After the Hebrew people had been taken captive in Babylon (ancient Babel and modern-day Iraq), King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream that kept him awake at night. In hope of sleep the king called magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers to tell him the meaning of this dream, but no one could. Instead, the not-so-wise men admitted that no one on earth could possibly do what the king asked. No one could possibly reveal the meaning of the dream except gods, who do not lower themselves to live on earth. This made the king so angry, however, that he ordered every supposedly wise person in the kingdom to be put to death!
When Daniel (known to the king by his Babylonian name Belteshazzar) heard of this predicament, he asked the king to give him a little time for the meaning of the dream to become clear. Then, hurrying home, he explained the situation to his Hebrew friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, also known by their Babylonian names of Hananiah, Mishal, and Azarish. Daniel urged his friends to plead for mercy from the God of heaven, so they would not be condemned to die nor would the wise men of Babylon.
Then during the night, the mystery was revealed. During the night, a vision came to Daniel. During the night, Daniel prayed to the God of heaven, praised the God of heaven, and said:
Praise be to the Name of God for ever and ever
for wisdom and power belong only to Him.
God alone can change times and seasons.
God alone can depose and raise up leaders and kings.
God alone can give wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
The God of Heaven reveals deep things
and knows what hides in the darkness,
for with God alone, all light dwells.
And so I thank You and praise You,
O God of my ancestors
for You have given me wisdom and power
and made known to me what we have asked
for You alone know the dream of kings.
Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had selected to slay the wise men of Babylon, and said, “Do not kill the wisdom of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will decipher his dream.”
So Arioch took Daniel to the king and said, “I found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell what dreams mean.”
“Belteshazzar,” the king said, “Are you able to tell what came in my dream. Are you able to tell and interpret?”
Daniel replied, “No wise man, no enchanter, no magician, no diviner can explain the mystery the king has seen, but God in heaven reveals mysteries."
Dreams and visions came to your mind as you lay in your bed, and these dreams and visions show days ahead – days in a mystery revealed now to me, not from my wisdom, but my God, the Revealer of Mysteries, Who wants you to know what will happen, Who wants you to know God of heaven, Who wants you to understand what turns and turns and awakens your mind.
© 2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, prayer-a-phrase of today’s Bible reading from Daniel 2:17-30