"King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper." Daniel 4:27
Daniel was a man with an underdog story told in the Old Testament. With God's help and strength, Daniel overcame obstacle after obstacle and came through the other side with strength and resilience. One of the things I admire the most about him is that he was courageous. He courageously spoke the words of God, even when they were unpopular, and even when he knew that saying those words would have a cost.
Daniel 4 shows us a glimpse of Daniel's courage. In this chapter, Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream. He called on Daniel to interpret this dream because Daniel had successfully, with God's help, interpreted his dreams before. As Daniel listened to the king describing the dream, he was frightened. God had revealed that the dream foreshadowed destruction that was going to happen to the king. Now, Daniel could have refused to interpret the dream, but instead, he chose courage and interpreted the dream for Nebuchadnezzar, telling him the hard truth that his pride would bring destruction on him if he did not stop living in sin. He finished his interpretation by pleading with the king, "stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Then you will continue to prosper" (verse 27). He courageously called out the king of Babylon for his sin, and at the same time, showed care and concern for him.
Sometimes, following Christ means that we have to share hard truths courageously. While it can be tempting to give in to fear, there is a better way! We can follow Daniel's courage and speak the truth with care and concern for others, even when it is hard. Let's choose courage and boldness today in everything we do.
Take some time to think about Daniel's courage and strength. What stands out to you about the courage and strength that He exhibited in the verses from Daniel that we are studying today? What is one way that you can model His courage today?
GOING DEEPER Daniel 4:1-37
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream about a Tree
King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:
“Peace and prosperity to you!
“I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me.
How great are his signs,
how powerful his wonders!
His kingdom will last forever,
his rule through all generations.
“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity. But one night I had a dream that frightened me; I saw visions that terrified me as I lay in my bed. So I issued an order calling in all the wise men of Babylon, so they could tell me what my dream meant. When all the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers came in, I told them the dream, but they could not tell me what it meant. At last Daniel came in before me, and I told him the dream. (He was named Belteshazzar after my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
“I said to him, ‘Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too great for you to solve. Now tell me what my dream means.
“‘While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree.
“‘Then as I lay there dreaming, I saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. The messenger shouted,
“Cut down the tree and lop off its branches!
Shake off its leaves and scatter its fruit!
Chase the wild animals from its shade
and the birds from its branches.
But leave the stump and the roots in the ground,
bound with a band of iron and bronze
and surrounded by tender grass.
Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
For seven periods of time,
let him have the mind of a wild animal
instead of the mind of a human.
For this has been decreed by the messengers;
it is commanded by the holy ones,
so that everyone may know
that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world.
He gives them to anyone he chooses—
even to the lowliest of people.”
“‘Belteshazzar, that was the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now tell me what it means, for none of the wise men of my kingdom can do so. But you can tell me because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.’
Daniel Explains the Dream
“Upon hearing this, Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) was overcome for a time, frightened by the meaning of the dream. Then the king said to him, ‘Belteshazzar, don’t be alarmed by the dream and what it means.’
“Belteshazzar replied, ‘I wish the events foreshadowed in this dream would happen to your enemies, my lord, and not to you! The tree you saw was growing very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves and was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth.
“‘Then you saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, “Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven. Let him live with the animals of the field for seven periods of time.”
“‘This is what the dream means, Your Majesty, and what the Most High has declared will happen to my lord the king. You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses. But the stump and roots of the tree were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.
“‘King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.’
The Dream’s Fulfillment
“But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’
“While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’
"That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.
Nebuchadnezzar Praises God
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.
His rule is everlasting,
and his kingdom is eternal.
All the people of the earth
are nothing compared to him.
He does as he pleases
among the angels of heaven
and among the people of the earth.
No one can stop him or say to him,
‘What do you mean by doing these things?’
“When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”