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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.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

4:17 the watchers. These “watchers” are mentioned in the Bible only in this chapter (Daniel 4:13,17,23). They are evidently synonymous with “the holy ones” who have come “down from heaven.” They seem to represent a certain category of angels, dispatched in this case to bring disciplinary judgment on the presumptuous king Nebuchadnezzar. They are mentioned frequently in the apocryphal books of Enoch and Jubilees, where they appear to refer intermittently both to God’s holy angels and also to certain fallen angels. Although we cannot see them, we need to know they are there, directly concerned at least with “watching” events on earth (I Peter 1:12; Ephesians 3:10; Psalm 34:7, etc.).

4:17 basest of men. Arrogant, murderous, idolatrous Nebuchadnezzar was certainly among the “basest of men,” yet God made him king over the mightiest kingdom of his age, to accomplish His will in judging His own chosen nation. The same seems often true today, when kings and presidents often are immoral and wicked. In a sense, God gives a nation the kind of leader its people deserve. Now and again, in response to repentance and confession by at least some of its people, God provides a godly leader to lead his nation back to God.

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