Journey Through The Scriptures


Lesson 3: Nebuchadnezzar’s Humiliation and Belshazzar’s Death

(Scripture to Read: Daniel 4:1–5:31)

We have seen that the most amazing gift God had given Daniel was his ability to interpret dreams and visions. Christian readers of this study will find it interesting that the book of Daniel is included among the Writings, and not the Prophets, in the Jewish canon of Scripture. The reason is that while prophets were those who spoke a message from God for their own generation, Daniel’s visions were set down in writing for future generations. Thus, Daniel is not identified as one of the 55 Jewish prophets listed in the Talmud, the book of interpretations of Scripture. But this does not diminish Daniel’s importance in biblical history.

In chapters 4 and 5, Daniel’s ability to interpret dreams and visions spelled judgment for Nebuchadnezzar, followed by restoration, and utter doom for Belshazzar, a later Babylonian king who showed nothing but contempt for the God of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream involved this great king’s humiliation before God—a dreadful period of madness that apparently lasted seven years. Nebuchadnezzar had been a proud monarch, but he learned a valuable lesson: God is able to humble the proud (4:37). It is unfortunate Belshazzar did not learn this lesson from his ancestor, for the famous handwriting that appeared on the wall of his banquet room spelled his doom. He was killed that very night, and the second kingdom of Daniel’s earlier vision, the Medo-Persian kingdom, conquered Babylon.

Study Questions

  1. Why was Nebuchadnezzar driven from his throne to live like an animal for so long?
  2. Prior to this time, Nebuchadnezzar had made various statements giving honor to the God of Israel. What is different about his report of his experiences in 4:34–37?
  3. What act of pride and defiance did Belshazzar commit during his drunken banquet that seemed to seal his doom?
  4. Why did Belshazzar reward Daniel for such a gloomy interpretation of the handwriting (5:29)?

Something to Think About

Daniel is a shining example of someone who used every gift and ability God had given him for God’s own purposes and glory, regardless of the circumstances. Let us not hesitate to exercise our gifts and abilities for God’s glory and the blessing of others, not allowing fear of circumstances or of others’ criticism to cause us to draw back.