When the command went out to execute the astrologers, Daniel was included. Soon the commander of the king’s guard, came to escort Daniel and his friends to death row.
At this point young Daniel reveals an astonishing measure of faith. He went to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. Where did Daniel get faith in God strong enough to make such an offer? No doubt Daniel and his friends were well-versed in the Old Testament Scriptures, and they undoubtedly knew the story of Joseph and his interpretation of the dreams of the chief butler and chief cup bearer of Pharaoh and the important dream of Pharaoh. Their situation in Babylon was comparable to Joseph’s. Moreover, when Daniel appeared before Nebuchadnezzar to explain the dream, he answered as Joseph had answered Pharaoh, giving full glory to God: “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” Still, the circumstances were not entirely the same, because Pharaoh had remembered his dream and could tell it to Joseph while Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten his dream and could not tell it to Daniel. Humanly speaking, the situation for Daniel was more difficult.
But only humanly speaking! For man it was an impossible situation. But for God it was no more difficult to disclose and interpret this dream than it was merely to interpret it. The secret of Daniel’s great faith and power is that he had his eyes on God.
That night Daniel called a prayer meeting, and the “effectual, fervent prayer” of these four righteous men availed much. God revealed the dream to Daniel, and the next day Daniel revealed and interpreted the dream to King Nebuchadnezzar.
If we were telling the story, we might rush directly to the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. But Daniel was so struck by God’s goodness in answering his prayer and that of his friends that he could not escape praising God for it.
The theme of the prayer is the sovereignty of God, it is a commentary on why Daniel had been able to act as he had acted and what the dream, which is yet to be interpreted, will be about. The prayer has three parts.
First, there is praise to God for two of his most important attributes: wisdom and power. This means that the prayer begins with adoration, as all good prayers do. A. W. Tozer writes, “The idea of God as infinitely wise is at the root of all truth. It is a datum of belief necessary to the soundness of all other beliefs about God. … Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. It sees the end from the beginning, so there can be no need to guess or conjecture. Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all, and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision. All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for his own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all his acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could his acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined. An infinitely wise God must work in a manner not to be improved upon by finite creatures.”
The second attribute for which Daniel praised God is power, that is, His sovereignty, the theme of Daniel. As the story develops, we are going to see that the battle between Nebuchadnezzar and God was over this issue precisely. Who was in control? Was it Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest ruler of the time? Nebuchadnezzar, who held the very lives of his subjects in his hands? Or was it God, whom Nebuchadnezzar would not even acknowledge? As the story unfolds, Nebuchadnezzar at length subjects himself to this God and confesses Him openly.
The second part of Daniel’s prayer is the acknowledgment that, although all wisdom and power are God’s, God nevertheless imparts both wisdom and power to mankind. No doubt the greatest portion of this wisdom, wisdom of spiritual things, is reserved for God’s people alone. But there is a general wisdom given to nonbelievers too, just as political power is given to non believing as well as believing rulers. The important thing is the recognition that this comes from God, which Daniel did recognize but which Nebuchadnezzar, at least at this stage in his life, did not. It makes all the difference in the way we live our lives when we know that God and not man is ultimately in charge of these circumstances.
Finally, in the third part of his prayer Daniel praises God for the wisdom and power he had imparted to him personally: “I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
You and I have not been given Daniel;s special ability to know and understand dreams because God does not speak this way today. But wise as Daniel was, we have a wisdom greater even than his since it has been given to us to know and believe on Jesus Christ personally. The Bible says that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Corinthians 2:3). So to know Jesus as Savior and Lord is to be wise. If you have that knowledge, do you thank God for it, as Daniel did? Do you praise him for the wisdom that has made you wise unto salvation?