Verses 46–49

One might have expected that when Nebuchadnezzar was contriving to make his own kingdom everlasting he would be enraged at Daniel, who foretold the fall of it and that another kingdom of another nature should be the everlasting kingdom; but, instead of resenting it as an affront, he received it as an oracle, and here we are told what the expressions were of the impressions it made upon him. 1. He was ready to look upon Daniel as a little god. Though he saw him to be a man, yet from this wonderful discovery which he had made both of his secret thoughts, in telling him the dream, and of things to come, in telling him the interpretation of it, he concluded that he had certainly a divinity lodged in him, worthy his adoration; and therefore he fell upon his face and worshipped Daniel, Dan. 2:46. It was the custom of the country by prostration to give honour to kings, because they have something of a divine power in them (I have said, You are gods); and therefore this king, who had often received such veneration from others, now paid the like to Daniel, whom he supposed to have in him a divine knowledge, which he was so struck with an admiration of that he could not contain himself, but forgot both that Daniel was a man and that himself was a king. Thus did God magnify divine revelation and make it honourable, extorting from a proud potentate such a veneration but for one glimpse of it. He worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation to him, and burn incense. Herein he cannot be justified, but may in some measure be excused, when Cornelius was thus ready to worship Peter, and John the angel, who both knew better. But, though it is not here mentioned, yet we have reason to think that Daniel refused these honours that he paid him, and said, as Peter to Cornelius, Stand up, I myself also am a man, or, as the angel to St. John, See thou do it not; for it is not said that the oblation was offered unto him, though the king commanded it, or rather said it, for so the word is. He said, in his haste, Let an oblation be offered to him. And that Daniel did say something to him which turned his eyes and thoughts another way is intimated in what follows (Dan. 2:47), The king answered Daniel. Note, It is possible for those to express a great honour for the ministers of God’s word who yet have no true love for the word. Herod feared John, and heard him gladly, and yet went on in his sins, Mark 6:20. 2. He readily acknowledged the God of Daniel to be the great God, the true God, the only living and true God. If Daniel will not suffer himself to be worshipped, he will (as Daniel, it is likely, directed him) worship God, by confessing (Dan. 2:47), Of a truth your God is a God of gods, such a God as there is no other, above all gods in dignity, over all gods in dominion. He is a Lord of kings, from whom they derive their power and to whom they are accountable; and he is both a discoverer and a revealer of secrets; what is most secret he sees and can reveal, and what he has revealed is what was secret and which none but himself could reveal, 1 Cor. 2:10. 3. He preferred Daniel, made him a great man, Dan. 2:48. God made him a great man indeed when he took him into communion with himself, a greater man than Nebuchadnezzar could make him; but, because God had magnified him, therefore the king magnified him. Does wealth make men great? The king gave him many great gifts; and he had no reason to refuse them, when they all put him into so much the greater capacity of doing good to his brethren in captivity. These gifts were grateful returns for the good services he had done, and not aimed at, nor bargained for, by him, as the rewards of divination were by Balaam. Does power make a man great? He made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, which no doubt had great influence upon the other provinces; he made him likewise chancellor of the university, chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon, to instruct those whom he had thus outdone; and, since they could not do what the king would have them do, they shall be obliged to do what Daniel would have them do. Thus it is fit that the fool should be servant to the wise in heart. Seeing Daniel could reveal this secret (Dan. 2:47), the king thus advanced him. Note, It is the wisdom of princes to advance and employ those who receive divine revelation, and are much conversant with it, who, as Daniel here, show themselves to be well acquainted with the kingdom of heaven. Joseph, like Daniel here, was advanced in the court of the king of Egypt for his interpreting his dreams; and he called him Zaphnath-paaneah—a revealer of secrets, as the king of Babylon here calls Daniel; so that the preambles to their patents of honour are the same—for, and in consideration of, their good services done to the crown in revealing secrets. 4. He preferred his companions for his sake, and upon his special instance and request, Dan. 2:49. Daniel himself sat in the gate of the king, as president of the council, chief-justice, or prime-minister of state, or perhaps chamberlain of the household; but he used his interest for his friends as became a good man, and procured places in the government for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Those that helped him with their prayers shall share with him in his honours, such a grateful sense had he even of that service. The preferring of them would be a great stay and help to Daniel in his place and business. And these pious Jews, being thus preferred in Babylon, had great opportunity of serving their brethren in captivity, and of doing them many good offices, which no doubt they were ready to do. Thus, sometimes, before God brings his people into trouble, he prepares it, that it may be easy to them.