The Terrifying Dream
Charlatans Summoned (1-11)
During the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, the king had such a disturbing dream that he was stricken with insomnia (1). Daniel obviously was seeking to make the point in this chapter that Yahweh—not magicians, conjurers, soothsayers, enchanters, sorcerers, fortune-tellers, wizards, or astrologers—is the Revealer of secrets (2, 29).
Nebuchadnezzar gathered the wisest mystically-connected men of his administration. This gang of mystics guaranteed they would be able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream if he related it to them.
Nebuchadnezzar was obviously not a complete believer in the metaphysical prowess of his illusionists, so he demanded that they not only interpret the dream, but that they also tell him what dream he had dreamed. If they were unable to reveal the dream, Nebuchadnezzar threatened to tear them limb from limb and strip their fortunes from their families (2-5). Conversely, if they showed him his dream and its accurate interpretation, these illusionists would be richly rewarded (6).
The king's illusionists respectfully and coyly asked again for the king to relate the dream to them so they could give to him the best result and the most reliable interpretation.
Nebuchadnezzar's patience and frustration with this group of charlatans quickly grew thin. He accused the group of delay, of trying to deceitfully seek more time to use their usual tricks in order to pry some hint out of Nebuchadnezzar as to the content of his dream.
Nebuchadnezzar's plan was to use their knowledge of the dream without psychic trickery to verify the veracity or accuracy of their interpretation.
The dream was so deeply concerning to Nebuchadnezzar that he wanted no delusions of chicanery involved in the interpretation.
The enchanters then persisted in trying to get Nebuchadnezzar to talk about the dream just a little, hoping to confuse him until he slipped and gave them at least the general subject-matter of the dream. Nebuchadnezzar held firm; he demanded the gang know and reveal the dream (7-10).
The charlatans then challenged the king's demand based on three principles:
a) The degree of difficulty was inhuman.
b) The request was outrageous and had never been made before.
c) The demand was unrealistic and fitting only for non-material gods (11).
Daniel Emerges (12-16)
Nebuchadnezzar had had enough and demanded the charlatans be destroyed. Not only did he demand the men before him be destroyed, but he also demanded that everyone in their little cadre of mystics be destroyed. This would likely have included Daniel and his friends (12-13).
When Daniel and his friends were found and the decree read, Daniel kept his calm and responded respectfully, showing no signs of fear nor concern for his future. Daniel then listened as Arioch, the commander of the guard, told him all he knew about why the king had issued such a harsh decree.
When Daniel discovered the full range of the problem, he made a request to go and see the king. Once before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel requested time to contemplate so he could show the dream and its interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar was so smitten with Daniel's confidence that he gave Daniel the time he had requested (14-16).
Daniel's Prayer Vigil (17-23)
Daniel then went home and arranged a prayer meeting with his friends, instructing them to begin to seek mercy from God so He would reveal to them Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation, so they would not be destroyed. Daniel put his fate completely in the hands of God. While Daniel did not doubt God would give the dream and interpretation, he still sought the mercy of God, recognizing complete dependence as a quality to receive grace (17-18).
Somewhere during the all-night prayer meeting, the mystery was revealed to Daniel by a vision (19). Daniel did not impulsively run to the king but took time to give thanks and to bless Yahweh.
Daniel blessed Yahweh for:
a) possessing wisdom and might, which were not in the realm of the king's enchanters but under the domain of God (20);
b) being in ultimate control of the world, whether in a direct way, an indirect way, or through epochs of history; Yahweh ultimately rules, not the fatalism of chance;
c) showing His wisdom to those who seek Him for it (21);
d) revealing things that can only be known through personal revelation;
e) His nature’s being light, knowing all that is going on in evil places (22).
Daniel then wrapped up his prayer by giving personal thanks to Yahweh for responding to his and his friends' prayers and showing him the king's dream and its interpretation (23).