Bible Lesson: Daniel 4 — “God Is Sovereign”


Online Bible Study
“God Is Sovereign” Daniel 4


How to participate (if possible do this with others so that you can have some Spirit led discussion. If you are alone, it would be a good idea to write out your answer to the questions):

A. Pray and ask God to illuminate the Scripture for application in your life.

B. Read the selected text.

C. Click the streaming audio link. Pause the audio to give yourself time to reflect on any questions. 
[If you prefer you can read the lesson outline below. Just be aware it’s just a lesson plan and not written as an essay]

D. Email or text me if you have questions and/or comments and I will try to post them and my replies in the space below.

E. Do the homework over the coming week.


Lesson #6 Daniel 4 “God Is Sovereign” 


Intro. Did you do the homework and consider how things in your life compete with God for your attention, concern and affection? It’s hard to do that exercise and not see things that need correction. I would love to hear any stories of how God might have communicated with you about any idols in your life.


  1. Daniel 4 begins at the end, with  King Nebuchadnezzar saying what he has learned. This chapter is written from his point of view! Some things to note:
    1. The opening of the decree contrasts from the one issued to worship the golden image
    2. What differences do you notice between Daniel 3:4-6 and Daniel 4:1-3? 
      1. “You are commanded” vs “Peace be multiplied to you!”
      2. The first draws attention to Nebuchadnezzar and his idol and the second draws attention to “the Most High God”
      3. The first sounds proud and vain, the second sounds humble
      4. The first has a threat and the second shares a blessing
      5. Do you think Nebuchadnezzar has become a true believer? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
  2. Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream
    1. This profoundly wealthy and powerful emperor is going to be taught an important lesson. One that we ought to receive ourselves.
    2. Like with his first dream the home team of advisors could not explain the meaning of the dream
      1. Most dreams are rooted in emotions and relational dynamics
      2. Sometimes we get God dreams. Gifts to understand or change
      3. There are several examples in the Bible of people having dreams and visions
      4. Nebuchadnezzar’s is alarming.
      5. We know that fear can be a bad thing: controlling, dominating, tormenting,
      6. But discuss how fearful things can benefit us? Can you think of an example of where fear helped you?
        1. Fear can inform our decisions
        2. Recognizing a truth can be a frightening experience, but it can lead to change
        3. Nebuchadnezzar has something to be afraid of
  3. Daniel enters the scene
    1. He’s been renamed: “Belteshazzar after the name of my god”
    2. Is this lingering evidence of his pagan life or a sign that Nebuchadnezzar still sees the God of Israel as still just one of many?
    3. The king respects Daniel and recognizes “the spirit of the holy gods is in you”
    4. The dream is told
      1. A great tree reaching to heaven and visible from everywhere on earth
      2. Vs 13b “”Behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven.”
        1. An angel? Pre-incarnate Christ? We are not told. He just knows that this being is from heaven
      3. The decree: chop down the tree, but leave the stump, bind it with iron and bronze and leave it in the field then the tense changes from a tree to a man
        1. But first what is greater the soil that supported the tree or the tree?
          1. This is a lesson in humility. There would be no tree without the soil “tender grass of the field.”
          2. Other than size and hardness there is little difference between a tree and a grass stem
        2. “Let him be wet with the dew of heaven” dew is a blessing for the field but people live in shelter from it
        3. “Seven periods of time” usually understood as years but could be months, or decades or any length of time.
      4. Even though the watcher explains the source and purpose of the decree the King still needs Daniel to interpret it
        1. Look at verse 4:17 Discuss these questions: who decreed the sentence? Who made the decision/judgement? And for what purpose
          1. The decision and sentence could be different ways of saying the same thing.
          2. Likewise “watchers” and “holy ones” could also be parallels
          3. But if we take it literally then the “holy ones” which I would consider the Triune Godhead issued a judgment and God’s divine council of holy angels decreed a sentence.
          4. Whoever these beings are, we know that them are executing the will of God. In verse 24 Daniel explains, “this is a decree of the Most High”
          5. The purpose is stated plainly in verse 17, “to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will and sets over it the lowliest of men”
  4. Bad news
    1. Daniel has to be the one to say, “This applies to you.”
    2. Good news: temporary
    3. More good news: opportunity to repent
      1. Discuss how people respond to God’s invitations to repent? Give some Biblical examples
        1. The nation of Israel was invited to repent before the exile
        2. People want the pleasures of their sin but not its consequences
        3. Repentance or not is a matter of the heart
    4. Verses 28-33 are no long first person narrative. We are told what happened to Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps he didn’t remember or was too humiliated to tell.
    5. He boasts in himself and the decree is executed
  5. Hope
    1. He stays insane until a critical transition. What happened? 
      1. The term of seven times ended AND “I…lifted my eyes to heaven” vs 34
      2. How does this relate to the purpose of the dream found in verses 17 and summarized by Daniel in verse 25?
        1. This truth, God is sovereign over all human government(s) and over the people in charge, is a lesson for all humanity and for king Nebuchadnezzar specifically
        2. Do you believe that? What do you act like you believe?
  6. God is Sovereign
    1. God deserves to be blessed and praised and honored
    2. God’s dominion has no beginning or end
    3. He has no need to pass on His dominion to another
    4. All the world could line up against God and God would still be in control
    5. God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven
      1. So, does that mean God causes sin and suffering and death? No, rather God has His way regardless of them.
    6. No one can stop  God
    7. God answers to no one.
    8. Do you think this experience helped Nebuchanezzar be a better king? What does understanding the sovereignty of God and our own humble place in relation to Him have to do with how we lead/rule/influence?


Homework. This will likely be our last online Bible Study as we are gradually resuming services at church. I would love to hear from you about these lessons. Did they help? Are there ways to make them more beneficial? Any input would be appreciated.

1. Look back over your notes or thoughts about these lessons. Perhaps even listen to an audio recording of Daniel 1 through 4 and consider the things God is showing us about fear, suffering, humility and control.

2. Pray for our leaders to make wise choices and yield willingly and humbly to God’s direction.


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