Nebuchadnezzar’s Troubling Dream – Daniel 2

What sorts of things keep you awake as you lie in bed at night?  Hopefully nothing.  But for some, simply thinking about the list of things that need to be done the next day can interfere with a restful night’s sleep.

For others, lack of sleep on any given night can have a more serious cause.  It may be a damaged relationship, a loved one’s troubles, an unavoidable conflict, pain or a medical condition, hunger, fear, depression, worry, or even our own nagging conscience playing and replaying an imaginary tape of something regrettable we have said or done.

King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon had a fitful night like this.  Known historically as Nebuchadnezzar the Great, he was the most powerful person of his day.  Though he had absolute authority over every living creature within his empire, he could not go back to sleep because of a troubling dream, a dream sent to him directly by the Lord.  It would lead to the elevation of the prophet Daniel to the upper echelons of the king’s court and lay out the coming framework of Gentile world empires from the times of the kings of Israel until the coming return of earth’s final King, Jesus Christ.

The book of Daniel gives an account of the events surrounding the king’s dream.

1 Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. Then the king gave orders to call in the soothsayer priests, the conjurers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. The king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.”  Daniel 2:1-3 (NASB)

King Nebuchadnezzar had a vast court of spiritual advisors, the wisest and most powerful people in his empire.  These were top representatives from every known spiritual group, but without the inclusion of Daniel and his friends, this court did not yet have any believers in God Almighty.  The group would soon discover that without access to the one true God, they would be helpless in a most desperate situation, and totally dependent upon the mercy of a God they did not know to save them.

King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the advisors draw upon all of their spiritual powers and forces to interpret his troubling dream.  But, to ensure that their interpretation was truly from the gods, he insisted that they tell him the dream first.  This would be an easy test of the validity of their interpretation of the dream.

The advisors suddenly found themselves in a very dangerous situation.  None of them had any idea what the dream was, and whatever forces they called upon did not either – this was a dream directly from the Lord.  They begged King Nebuchadnezzar to reveal the dream to them so they could accurately give its meaning.  But in his distrust of them, he would have none of it.

Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” The king replied to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be turned into a rubbish heap. But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” The king replied, “I know for certain that you are trying to buy time, because you have perceived that the command from me is firm, that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, so that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is no person on earth who could declare the matter to the king, because no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any soothsayer priest, sorcerer, or Chaldean. 11 Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.”  Daniel 2:4-11 (NASB)

Nebuchadnezzar had the authority to kill them all for being fraudulent, and he was fully intending to give the order to begin doing so if they failed to present him with the dream.

Meanwhile, Daniel and his friends had no idea what was going on either with the dream or with any of the deadly consequences that were about to ensue.  This little group was on the fringe of the larger group of spiritual advisors, and though they had not been called upon by the king, they would suffer along with all the others under the king’s judgment.

12 Because of this, the king became angry and extremely furious, and he gave orders to kill all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued that the wise men be killed; and they looked for Daniel and his friends, to kill them.  Daniel 2:12-13 (NASB)

There are times in life when we are absolutely powerless over evil and distressing events around us and the only hope we have is to earnestly pray and to put our desperate situation in the hands of a loving and powerful God.  That is exactly what Daniel and friends are about to do, and God will answer their prayers in a remarkable way.


When was the last time you were in the middle of a life crisis?  How did God bring you through?  Are you in one now?

Lord, we lift up those who are going through difficult times, both in the things we know about and the things we do not.  Bring them Your peace and presence in the eye of the storm and guide them safely through to the other side.  May You receive all the praise, honor, and glory for their deliverance.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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