Daniel 4:17 Index
"This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whosoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."
Research Material

"...decree of the watchers..." (Psalm 103:15-16; 113:19)

  • The plural presupposes the existence of a heavenly council or assembly. (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6). (4BC 790)

"...that the living may know..."

  • This sentence reveals the divine purpose in the execution of the order. God's dealings with Babylon and its king were to be an illustration to other nations and their kings of the results of accepting or rejecting the divine plan with respect to nations. (4BC 790)

"...the most High ruleth..."

  • In the affairs of nations God is ever "silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will" (Ed 173). At times, as with the call of Abraham, He ordains a series of events designed to demonstrate the wisdom of His ways. Again, as in the antediluvian world, He permits evil to run its course and provide an example of the folly of opposition to right principles. But eventually, as in the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt, He intervenes lest the forces of evil overcome His agencies for the salvation of the world. Whether God ordains, permits, or intervenes, "the complicated play of human events is under divine control" and an "overruling purpose has manifestly been at work throughout the ages" (PK 536, 535; Ed 174; Romans 13:1). (4BC 790)
  • "To every nation... God has assigned a place in His great plan" and has given an opportunity to "fulfil the purpose of the 'Watcher and the Holy One'" (Ed 178, 177). In the divine economy the function of government is to protect and upbuild the nation, to provide its people with the opportunity of achieving the Creator's purpose for them, and to permit other nations to do the same (Ed 175) -- in order that all men "should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him" (Acts 17:27). (4BC 790-791)
  • A nation is strong in proportion to the fidelity with which it fulfills God's purpose for it; its success depends upon its use of the power entrusted to it; its compliance with the divine principles is always the measure of its prosperity; and its destiny is determined by the choices its leaders and people make with respect to these principles (Ed 175, 174, 177, 178; PP 536). God imparts wisdom and power that will keep strong the nations that remain faithful to Him, but abandons those that ascribe their glory to human achievement and act independently of Him (PK 501). (4BC 791)
  • Men "who refuse to submit to the government of God are wholly unfitted to govern themselves" (GC 584). When, instead of being a protector of men, a nation becomes a proud and cruel oppressor, its fall is inevitable (Ed 176). As the nations one after another have rejected God's principles their glory has faded, their power departed, and their place [has] been occupied by others (Ed 178, 177). "All are by their own choice deciding their destiny," and in rejecting God's principles accomplishing their own ruin (Ed 178, 177). "The complicated play of human events is under divine control. Amidst the strife and tumult of nations, He that sitteth above the cherubim still guides the affairs of earth: and overrules "all for the accomplishment of His purposes" (ED 178). (4BC 791)
  • In his former dream he was shown the shortness of his kingdom and given proof of the decline of the empire. Had he lived in harmony with what was then revealed to him, the experience about to come would have been avoided. The parting words of the angel as he left Nebuchadnezzar, "This matter is by the decree of the watchers... to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whosoever He will." More than that, "He setteth up over it the basest of men." Because a man holds a position, it does not signify that he is better than others. (SNH 61-62)
  • The message that "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" is repeated in Romans 13, where Paul says: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake." (Romans 13:1-5).... Earnest Christians sometimes find themselves in a situation where they feel that obedience to a particular state regulation would be a "violation of conscience." In the trials that are to characterize the last days, such situations will increase. And Acts 5:29 says, "We ought to obey God rather than man." (MM 67)
  • The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. All kings, all nations, are His, under His rule and government. His resources are infinite. The wise man declares, “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. (Proverbs 21:1). Those upon whose actions hang the destinies of nations, are watched over with a vigilance that knows no relaxation by Him who “giveth salvation unto kings” (Psalms 144:10), to whom belong “the shields of the earth” (Psalms 47:9). (The Review and Herald article "The Life of Daniel an Illustration of True Sanctification" March 28, 1907).
  • ...God's servants are not to trust to themselves in this great emergency. In the visions given to Isaiah, to Ezekiel, and to John we see how closely heaven is connected with the events taking place upon the earth and how great is the care of God for those who are loyal to Him. The world is not without a ruler. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations, as well as the concerns of His church, in His own charge. (5T 753)
  • In the great closing work we shall meet with perplexities that we know not how to deal with, but let us not forget that the three great powers of heaven are working, that a divine hand is on the wheel, and that God will bring His purposes to pass. (MS 118, 1902, p. 4-5, Christ's Method of Imparting Truth, October 6, 1902) (Ev 65)
  • In the great closing work we shall meet with perplexities that we know not how to deal with; but let us not forget that the three great powers of heaven are working, that a divine hand is on the wheel, and that God will bring His promises to pass. He will gather from the world a people who will serve Him in righteousness. (8T 254)
  • When Satan declared to Christ, The kingdom and glory of the world are delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it, he stated what was true only in part, and he declared it to serve his own purpose of deception. Satan's dominion was that wrested from Adam, but Adam was the vicegerent of the Creator. His was not an independent rule. The earth is God's, and He has committed all things to His Son. Adam was to reign subject to Christ. When Adam betrayed his sovereignty into Satan's hands, Christ still remained the rightful King. Thus the Lord had said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will.” (Daniel 4:17). Satan can exercise his usurped authority only as God permits. (DA 129-130)
  • The history of nations speaks to us today. To every nation and to every individual God has assigned a place in His great plan. Today men and nations are being tested by the plummet in the hand of Him who makes no mistake. All are by their own choice deciding their destiny, and God is overruling all for the accomplishment of His purposes.... The prophecies which the great I AM has given in His word, uniting link after link in the chain of events, from eternity in the past to eternity in the future, tell us where we are today in the procession of the ages and what may be expected in the time to come. All that prophecy has foretold as coming to pass, until the present time, has been traced on the pages of history, and we may be assured that all which is yet to come will be fulfilled in its order.... Today the signs of the times declare that we are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Everything in our world is in agitation. Before our eyes is fulfilling the Saviour's prophecy of the events to precede His coming: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.... Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” (Matthew 24:6, 7). (PK 536-537)