We have here the introduction to Daniel’s declaring the dream, and the interpretation of it.
I. He immediately bespoke the reversing of the sentence against the wise men of Babylon, Dan. 2:24. He went with all speed to Arioch, to tell him that his commission was now superseded: Destroy not the wise men of Babylon. Though there were those of them perhaps that deserved to die, as magicians, by the law of God, yet here that which they stood condemned for was not a crime worth of death or of bonds, and therefore let them not die, and be unjustly destroyed, but let them live, and be justly shamed, as having been nonplussed and unable to do that which a prophet of the Lord could do. Note, Since God shows common kindness to the evil and good, we should do so too, and be ready to save the lives of even bad men, Matt. 5:45. A good man is a common good. To Paul in the ship God gave the souls of all that sailed with him; they were saved for his sake. To Daniel was owing the preservation of all the wise men, who yet rendered not according to the benefit done to them, Dan. 3:8.
II. He offered his service, with great assurance, to go to the king, and tell him his dream and the interpretation of it, and was admitted accordingly, Dan. 2:24, 25. Arioch brought him in haste to the king, hoping to ingratiate himself by introducing Daniel; he pretends he had sought him to interpret the king’s dream, whereas really it was to execute upon him the king’s sentence that he sought him. But courtiers’ business is every way to humour the prince and make their own services acceptable.
III. He contrived as much as might be to reflect shame upon the magicians, and to give honour to God, upon this occasion. The king owned that it was a bold undertaking, and questioned whether he could make it good (Dan. 2:26): Art thou able to make known unto me the dream? What! Such a babe in this knowledge, such a stripling as thou are, wilt thou undertake that which thy seniors despair of doing? The less likely it appeared to the king that Daniel should do this the more God was glorified in enabling him to do it. Note, In transmitting divine revelation to the children of men it has been God’s usual way to make use of the weak and foolish things and persons of the world, and such as were despised and despaired of, to confound the wise and mighty, that the excellency of the power might be of him, 1 Cor. 1:27, 28. Daniel from this takes occasion, 1. To put the king out of conceit with his magicians and soothsayers, whom he had such great expectations from (Dan. 2:27): “This secret they cannot show to the king; it is out of their power; the rules of their art will not reach to it. Therefore let not the king be angry with them for not doing that which they cannot do; but rather despise them, and cast them off, because they cannot do it.” Broughton reads it generally: “This secret no sages, astrologers, enchanters, or entrail-cookers, can show unto the king; let not the king therefore consult them any more.” Note, The experience we have of the inability of all creatures to give us satisfaction should lessen our esteem of them, and lower our expectations from them. They are baffled in their pretensions; we are baffled in our hopes from them. Hitherto they come, and no further; let us therefore say to them, as Job to his friends, Now you are nothing; miserable comforters are you all. 2. To bring him to the knowledge of the one only living and true God, the God whom Daniel worshipped: “Though they cannot find out the secret, let not the king despair of having it found out, for there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets,” Dan. 2:28. Note, The insufficiency of creatures should drive us to the all-sufficiency of the Creator. There is a God in heaven (and it is well for us there is) who can do that for us, and make known that to us, which none on earth can, particularly the secret history of the work of redemption and the secret designs of God’s love to us therein, the mystery which was hidden from ages and generations; divine revelation helps us out where human reason leaves us quite at a loss, and makes known that, not only to kings, but to the poor of this world, which none of the philosophers or politicians of the heathens, with all their oracles and arts of divination to help them, could ever pretend to give us any light into, Rom. 16:25, 26.
IV. He confirmed the king in his opinion that the dream he was thus solicitous to recover the idea of was really well worth enquiring after, that it was of great value and of vast consequence, not a common dream, the idle disport of a ludicrous and luxuriant fancy, which was not worth remembering or telling again, but that it was a divine discovery, a ray of light darted into his mind from the upper world, relating to the great affairs and revolutions of this lower world. God in it made known to the king what should be in the latter days (Dan. 2:28), that is, in the times that were to come, reaching as far as the setting up of Christ’s kingdom in the world, which was to be in the latter days, Heb. 1:1. And again (Dan. 2:29): “The thoughts which came into thy mind were not the repetitions of what had been before, as our dreams usually are”—
Omnia quae sensu volvuntur vota diurno Tempore sopito reddit amica quies-- The sentiments which we indulge throughout the day often mingle with the grateful slumbers of the night.CLAUDIAN. “But they were predictions of what should come to pass hereafter, which he that reveals secrets makes known unto thee; and therefore thou art in the right in taking the hint and pursuing it thus.” Note, Things that are to come to pass hereafter are secret things, which God only can reveal; and what he has revealed of those things, especially with reference to the last days of all, to the end of time, ought to be very seriously and diligently enquired into and considered by every one of us. Some think that the thoughts which are said to have come into the king’s mind upon his bed, what should come to pass hereafter, were his own thoughts when he was awake. Just before he fell asleep, and dreamed this dream, he was musing in his own mind what would be the issue of his growing greatness, what his kingdom would hereafter come to; and so the dream was an answer to those thoughts. What discoveries God intends to make he thus prepares men for.
V. He solemnly professes that he could not pretend to have merited from God the favour of this discovery, or to have obtained it by any sagacity of his own (Dan. 2:30): “But, as for me, this secret is not found out by me, but is revealed to me, and that not for any wisdom that I have more than any living, to qualify me for the receiving of such a discovery.” Note, It well becomes those whom God has highly favoured and honoured to be very humble and low in their own eyes, to lay aside all opinion of their own wisdom and worthiness, that God alone may have all the praise of the good they are, and have, and do, and that all may be attributed to the freeness of his good-will towards them and the fulness of his good work in them. The secret was made known to him not for his own sake, but, 1. For the sake of his people, for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, that is, for the sake of his brethren and companions in tribulation, who had by their prayers helped him to obtain this discovery, and so might be said to make known the interpretation—that their lives might be spared, that they might come into favour and be preferred, and all the people of the Jews might fare the better, in their captivity, for their sakes. Note, Humble men will be always ready to think that what God does for them and by them is more for the sake of others than for their own. 2. For the sake of his prince; and some read the former clause in this sense, “Not for any wisdom of mine, but that the king may know the interpretation, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart, that thou mightest have satisfaction given thee as to what thou wast before considering, and thereby instruction given thee how to behave towards the church of God.” God revealed this thing to Daniel that he might make it known to the king. Prophets receive that they may give, that the discoveries made to them may not be lodged with themselves, but communicated to the persons that are concerned.