In the opening part of this chapter the king manifests a very different attitude towards the Lord from that of 2:47. The probable reason is that between chapters 2 and 3 there is an interval of several years, during which Nebuchadnezzar had evidence that his own god was greater than the God of the Jews (cf. verse 15b).It accounts also for the enmity of the officials against Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They would resent Jews continuing to hold rule over the province of Babylon.
- What threefold accusation was brought against the three Hebrews? Consider how subtly it was worded to stir the king’s anger.
- How does this trial of faith differ from anything these men had had to meet up to this time? For similar instances of courage, see Acts 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 2 Tim. 4:16-17. What purposes were served by the miracle of deliverance that God brought about?
The theme of this chapter is pride. It takes the from of a decree by Nebuchadnezzar announcing the strange dreams and visions he has seen, through which he has learnt the all-important lesson that ‘the Most high is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes’ (verse 25). It can be compared with Is. 14:8-17 and Ezek. 28:1-10, passages that in their turn look back to the basic sin of humanity (Gen. 3).
- How effective was the king’s experience in bringing him to humility? Contrast his attitude to God and confession of him in this chapter with his previous utterances in 2:47; 3:29. How would you define the change?
- What are the main themes of Daniel’s teaching in this situation? With verse 27, cf. Mic. 6:8.
- Verse 13. ; A messenger, a holy one’: i.e., an angelic figure who acted with the authority of God.
- Verse 33. The mental derangement, known as zoanthropy, lasted for a set period described as ‘seven times’ (verse 16). This could mean ‘seven years’ or simply; a substantial period of time’. In the apocryphal ‘Prayer of Nabonidus’, found at Qumran, it is recorded that King Nabonidus, a successor of Nebuchadnezzar, spent seven years of his reign in isolation at Teima because of some strange illness. So this chapter is not without parallel in ancient traditions.