“the decree of the watchers.” God has an inner divine council of spirit beings who help Him administer His creation, and Daniel 4:13-25 gives us some excellent insight into that divine council. In Daniel, members of God’s divine council are referred to as “watchers” and “holy ones.” From the context of Daniel and with the help of the scope of Scripture, we can see that “the watchers” are spirit beings who help to watch over God’s creation and make and enforce decrees. The word “watcher” is unique to Daniel, and is a good example of how God works with a person in the terms of his understanding. In this case, due to Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian upbringing and culture, he would have already believed in some sort of heavenly council, or “council of gods,” but he would have viewed any such council in pagan terms, not the way the divine council is revealed in Scripture. So God, in typical loving fashion, gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream in a way that he could understand it, but that still fit the truth of the Scripture. It showed that God worked with other “gods” (high ranking spirit beings), but was still ultimately in control of the situation and the final decision maker.
Nebuchadnezzar tells Daniel, “I saw in the visions of my head on my bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven” (Dan. 4:13). Daniel then interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and mentions that what is about to happen to Nebuchadnezzar is “by the decree of the watchers” (Dan. 4:17), but is also a “decree of the Most High” (Dan. 4:24). That the decree is by both the watchers and the Most High God shows that God is working with a council of spirit beings to make and enforce decrees. The picture being drawn in Daniel is of a council that works together to agree upon a decree, but ultimately it is “the Most High” who rules the council, which then carries out His will. [For more information about God working with a divine council, see commentary on Genesis 1:26].