My first thought when reading Daniel Chapter 2 is that King Nebuchadnezzar was mentally ill. Scripture says, “His mind was troubled and he could not sleep” mostly because he had difficult dreams. As a therapist, I quickly thought, “I wonder what other symptoms he had, and I wonder what a biopsychosocial evaluation would show?”
With a desire to complete a thorough evaluation, I read ahead to Chapter 4. I saw that he was afraid, and had visions and dreams, that terrified him. Today, I would say, that he exhibited nightmares and hallucinations. Then I saw in Daniel 2 that he summoned magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what his dreams meant. But when they asked him to tell the dream, he refused. He clearly showed symptoms of oppositional defiance.
He replied with “If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have to cut you into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell the dream and explain it, you will received from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”
My God! Not only did he struggle with potential Schizophrenia, but he also showed intense aggression, violent behavior and characteristics of a Psychopath! Then later on, I also learned, that he exhibited abundant narcissism!
Eventually he had a complete mental breakdown and withdrew from humans to become an ox and live with the oxen!
If this were to happen today, in these modern days of mental illness and psychiatric disorders, I would definitely need to refer him to a Crisis Stabilization Unit to see a Psychiatrist so that he could get on psychotropic medication.
But in Daniel 4, verse 34, it says, “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towards heaven, and my sanity was restored.”
Holy shit! Can you imagine it? A repentant heart who looks to God for hope? In an instant of being convicted, he experienced a complete change of mindset!
I wonder, "How did Nebuchadnezzar know to do this?" He did not have access to scripture!
Daniel 2 says, “When the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers told him it was too difficult to reveal the dream to him, the King became furious and ordered their execution.” Not only them, but all the wise men of Babylon!
Can you believe it? One word wrong, and everyone’s gone!
“So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.” But thank God! When Daniel found out, he went to the king and asked for permission to interpret the dream.
But before he did, he turned to his friends and asked them to pray for him.
“He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning the mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed.”
During the night, the mystery was revealed in a vision, then Daniel praised the God of heaven.
When he got up, he asked to see the king, and was identified as “the man exiled from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”
When the king asked if Daniel could reveal and interpret the dream, Daniel said, “No wise man, enchanter, magicians or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.”
Then Daniel began to speak,
“As Your Majesty was lying there, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.”
Then Daniel explained he only knows, because the Lord his God told him so.
Then Daniel described the statue he saw that was enormous and awesome in appearance. “The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron and its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.”
Then Daniel shared that he saw Nebuchadnezzar nearby, watching a stone being cut from the rock - and then thrown at the statue’s foot. All the pieces came tumbling down, and became like chaff on the threshing ground. And after that, the wind swept it away without even leaving a trace.
“But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”
Amen and Halleluiah! Daniel proceeded to reaffirm Nebuchadnezzar! He declared that the God of heaven had given Nebuchadnezzar power and dominion.
Daniel told the king that he represented the head of gold, and then he proceeded to explain the kingdoms of silver and bronze. Daniel then said that the iron legs represented a kingdom that would break and crush everything.
Then he explained that the Last Kingdom would come when the world saw a divided nation, but that would lead to the Glory Days!
Then Daniel proceeded to say, “And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”
“In that time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands – a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.” Daniel 2:44-45
That is when Daniel put a stamp on his interpretation, and sent it with love to Nebuchadnezzar.
He said, “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is TRUE and its interpretation is TRUSTWORTHY.”
This is when the king fell prostrate before Daniel, and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him.
The king said, “Surely YOUR GOD is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
It was then that the king found favor with Daniel, and his God – but unfortunately, as we will see in the rest of the story, Nebuchadnezzar’s pride had not yet left him.
So, in the end, my professional opinion is this – King Nebuchadnezzar was completely fucked! He had every mental illness known to mankind, and he searched for relief from demonic spirits who came through false men.
That is, until he met Daniel.
God enabled Daniel to see visions and dreams, and gave him the ability to understand their meanings. Daniel had access to God’s wisdom and was able to share that with Nebuchadnezzar.
But while the king was given some relief, his pride kept him from fully experiencing God. He was not any different from other men, like King Saul who found relief only when David played the harp for him.
But in the end, we see the king experiencing sanity. My guess it’s because Daniel planted the seed, that when you are mentally broken and incomplete, look to the God of heaven for your sanity!