Friday, April 9

Reader: “Praise the name of God forever and ever,”

Response: “for he has all wisdom and power.”

Scripture: Daniel 2:1-23       

One night during the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn’t sleep. He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, he said, “I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means.”

Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, “Long live the king! Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”

But the king said to the astrologers, “I am serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble! But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me the dream and what it means!”

They said again, “Please, Your Majesty. Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”

The king replied, “I know what you are doing! You’re stalling for time because you know I am serious when I say, ‘If you don’t tell me the dream, you are doomed.’ So you have conspired to tell me lies, hoping I will change my mind. But tell me the dream, and then I’ll know that you can tell me what it means.”

The astrologers replied to the king, “No one on earth can tell the king his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer! The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.”

The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed. And because of the king’s decree, men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends.

When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. He asked Arioch, “Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?” So Arioch told him all that had happened. Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant.

Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said,

“Praise the name of God forever and ever,

    for he has all wisdom and power.

He controls the course of world events;

    he removes kings and sets up other kings.

He gives wisdom to the wise

    and knowledge to the scholars.

He reveals deep and mysterious things

    and knows what lies hidden in darkness,

    though he is surrounded by light.

I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,

    for you have given me wisdom and strength.

You have told me what we asked of you

    and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:

We continue on with Daniel today as we look at the incident with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Remember, Nebuchadnezzar is the first king he served so Daniel is still a very young man. You know the story. The king had a very troubling dream. In this particular culture, great meaning was attached to dreams. Astrologers and magicians made a living interpreting dreams so the king called to them for their interpretation, a field called oneiromancy. As usual they asked the king to tell them the dream. As the king was not in a good mood, things did not go well. He demanded they tell him the dream and its meaning. Not having divine powers they, of course, could not do this at which point the king promised to kill them for their inability to meet his demand. 

The astrologer’s realistic response got them into even more trouble. You see, the king was supposed to be treated as divinity, as a god. Here is their death knell comment. “No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.” In other words, king, you are not a god! With that, Nebuchadnezzar lost it completely and ordered all the wise men to be executed immediately. His divinity had been directly insulted.

When the king’s enforcer came to kill them all, Daniel, calm and cool as ever, went to see the king and ask for a little more time. Isn’t it interesting that when the sorcerers asked for more time earlier, the king refused, but here, he did not refuse Daniel’s request. Though this portion of Daniel is written in Aramic, the trade language of the region, Daniel still calls his brothers by their Hebrew names. The culture had not changed him. The four young men prayed asking God specifically to show mercy to Daniel and reveal the dream and its interpretation so that not only they, but all the astrologers, enchanters, magicians and sorcerers would not be killed. That very night God disclosed everything to him. Daniel responded with a song of praise acknowledging the greatness of God. 

Read the words of Daniel’s song of praise again noting the verbs associated with God. The hymn begins and ends with words of adoration and in between are the specifics of the praise. Here are some very powerful words for our day and we work through the difficulties in our nations and our world. In Daniel’s exact words: “God controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings (even Nebuchadnezzar!). He gives wisdom to the wise (not fools), knowledge to scholars ( not the ignorant). He reveals and he knows mysteries. Daniel acknowledges the past and praises God for his dealings with his ancestors. He then expresses his deep gratitude to God for revealing the king’s dream and its interpretation. 

Like yesterday’s devotional, we see how God continues to give and interact with his children. Daniel has given us a pattern for our own interaction with God in the midst of unique and interesting times. Realize: 1) God is in control of world events. 2) He set up rulers and removes rulers according to his plans. 3) He gives wisdom to those who are wise enough to ask. 4) He understands everything. 5) Being in God’s hands is the very best place to be, ask Daniel.

Music: “If Thou Will Suffer God to Guide Thee”      Calvin Alumni Singers

Prayer:O merciful God, be Thou now unto me a strong tower of defense, I humbly entreat Thee. Give me grace to await Thy leisure, and patiently to bear what Thou doest unto me; neither doubting or distrusting Thy goodness towards me; for Thou knowest what is good for me better than I do. Therefore do with me in all things what Thou wilt; only arm me, I beseech Thee, with Thine armor, that I may stand fast; above all things, taking to me the shield of faith; praying always that I may refer myself wholly to Thy will, abiding Thy pleasure, and comforting myself in those troubles which it shall please Thee to send me, seeing such troubles are profitable for me; and I am assuredly persuaded that all Thou doest cannot but be well; and unto Thee be all honor and glory. Amen.          ―Prayer Ancient and Modern, p.118