King Nebuchadnezzar has a troubling dream. He orders his wisemen and magicians to explain to him what the dream meant. His wisemen ask him what he dreamt, but Nebuchadnezzar demands they first tell him what he dreamt and then interpret it. The wisemen explain they cannot do this, only a god could, so Nebuchadnezzar orders that all of his wisemen be killed. Daniel, who belongs to this group, learns of the decree, and prays to God to give him understanding of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. God reveals the king’s dream to Daniel, and Daniel blesses and praises God. He goes to the king, and tells him he knows his dream and the interpretation, but makes clear over and over again that it is the God of heaven who gave Daniel this knowledge. Daniel has no power or gift of his own; God has given him understanding.
He describes the king’s dream exactly how it happened, and then explains it. The dream was of a great statue of valuable metals: a golden head, silver chest and arms, bronze belly and thighs, iron legs, and iron-clay feet. A stone is thrown by an invisible force outside of the statue; it crushes the statue to bits. Then the stone grows into a great mountain that covers the entire earth.
The interpretation: the statue represents earthly kingdoms. The golden head is Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, ruler over all for the present. An inferior kingdom (silver chest/arms, Medo-Persia) will replace Babylon. A third kingdom (bronze belly/thighs, Greece) will replace that one. A violent, destructive fourth kingdom (iron legs, iron-clay feet, Rome) will come after that one, but it will crumble over time. The rock that crushes the statue is thrown by God, who will destroy these manmade kingdoms and replace it with His own kingdom, which will endure forever.
King Nebuchadnezzar is amazed. He pays respect to Daniel and rewards him. The king recognizes God as the God of gods, Lord of lords, who reveals secrets. Daniel is promoted over the other wisemen, and made a ruler over the province of Babylon. He asks that his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego also be promoted with him. The king grants this request.
God turns a difficult circumstance (the threat of death) into great blessings for those who follow Him faithfully (Daniel).