Study Notes

Daniel 2:1-30


As you recall from last week's study, Nebuchadnezzar had besieged Jerusalem, taking away the treasures of the temple and the people of the city. Daniel and his three friends were among the young men chosen from among the captured Hebrews to be educated and trained to serve in the king's court.

When these four took a stand to remain faithful to the Lord, God honored that and granted them knowledge and intelligence. At the end of their training, they stood apart and were chosen to become consultants to the king for matters of wisdom and understanding.

2:1-2 The Second Year

The date of chapter two seems to be a point of contention among commentators. It is clear from the context that these things happened after Daniel had been trained for three years, and had begun to serve in the king's court. If that is so, how could it only be the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign? History shows us that he took over some kingly duties for the last two years his father was still alive. This, then, would have been the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's true reign, or one year after Daniel began to serve in the king's court.

Nebuchadnezzar's Nightmares

After King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing night of dreams, he called together the magicians, conjurers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans. These were the guys who seemed to have the scoop on the supernatural, and this dream was clearly out of the ordinary.

Each of these groups mentioned specialized in different areas.

The members of the first class listed are called magicians. This term comes from a Hebrew root word meaning "to engrave." These were men whose connection with the spirit world was based on their knowledge of the occult, having studied the occultic engravings, and uttering these inscribed ancient incantations.

Next are the conjurers. These were people who would talk with the dead. They were the necromancers, channeling spirits through their own bodies.

Thirdly, sorcerers were what we call witches. They used spells and incantations to affect the natural world through supernatural means.

Lastly, there are the Chaldeans. Now, this can be confusing, since the inhabitants of Chaldea were called Chaldeans. But there was also a certain group of men among the citizens who were considered wise and learned, who became known as the Chaldeans.

But King Nebuchadnezzar didn't invite his wisest counselors, Daniel, Shad-RAK, May-SHAK, or Ab-ADE Neg-O.

To understand more fully, we might say today that Nebuchadnezzar summoned occultists, psychics, wiccans, and scholars to help him understand what his dream meant. But he didn't invite any fundamental Bible-believers.

Isn't that the way of the world? Even in spiritual matters, we find that everyone is consulted except the evangelistic Christians. When a TV show wants to talk about Noah's ark, exorcism, or the crucifixion of Christ, who do they call in? Every so-called "expert" except the one with the right answer, the Biblical answer.

2:3-12 The Counselors' Failure

The king wanted to know what the dream meant. The men around him said, "No problem. Tell us the dream and we'll interpret it." But the king insisted that they tell him the dream in addition to its interpretation. This is how he would know if they were truly able to interpret it accurately (verse 9).

When the wise men said that no one could do this, the king commanded that all of them in Babylon should be killed.

2:13-16 Discretion And Discernment

The king had not called Daniel and his three friends to discuss the dream. Yet, because they were classified as wise men, they were going to be put to death the same as the others.

Arioch was the captain of the king's bodyguard. As an aside, I found this really interesting. The word translated bodyguard here is "tab-BAWKH," whose root word means to slaughter or kill ruthlessly. It is translated as bodyguard, executioner, and cook! How'd you like to find out that your cook is one who kills ruthlessly? (In reality, it referred to the killing and butchering of the animals for meat.)

Well, Arioch was dispatched to do the wise men in, including Daniel and his friends. Daniel was going to die for something he had no involvement in. Consider this: depending on what kind of man Daniel was, he might take up arms and fight to defend himself. He might complain and point out how unfair and wrong the situation was. He might even cry and beg for mercy. But he did none of those things. He simply responded with discretion and discernment, or "wisdom and tact" (NIV).

The proverb says,

Prov. 2:11 Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you

Had Daniel done any different, he would be dead.

Looking at his level head and spiritual wisdom, it is amazes me when I remember that Daniel was only in his late teens or early 20's at this point!

He asked the king for time, and was granted it. Again, this was an example of God's divine intercession, giving Daniel favor in the eyes of an authority, because earlier the king had not been willing to grant time, telling the others,

Dan. 2:8 ..."I know for certain that you are bargaining for time..."

2:17-18 Requesting Compassion From God

After being granted time by the king, Daniel went home and told Khan-an-YAW, Mee-shaw-ALE, and Az-ar-YAW (Shad-RAK, May-SHAK, or Ab-ADE Neg-O) what the situation was. Together, they requested compassion from God.

You recall that James wrote,

James 1:5-8 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, {being} a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Asking God and believing God. These are what moves the hand of God. Even before James wrote these words, Daniel knew the principle. Ask God and He will answer.

2:19-23 Revealed In A Night Vision

God did answer. Nebuchadnezzar's mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision.

What is a night vision? It could be a certain kind of dream, because they are often referred to together. For example, Isaiah wrote,

Isa. 29:7 ... all who wage war against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, Shall be like a dream, a vision of the night.

But there are other Scriptures that seem to differentiate between the two. As the Lord said in Numbers,

Num. 12:6 ...If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream.

So, I do not know exactly what one is - I've never had one. But I know that Jacob did. We read in Genesis,

Gen. 46:2 And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here I am."

At least we do know that night visions have two-way audio in them!

Paul also experienced this. In Acts, we see that...

Acts 16:9 ...a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."

And later,

Acts 18:9 ...the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid {any longer} , but go on speaking and do not be silent

God revealed the mystery to Daniel this way, and Daniel praised God, blessed God, and thanked God for doing this. How often we forget to give God thanks for answered prayer! You recall that when Jesus was travelling towards Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. At a certain village, ten lepers stood away from Him, crying out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" He responded that they should go show themselves to the priests, and as they were going, they were cleansed.

Luke 17:15-18 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine -where are they? Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?"

How inconsiderate! How unthankful! How much like us. Let us remember to pray with thanksgiving after having prayed with our requests.

2:24-30 Giving God The Glory

When Daniel was taken before the king, he made sure that he was not going to get glory or credit for having the interpretation. He made sure to emphasize that it was God.

Too often, the people that God uses get God's credit. Although they are merely tools being used in the hand of God, they become the focus of the attention. I know a good many craftsmen who are truly gifted and make some amazing creations. But at no time have I ever said, "Wow - this is such a fine piece of work! May I see the saw that you used to cut this wood? May I give glory to the drill bit that made these holes? I'd really like to know who your hardware salesman is, that I might give him thanks." Of course we don't do that. It is the one who handles the tools that receives the glory, not the tool. So it should be with us who are used in the hand of God.

In Numbers 20, the congregation of Israelites in the wilderness was once again thirsty. They contended with Moses, and Moses went to the Lord. God said,

Num. 20:8-12 "Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink." So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, "Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?" Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."

God was the one doing the miracle, and Moses was just the instrument of that miracle. But he shouted, "Must WE bring forth water?" The work was all of God, yet he was taking the credit. This ended Moses' ministry.

We must be careful not to take credit for that which the Lord desires glory. After all, as Paul told the Corinthians,

1Cor. 4:7 ...what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

What Would Take Place

Daniel tells the king that God revealed to him that on the night he had the dream, he had been laying on his bed wondering what would take place in the future. The dream revealed what the future held.

We will look at Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's interpretation as we finish chapter two of the book of Daniel next week.

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