Daniel 2:30

30. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.)

30. Et ego, 1 non in sapientia quae sit in me prae cunctis viventibus, arcanum hoc patefactum est mihi; 2 sed ut interpretationem regi exponerem, et cogitationes cordis tui cognosceres.


Here Daniel meets an objection which Nebuchadnezzar might make, -- If God alone can reveal secrets, how, I pray thee, canst thou, a mere mortal, do it? Daniel anticipates this, and transfers the whole glory to God, and ingenuously confesses that he has no interpretation of his own to offer, but represents himself as led forward by God's hand to be its interpreter; and as having nothing by his own natural talents, but acting as God pleased to appoint him his servant for this office, and-as using his assistance. This secret, then, says he, has been made known to me. By these words he sufficiently declares, how his undertaking to interpret the dream was God's peculiar gift. But he more clearly expresses this gift to be supernatural, as it is called, by saying, not in the wisdom which belongs to me. For if Daniel had surpassed the whole world in intelligence, yet he could never divine what; the king of Babylon had dreamt! He excelled, indeed, in superior abilities and learning, and was endowed, as we have said, with remarkable gifts; yet; he could never have obtained this power which he acquired from God through prayer, (I repeat it; again,)through his own study or industry, or any human exertions.

We observe how Daniel here carefully excludes, not only what men foolishly claim as their own, but; also what God naturally confers; since we know the profane to be endowed with singular talents, and other eminent faculties; and these are called natural, since God desires his gracious gifts to shine forth in the human race by such examples as these. But while Daniel acknowledges himself endowed with no common powers, through the good pleasure and discipline of God, though he confesses this, I say, yet he places this revelation on a higher footing. We observe also how the gifts of the Spirit mutually differ, because Daniel acted in a kind of twofold capacity with regard to the endowments with which it pleased God to adorn him. First of all, he made rapid progress in all sciences, and flourished much in intellectual quickness, and we have already clearly shewn this to be, owing to the mere liberality of God. This liberality puts all things in their proper order, while it shews God's singular favor in the explanation of the dream.

This secret, then, was not made known to me on account of any wisdom in me beyond the rest of mankind. Daniel does not affirm himself to be superior to all men in wisdom, as some falsely twist these words, but he leaves this in doubt by saying, This ought not to be ascribed to wisdom, for if I were the acutest of all men, all my shrewdness would avail me nothing and, again, if I were the rudest idiot, still it is God who uses me as his servant, in interpreting the dream to you. You must not, therefore, expect anything human from me, but you must receive what I say to you, because I am the instrument of God's Spirit, just as if I had come down from heaven. This is the simple sense of the words. Hence we may learn to ascribe the praise to God alone, to whom it is due; for it is his peculiar office to illuminate our minds, so that we may comprehend heavenly mysteries. For although we are naturally endued with the greatest acuteness, which is also his gift, yet we may call it a limited endowment, as it does not reach to the heavens. Let us learn, then, to leave his own to God, as we are admonished by this expression of Daniel.

He afterwards adds, But that I may make known to the king the interpretation, and thou mayest know the thoughts of thy heart. Daniel uses the plural number, but indefinitely; as if he had said, God has left thee indeed hitherto in suspense; but yet he did not inspire thee with this dream in vain. These flyings, therefore, are mutually united, namely, -- God has revealed to thee this secret, and has appointed me his interpreter. Thus we perceive Daniel's meaning. For Nebuchadnezzar might object, Why does God torment me thus? What is the meaning of my perplexity; -- first I dream, and then my dream escapes me, and its interpretation is unknown to me? Lest, therefore, Nebuchadnezzar should thus argue with God, Daniel here anticipates him, and shows how neither the dream nor the vision occurred in vain; but God now grants what was there wanting, namely, the return of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar's memory, and at the same time his acknowledgment of its purport, and the reason of its being sent to him.


Grant, Almighty God, since thou desirest us to differ from the brutes, and hence didst impress our minds with the light of intellect, -- Grant, I pray thee, that we may learn to acknowledge and to magnify this singular favor, and may we exercise ourselves in the knowledge of those things which induce us to reverence thy sovereignty. Besides this, may we distinguish between that common sense which thou hast bestowed upon us, and the illumination of thy Spirit, and the gift of faith, that thou alone mayest be glorified by our being grafted by faith into the body of thine only-begotten Son. We entreat also from thee further progress and increase of the same faith, until at length thou bring us to the full manifestation of light. Then, being like thee, we shall behold thy glory face to face, and enjoy the same in Christ our Lord. -- Amen.

Lecture Ninth

1 That is, to me. -- Calvin.

2 The repetition is superfluous, but it does not obscure the sense. -- Calvin