Open Your Bible
Daniel 2:1-24, Psalm 145:1-2, Isaiah 44:6-8
When my husband and I were debating where to attend grad school, I kept one prayer on repeat: “God, please make it abundantly clear where we should go.” I would have paid anything to know we were making the right decision as we logged thousands of miles on our car, traveling from state to state, and weighing pros and cons. Ultimately, God answered our prayer, just about as clearly as we could have hoped, and off to the midwest we went.
But I can count many, many more times in my life when I desperately prayed for a clear answer, and it felt like God met me with quiet and silence. Sometimes, God’s quiet feels empty and leaves me angry or desperate for answers. And sometimes God’s quiet feels like confidence, the kind of stillness that settles over a dark house at night, when you feel safe and at peace, but there is no sound.
The desire for a dream to be interpreted or for a sign to be made clear is everywhere in Scripture. Saul lost his kingship because of it (1 Samuel 13), Gideon tested God in a search for clarity (Judges 6), and even the Pharisees asked Jesus for a clear sign (Matthew 12).
In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar wanted a clear interpretation of his dream, and threatened all the wise men, magicians, seers, and sorcerers with death if they couldn’t provide him with that interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar was so troubled by his disturbing dreams and so desperate for answers, which we see in his willingness to reward or punish those who could potentially unlock it for him.
But no one could—no mystical prophet of the pagan gods, no wise man, no medium. The Chaldeans even declared, “What the king is asking is so difficult that no one can make it known to him except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals” (Daniel 2:11).
But Daniel, a wise man who knew the true and living God who did dwell with His people, had a different response. He called on the name of the Lord, who responded by giving Daniel a vision of both the king’s dream and its interpretation. Then “Daniel praised the God of the heavens” (Daniel 2:19), reciting a true and bold prayer, with promises still true for us today (vv.20–23).
For Nebuchadnezzar, for Daniel, and for us today—only God can unlock the mysteries of wisdom and understanding, because God is the true source of them. God answered Daniel’s prayer with abundant clarity, but He doesn’t always. Whether God writes His answer in the sky or (by our limited human understanding) seems to remain maddeningly silent, we can move forward with confidence and faith. The rest of Daniel’s story will testify to this truth and call us to a deeper knowledge of the God whose answers we can always trust.