“He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.” — Daniel 2:22
When my daughter was five years old, we had a discussion that has stayed with me through the years. It was still spring, but the weather where we live had already turned hot. Since we often went swimming and enjoyed other warm weather activities, she was surprised to learn one day that the season we were in was still spring, not summer. She asked me, “Why isn’t it summer when it feels like summer?” As I attempted to explain, it quickly became obvious that it would be difficult to come up with an answer a five-year-old could understand. At some point, I concluded that she just needed to believe me.
Considering a child’s limited understanding reminds me that even as adults, we are limited in understanding what God sees very clearly. As our focus verse states, He knows every “deep and secret” thing. Even the darkness does not hide anything from Him! Daniel understood that, and thus knew where to turn when he faced the life-threatening situation described in today’s text. Although King Nebuchadnezzar demanded information that was impossible for man to know, Daniel was wise enough to trust God to reveal it. And God did just that, giving Daniel a night vision regarding what would transpire in days to come.
While I was still young, God taught me to trust His will for my life and to seek Him for guidance. In my teens, I prayed God would show me what career path to take. I had ideas of what to do based on my strengths, interests, and school teachers’ encouragement. However, God led me in an unexpected direction. Years later, I see why God led me in that way, and I’m so glad I chose to trust Him; He truly knew what was best. When I began considering marriage, God made it clear that I should not date a particular young man. Within a couple of months, He brought the right man into my life — one who was a perfect fit. Many times in the years since, my husband and I have turned to God for wisdom, guidance, and understanding. In every situation, He has faithfully revealed the path for us to take.
God rewarded the faith of Daniel and his friends when they prayed for enlightenment, and Daniel expressed his gratitude through praise, saying, “I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee” (verse 23).
Thinking of God’s faithfulness should cause us to trust Him more fully — and fill our hearts with praise and thanksgiving for the victories He brings our way!
Today’s text recounts King Nebuchadnezzar’s troubling dream (verses 1-3), the impossible demand he made of his wise men (verses 4-16), and God’s revelation to Daniel regarding the dream (verses 17-24).
The events in this chapter took place in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, during the three-year training period of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as related in chapter 1. Daniel likely was about fourteen to eighteen years old when he came before the king to interpret the dream.
The word Syriac, in verse 4 refers to the Aramaic language, which was the common language used for trading purposes in the multilingual Babylonian Empire. At this juncture in the narrative, the Book of Daniel changes from the Hebrew language to Aramaic, which continues through the end of chapter 7; beginning with chapter 8, Daniel’s text reverts to Hebrew. The two languages were very similar and used the same alphabet. The language shift may have been made because this section of the narrative dealt with the Gentiles, while chapters 8 through 12 concerned the Jewish people.
In the Babylonian culture, dreams were considered one of the ways their gods communicated with humans, and as king, Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams would have had singular importance. Dream communications in their culture were categorized in two ways: symbolic dreams, when the meaning was not obvious and needed interpretation, and message dreams, which involved communication delivered directly to the dreamer. While the Babylonians would have considered this a symbolic dream, in fact it was a revelation from God regarding events yet to occur in the timeline of history.
In verses 5 and 8, Nebuchadnezzar told his wise men that “the thing is gone from me.” Some interpret this to mean he had forgotten the dream, but more likely it meant “the command has been given” or “I have issued my edict,” referring to his declaration that the wise men would all be killed if they could not relate the dream. It seems evident that Nebuchadnezzar wanted a genuine interpretation of what he sensed was a particularly important dream, so he may have been testing them by requiring knowledge of the dream before accepting their analysis of it.
Daniel and his companions were not among the wise men initially summoned before the king, likely because they had not yet been given a certified place among the professional advisors. However, according to verse 13, they were among those to be slain. The providential hand of God over these Hebrew youths can be seen in the fact that Daniel was granted access to the king, where he promised to show the king the interpretation if he were granted time. Daniel and his friends prayed, and God’s revelation regarding the meaning of the dream came in the form of a “night vision” (verse 19). Daniel immediately praised God for sending the vision, extolling His wisdom, might, and knowledge.
II. The prophetic history of the Gentiles
A. The dream of Nebuchadnezzar (the course of Gentile world powers)
1. The dream concealed by Nebuchadnezzar (2:1-16)
a. The dream of the king (2:1-2)
b. The failure of the wise men (2:3-11)
c. The decree of the king (2:12-13)
d. The declaration of Daniel (2:14-16)
2. The dream revealed to Daniel (2:17-24)
a. The request of Daniel (2:17-18)
b. The revelation to Daniel (2:19)
c. The praise of Daniel (2:20-23)
d. The instruction of Daniel (2:24)
We can trust God because He knows every detail of the circumstances in our lives, and is well able to resolve even “impossible” challenges according to His divine plan.