Daniel 2:1–11 (ESV)
In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm—if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”
This is like the newspaper ad that read simply, “Psychic wanted. You’ll know who to call.”
Nebuchadnezzar’s interview with the four Hebrews has made him cynical. He’s mocking the psychics. He’s sick of their baloney and has decided to find out if any of them are legit. They know that they’re phonies, and their pleading is pathetic. “O king, live forever!”
Their excuses give away the game. They’re conceding that their professions mean nothing when they say, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand.”
The magic arts are not supposed to be about simple, practical wisdom such as, “A stitch in time saves nine.” They’re supposed to be about discerning things beyond normal human perception. That’s why Joseph could claim to know unseen things when he said, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” (Genesis 44:15, ESV)
But Nebuchadnezzar isn’t really interested in revealing how phony these guys are.
He desperately needs to understand these terrible nightmares.
The phonies unwittingly set the stage for the next step in Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion when they say, “The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”
Their view is polytheistic but otherwise the exact truth that Daniel will demonstrate.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.