Chapter 1 told us that Daniel was a young man with God given wisdom and the ability to understand dreams and visions. (1:17) Chapter 2 will show us the things. The triumph of Daniel’s God given wisdom over the wisdom of the Babylonians is the primary point of this chapter. The contents of the dream is secondary to the conflict between Daniel and the Babylonians.
This story is in the framework of a contest at the court of the king. There are similarities to Joseph in the court of Pharaoh in Genesis 41.
I Dreamed a Dream
Nebuchadnezzar began to have troubling dreams in the second year of his reign. It was common in his world for people to believe dreams had special meaning and may even be messages from their gods. In fact we will see that the dream did not come from the gods, but from the only God. The dream troubled the king so much he could not sleep.
Calling the Wise Men
The king wanted to discover the meaning of his dreams. Being king, Nebuchadnezzar had many servants and officials at his disposal including magicians, enchanters, and sorcerers. He also had Chaldeans. The Chaldeans had been assimilated into Babylonia by this time, so the title probably meant astrologers as opposed to people from Chaldea. This fits the context here. The King summoned all those who claimed special wisdom or the ability to interpret dreams.
It seems that Nebuchadnezzar did not trust these folks much, though. He made them not only interpret his dream, but tell him what the dream was. He was unyielding in this despite their pleas. They finally said no one could do this except the gods and they do not dwell with humans. (2:11) That statement turns out to be true. God gave the dream and only he could reveal it. Amos 3:7 says “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets”.
The Death Penalty
The failure of the wise men infuriated the king, so he ordered them all put to death. Unfortunately, this included Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah even though they were not part of the group that appeared before the king. There is great drama here for the Jewish reader. The righteous Jewish boys are in mortal danger because of the actions of pagan gentiles. Will they die? Will they be saved?
Daniel found out the problem and made an appointment with the king to interpret the dream. At this point, Daniel did not know either the dream or the interpretation. He had confidence in God to reveal it to him and save him from death. He had tremendous faith for a very young man.
God gave Daniel favor with Nebuchadnezzar. Despite ordering the death of all the wise men, Nebuchadnezzar granted David an appointment for the next day and a temporary reprieve from the death sentence.
We again see God answer Solomon’s pray in 1 Kings 8:50 to cause the captors to have compassion on God’s people.
Daniel Sought God & God Answered
Daniel did not presume upon God to give him the answer. He went to his friends and told them to pray. They were to ask for God’s mercy to reveal the dream and interpretation. They prayed. God answered through a vision.
Daniel Blessed God For The Answer
Daniel immediately thanked God for the answer and praised him. He acknowledged God’s sovereignty over the earth (times and seasons) and people (removes and sets up kings). (2:21) God has the power to control human events. This foreshadows the message of the dream.
Daniel acknowledged God’s knowledge of all things and his ability to reveal them when he chooses. (22) We will continue to see Daniel’s humility. He does not take credit for the things God does.
I also like the fact that Daniel prayed and thanked God before he went to the king. I might have been tempted to get to the king as fast as possible so that I could get out from under the death sentence. But Daniel puts God first. We should all do this when God answers our prayers.
Daniel Credits God For The Revelation
When Daniel appeared before the king, he gave credit to God. He said the mystery was given to him not because he was wise, but so that God could let the king know the dream’s meaning. (30) Daniel pointed Nebuchadnezzar toward God. This is placed in contract to Arioch, who took credit for finding a man who could interpret the king’s dreams when Daniel had actually come to him. We see, then, that part of Daniel’s wisdom is humility. It is the trait the Bible constantly extols. As Proverbs 1:7 says, the fear of the Lord in the beginning of knowledge.
This tiny little scene is a microcosm of behavior, showing us how the world works in contrast to the way the kingdom works. People of the world seek to promote themselves, taking credit even if not due. People of the kingdom praise God, not themselves, and understand they are his servants. God’s ultimate servant was Jesus, who is the ultimate example of humility. Jesus “…humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”(Philippians 2:8)
The purpose of the dream was the future. God revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, through the dream and Daniel’s interpretation, what would happen to his kingdom and what the future held in regard to kingdoms.