gave counsel simple, comprehensive, direct. And then expresses a large hope, "If it may be," etc. (vers. 26, 27). Some elements in -


1. It was solicited. An immense advantage.

2. Based on adequate knowledge. Nothing can be more paralyzing to a would-be reprover than to find that he is proceeding either on false or unproved assumptions.

3. Strong by authority of truth. "In presenting admonitory or accusatory truth, it should be the instructor's aim that the authority may be conveyed in the truth itself, and not seem to be assumed by him as the speaker of it." "One man, a discreet and modest one (and not the less strong for that), shall keep himself as much as he can out of the pleading, and press the essential virtue and argument of the subject. Another makes himself prominent in it, so that yielding to the argument shall seem to be yielding to him. His style, expressly or in effect, is this: 'I think my opinion should have some weight in this case;' 'These arguments are what have satisfied me;' 'If you have any respect for my judgment,' etc. So that the great point with him is not so much that you should be convinced, as that he should bare the credit of convincing you."

4. Well-timed. "The teller of unpleasing truths should watch to select favourable times and occasions (mollia tempora fandi) when an inquisitive or docile disposition is most apparent; when some circumstance or topic naturally leads without formality or abruptness; when there appears to be in the way the least to put him (the person reproved) in the attitude of pride and hostile self-defence" For aught we know, Daniel may have had it on his mind for a long time to speak to the king; at length the day of opportunity dawned.


1. The reproof was not at once successful. For a year more (ver. 29) the king seems to have gone on, in the same spirit, to do the same deeds.

2. But was so finally. (Ver. 34.) When reproof had been emphasized by judgment. The memory, then, of Daniel's counsel. - R.

"Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him." There are moments of astonishment in all true ministries. The word "hour" should be replaced by the word "moment": Then Daniel was astonished for one moment. But into one moment how many hours may be condensed! Into one feeling a whole lifetime, with manifold and tragical experience, may enter. We have nothing to do with mere time in calculating spiritual impression, spiritual service, spiritual enjoyment. Daniel was not a man to be easily affrighted; the astonishment which befell him was moral, imaginative, not in the sense of fancying things that did not exist, but in the sense of giving realities their largest scope and meaning. He was astonished that such a fate was awaiting king Nebuchadnezzar. It was like a blow struck upon the very centre of his forehead; when he saw what was going to befall the king he was struck, as it were, with a spear of lightning, his voice faltered, as did the fashion of his countenance. He had a message to deliver, and yet he delivered it with tears that were hidden in the tone of his voice. He was not flippant; he was solemn with an ineffable solemnity. Never was he in such a position before. Only the Divine Spirit could make him equal to the responsibilities of that critical hour. Many words we can utter easily, but to pronounce doom upon life, any life, old man's or little child's, is a task which drives our words back again down the throat. We cannot utter them, yet we must do so; we wait in the hope that some relief will come, but relief does not come from this burden-bearing in the sanctuary of life. The preacher is often as much astonished as the hearer, and as much terrified. In proportion as the preacher is faithful to the hook which he has to read, expound, and enforce, will he sometimes come to passages that he would rather not read. It would be delightful if we could expel the idea of penalty from our human intercommunion. Men have tried to fill up the pit of hell with flowers, and all the flowers have been consumed. It would be delightful to hide by concealment of any kind the horrors that await the wicked man, but to hide those horrors is to aggravate them. It can be no joy to any man to go forth and say, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." No man could utter such words but in obedience to the election and ordination of God. It is easy, if we consult our own flesh and sense and taste alone, to hide the Cross of agony and shame; but he who hides the Cross hides the salvation which it symbolises, and without which it is impossible. It is not easy for any man, Jonah or Daniel, Hosea or Joel, to say unto the wicked, It shall be ill with thee. We would rather live upon the other side of the hill, where the sun smiles all day, where the flowers grow as if they would never cease to unfold some new secret of colour and beauty, and where the birds trill a song from hour to hour, as if growing in capacity as they multiply in service. But the hill of the Lord is many-sided; we should be unfaithful and unjust if we did not recognise its multifold aspects, and show them to those who have come to see the reality and the mystery of the Divine Kingdom amongst men. Daniel looks wondrously well in the moment of his astonishment. The man's best self is now in his face. How quiet he is, and what singular tenderness plays around the sternness which befits the message that he is about to deliver! What a mixture of emotion, what an interplay of colour, what an agony of sensation! yet Daniel is a true man, and he will speak the true word, come of it what may, so far as he himself is concerned; furnace of fire or den of lions, he must speak the word which the Lord has given to him. Why do we not follow his example? Why do we try to take out of the Divine word all things offensive? It would be easy to pander to human taste, and to flatter human vanity, and to assure the half-damned man that the process cannot be completed, but that after all he will be taken to Heaven and made a seraph of. Who can tell lies so thick, so black? Let him eschew the altar and the Cross.

(Joseph Parker, D.D.)

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