Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Illustration from Dalziel's Bible Gallery, Edward Poynter, 1863-5
Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
— Daniel 2:20-22
King Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream. Dreams were considered to be predictions of future events, but needed interpretation, so Nebuchadnezzar calls his wise men forth, who, quite reasonably, ask him to tell them the dream so they may interpret it. Quite oddly Nebuchadnezzar refuses to do so, insisting they tell him his dream, and then offer the interpretation. Failure to do so, insists the king, will result in the death of all the wise men. Of course, no one is able to do this, so an edict is issued that all advisors shall be put to death. By this time Daniel and his friends had risen in status to be the king's advisors, so this edict included them too.
Clearly Nebuchadnezzar has little trust for the wisdom of his advisors, considering them all as charlatans. He figures that if they are genuine soothsayers they'll as easily be able to tell him the dream as to explain it. It's not a bad test, under the circumstances, and Nebuchadnezzar was probably right in his assumption that they were just palace freeloaders with no real ability. But then he is surprised. Daniel, on hearing of his own and his friends' impending death prays to God to know the dream, a request God grants. In gratitude Daniel utters the prayer quoted here, which continues and concludes with I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king's matter.1
This prayer is a beautiful example of reverence and faith. Daniel praises God for his wisdom and communication—it is not enough for God to know the dream Himself, he must communicate it for the knowledge to be useful. This He does, and for this Daniel is in awe. Daniel trusts completely that the dream he learns is the dream indeed. There is never any doubt. Daniel doesn't need to share the dream with the king, to test out if in fact it is the right dream before saying thank you to God. He knows, before testing that it must be, and is, the answer. This is faith.
The story tells us of the unreasonableness and oppression of kings, and the power of faith to rise above it. An important message of hope for those suffering under the cruelty of Antiochus Epiphanes in the 2nd century BC. You are Daniel, it seems to say, and God is with you. Even today, we'll find that whatever difficulties we face can be right-sized if we turn to God and seek to understand. With faith, we will discover a light in our darkness to guide us.
1 Daniel 2:23