Daniel was very troubled by the king’s second dream and did not say anything for a short time before he spoke up. He was fully aware that that judgment had fallen on King Nebuchadnezzar. But the king told Daniel not to let the dream trouble him, so he went ahead and gave his interpretation.
The tree in the dream is symbolic of Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom. He would become like an animal living in the field eating grass like cattle. This judgment would last “seven times” (seven years). It is during this time period of judgment that the king’s empire would collapse.
Daniel explained that this judgment was made on the king so that he would come to understand that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and He gives the power to rule to the men He chooses. Daniel also added that the stump meant Nebuchadnezzar would survive the judgment and once again be ruler of Babylon. He urged Nebuchadnezzar to stop sinning and show compassion and mercy to the poor. The king’s judgment would not be as severe as Daniel saw in his dream if the king would do this. It is unknown exactly what the king was precisely guilty of but it is evident that he was full of pride and greatly oppressed the poor.
“Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!
The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their homeâ€”it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.
And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him’; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.
And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”