Care To Be a Daniel?

In my Baptist Sunday school, we sang a song called “Dare To Be a Daniel.” It was all about taking a stand and standing alone. Daniel showed great gumption when he stood alone (or with his three friends) against the pervasive perversity of Babylon. He dared!

But Daniel also cared, and sometimes that’s even harder. I’ve already expressed some astonishment at Daniel’s reaction to the king’s dream about the tree, namely, that he didn’t silently cheer about the monarch’s impending demise. But Daniel is even better than that. He actually cares a lot about – and for – this king, in spite of who and what he is.

I’ve got two blog posts to prove this to you. Here’s the first.

When Daniel interprets the dream for the king, he holds back. He doesn’t tell all, and that is what shows us how much he cared.

Take the time to work through the dream and interpretation with me. In roman font below is the dream, as reported by Nebuchadnezzar. Interspersed in italics is the dream and interpretation, as given by Daniel after the king finished. You’ll see that Daniel pretty much works image by image through the dream…except when he doesn’t.

Neb: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. 1Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. (Dan 4:10–12, ESV)

Dan: The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived— it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. (Dan 4:20–22)

Neb: I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. He proclaimed aloud and said thus: Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. (Dan 4:13–15)

Dan: And because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. (Dan 4:23)

Neb: Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth; and let seven periods of time pass over him. (Dan 4:15–16)

Dan: and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him. (Dan 4:24)

this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. (Dan 4:24–26)

Did you notice anything? Let me help. Below I’ve copied the most interesting section – where Daniel leaves out a key detail in his telling and his interpretation. I’ve underlined the detail in the king’s report – and then I’ve put it in brackets where it would have gone in Daniel’s version, if he had included it:

Neb: Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. (Dan 4:15–16)

Dan: and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, [Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him] till seven periods of time pass over him (Dan 4:24)

this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, [Your mind will be changed from a man’s, and beast’s mind will be given to you] and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. (Dan 4:24–26)

Daniel doesn’t repeat back to the king the business about him going barking mad. He leaves it out. The text doesn’t tell us why Daniel skipped over this detail, but I have a theory. I’m pretty sure the king gets the drift. He knows what the dream means – every detail. I think Daniel omits the most painful part of the dream and interpretation because he knows there’s no good reason to say it out loud. He spares the king his last shred of dignity – his humanity.

I’ve never faced a situation like Daniel did, but I can think of ways I have dehumanized people in the last week, robbed them of the dignity they deserve in my thoughts and words  just because they are human. Just because they bear that remarkable, divine image.

Care to be a Daniel?

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About wendywidder

For LOVE of the WORD
This entry was posted in Daniel 4, The Book of Daniel. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Care To Be a Daniel?

  1. Nancy Ho says:

    Thank you so much for writing. Please don’t stop. I look forward to it very much.

  2. Pingback: Prophets, Pride, and Pay-Up Chocolate | for LOVE of the WORD

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