The DEEP

Shrewd Syrup

A spoon full of sugar helps.

Daniel 4:19–22

Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you.”

Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!

“The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home—it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.”

Oh my goodness, this is so sugar-coated it’s going to give the king diabetes.

For a moment, Daniel is stuck trying to think how to spin this nightmare. Then Nebuchadnezzar gives him a green light. Since Daniel’s last interpretation prophesied the end of his kingdom, this is permission to drop the hammer.

Even so, Daniel butters him up with, “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!

Then Daniel drenches the first half of the interpretation in syrup. “It is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.

That would have made even the Queen of Hearts swoon.


What Daniel is doing here is not wrong. The Lord told us to be shrewd.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. — Matthew 10:16 (NIV)

Daniel is cleverly meeting Nebuchadnezzar where he is. Paul did that too.

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

       TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: — Acts 17:22–23

We should always try to be as winsome as possible, whether presenting bad news or the good news.


To subscribe to The DEEP click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

All the weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

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.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.