by Henry Morris, Ph.D.
“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 whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Daniel 4:17)
Who are these mysterious “watchers” who are so concerned that we know that “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1), sometimes even including the “basest of men?” They are mentioned in the Bible only here in the fourth chapter of Daniel (see also vv. 13, 23), all three times evidently synonymous with “the holy ones,” beings who come down from heaven. Such phrases could apply only to angels, created to serve the Lord and the “heirs of salvation” (Psalm 103:20; Hebrews 1:14).
The word is used here in reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s vision and period of insanity. Although it is used nowhere else in the Bible, it occurs frequently in such apocryphal books as “Jubilees” and “Enoch,” where it refers both to God’s holy angels and to the fallen angels, who have direct interest in people on Earth as they “watch” them—even on occasion directly controlling events that affect them.
In any case, the Bible does indicate that “the angels desire to look into” the outworking of the gospel in the hearts of men (1 Peter 1:12), and that “unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10). Children, as well as adult believers, also seem to have guardian angels who “watch” them (Matthew 18:10; Acts 12:9-15).
This is a mysterious subject because we cannot see these “watchers,” but we at least need to know they are there. In fact, we can praise God that “the angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Psalm 34:7). HMM