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Read Daniel 4

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of a Tree

King Nebuchadnezzar,

To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:

May you prosper greatly!

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
    how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
    his dominion endures from generation to generation.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologersand diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed:I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.

13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven timespass by for him.

17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’

18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

Daniel Interprets the Dream

19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.

23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

The Dream Is Fulfilled

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Go Deeper

In Daniel 4, we see King Nebuchadnezzar proclaiming the signs, wonders, and kingdom of the Most High God. He’s gone from a pagan king who demanded his own people worship him, to someone who exclaims the generational sovereignty of the God of Israel. He’s clearly seen what the Lord can do in saving Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and he’s intrigued by the miraculous works of the Lord.

The King has a dream that confuses him, and none of his usual dream interpretation methods or people work, so he calls for Daniel to see if he can help him. In his dream, the king hears a message, that “the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes…” (Daniel 4:17). This same phrase is repeated in Daniel 4:25 and 4:32. 

After hearing about the King’s dream, Daniel was both perplexed and terrified. It appears that Daniel is terrified and dismayed because he knows it’s not a good outcome for the King. In fact, it’s more of a nightmare or bad dream! Daniel knows he has a choice—he can either tell the King what would make Nebuchadnezzar happy, or he could tell him the truth about his dream. Daniel knows he must tell the King the truth, but in doing so, he knows he’s risking his life. He’s not excited about telling one of the most powerful people in the world the same bad news.

Daniel’s heart breaks for the King, but he still chooses to tell Nebuchadnezzar the truth. Over and over in the book of Daniel, we see Daniel’s remarkable courage, and we have much we can learn from him. The King could have Daniel killed, tossed into a fire, or thrown into a lion’s den. But, Daniel knows the Most High is sovereign over all. Whether in plenty or in want, Daniel knows the secret of being content because he trusts in God. And he asks the King to do the same—to renounce his sin and wickedness. Daniel’s same challenge applies to us all today as we get the privilege of speaking the truth in love to others.


  1. Daniel was dismayed for the king. Does your heart break for others in the midst of pain/challenges? How’s your empathy for others?
  2. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Do you choose to please man or please God?
  3. Take a moment and pray to God the King’s words from Daniel 4:37: “Praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

Did You Know?

King Nebuchadnezzar calls Daniel “Belteshazzar,” after the name of his Babylonian god, Bel. Even though the King seemed to have a genuine conversion experience, he still clung to his pagan idols and practices. You can learn more in this article on Got Questions.

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5 thoughts on “Daniel 4”

  1. Daniel was in a dilemma, tell the king the truth and face death possibly, or sugarcoat it and make the world happy. Hum sounds like what has happened to our world as of late. Standing up for the truth of God and His word, with fear of God not of man was lost and the land we live in is lost. When I leave God out of EVERY decision I am making a grave mistake. Pride gets in the way, people pleasing, fear of man. Daniel did what we/I should do every time also, if the king would just do the right thing= vs 27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity. There are always 2 choices good or not so good. BUT GOD did what He said He would and the king praised Him. Oh how we should be doing so also!!! Spurgeon suggested the proper response of the believer to the greatness and sovereignty of God:
    · Have a heart of humble adoration.
    · Show a heart of unquestioning acceptance.
    · Exercise the spirit of reverent love.
    · Let your spirit have profound delight.

    God thank You for my heart to be humble in adoration! God thank You for knowing in my knower that You are sovereign, above all and in all. God help me to be strong when I see or am in a situation that requires me to not be wimpy, but to stand up and with love through You, say those things or not say anything, guide me. I praise You for the wisdom and understanding You are showing me daily. God thank You for continuing to give me that true fear so that I am not just playing “christian” but that I am truly a Christ follower in Jesus name amen.

  2. Jeremiah 29:12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

    This promise applied to King Nebuchadnezzar, too.
    JP’s sermon Sunday was a good prep for this passage.

  3. Ella Snodgrass

    Notice a phrase repeated throughout this passage, “the spirit of the holy gods is in you” is fraught with meaning. It’s worth noting these words are spoken by pagan King Nebuchadnezzar about Daniel. More than any accolade or accomplishment our goal as believers should be that God’s spirit be evident in us. One that empowers and equips us to navigate the tricky culture we live in, but most importantly glorifies our awesome God.

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    Many people attend church and use spiritual language, but do they really believe in God and obey Him? How do your/my beliefs match with your/my obedience? We may recognize that God exists and does wonderful miracles, but God is not going to change us, until we acknowledge him as Lord. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
    Unbelief is a lack of knowledge, fear and not fully receiving the love of our heavenly Father. We do our part by filling up with the Word, refusing to fear, and receiving His love; and He will meet us with His supernatural power.
    Heavenly Father, forgive me in the name of Jesus, for causing any grief to the Holy Spirit through unbelief, anger or strife or in any way walking outside of Your love. Help me to fully accept and receive the love You have for me, because you are Love. Help me to honor Your commandment to believe on the name of Jesus and to love others. In Jesus name. Amen

  5. King Nebuchadnezzar has a testimony that is similar to a lot of us— let us use this as a reminder of us being saved. What were we saved from? Power? Control? Addiction? Who was our Daniel that helped us open our eyes?

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