Today’s Scripture Focus: Daniel 4:19-27
Today we continue our study of the book of Daniel. The book is named for the prophet Daniel, who as a young member of the Judean royal family was taken as an exile to Babylon (modern day Iraq), the ruling world power of the day. In Babylon, Daniel served as a court wise man to King Nebuchadnezzar, who often had troubling dreams and made hot headed decisions based on them. Daniel rose to prominence among the wise men for his ability to interpret the king’s dreams and advise him with godly counsel. The king often disregarded Daniel’s advice, only to realize Daniel’s source of wisdom was “God Most High”and shouldn’t be ignored.
Daniel chapter 4 is a perfect example of this, and is told in the voice of King Nebuchadnezzar himself. This story is either a letter from the king to all of Babylon written in the form of a poem, or a poem about the king written in the form of a letter. We draw this conclusion because it is written in chiastic “ring” structure, meaning it can be divided into corresponding, related sections (A, B, C , C, B, A). The chapter begins and ends with Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging God’s sovereignty with hymns of praise (A), gives Nebuchadnezzar’s actions before and after his dream (B), and in the center gives the dream and its interpretation by Daniel (C).
Remember that Nebuchadnezzar is the most powerful ruler the world has known up until this point in history. Babylon was an amazing city, filled with beautiful gardens. In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, a great tree in the center of the gardens grows up to the sky and covers the land, providing shelter for all kinds of wild creatures. Suddenly, an angel decrees the tree be chopped down and all its inhabitants must scatter. The stump, however, is ordered to remain in the grass. It wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch for the king to conclude that the tree represented him or his kingdom, but he was disturbed by the “chopping down” part!
As Daniel reluctantly gives the interpretation of the dream, he points out to the king that he is indeed the tree, but that he will soon be driven insane and made like one of the beasts of the field until he acknowledges God’s sovereignty. “Sovereignty” means that God is all powerful and in control. Sure enough, a year later the king was taking stock of his kingdom and patting himself on the back for his great accomplishments. As the words of self praise left his lips, a voice from Heaven spoke, and the king because like an ox. Nebuchadnezzar was the world’s most powerful man, “but there is a God in Heaven”, and the king learned the hard way that God is in control.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
What accomplishments are you most proud of in life (a special skill, promotion, award, or achievement)? What role did/does God play in helping you with those accomplishments?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?