Daniel was a young man living in Judah when they were attacked by the king of Babylon. Many people were enslaved and taken away to live there as a result. Daniel was not only a prophet, but a true example of how our relationship with God should be. He walked with Him with unwavering faith. As a result, God blessed him throughout his captivity, even to the point where he was over the entire city during multiple regimes.
Some people say Daniel was not a prophet, but Jesus cleared this up for us in Matthew 24:15, ““Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),” We’ll talk more about this in depth in Daniel 12.
The book of Daniel is broken into two simple pieces, rather than a chronological story.
- Chapters 1-6, Stories of Daniel and his three friends in Babylon. He interpreted dreams and stayed faithful to God. God blessed their lives, even in captivity.
- Chapters 7-12, A massive 70 week prophecy, including the events leading up to Jesus riding into Jerusalem, and the final week. We also catch a glimpse at five evil characters.
Daniel wrote most of the book of Daniel, but it appears that Nebuchadnezzer himself wrote chapter 4. Does this mean Nebuchadnezzer came to know God and we will some day meet him in Heaven? We’ll talk about that more in depth when we get to that chapter, but the short answer is “That’s above my pay grade!”.
This short, but incredible, book is very deep with a lot of lessons to learn. It shows us that even in our own modern day Babylon that we can thrive and walk with God without fear of consequences. We get a look at the same faith that Daniel had through the lives of his three friends. Then in the last half of the book, we get an incredible prophecy of “70 weeks” and the end of days.
Let’s jump right in with Daniel 1.
Daniel 1:1-2, (NKJV) 1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
V1, Jehoiakim was serving his 3rd year as king of Judah when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
Besieged means that he took his army and surrounded Jerusalem with the intent of capturing it or forcing their surrender.
“Besieged” here is the hebrew word “tsuwr”, which means “to shut in”. We don’t get any other details here, so we can just assume for now that they surrounded Jerusalem and called for a surrender. This assumption is based on what happens in V2.
V2, This text reads to me that Jehoiakim surrendered under the direct order of God. “the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand”. God also delivered some of the articles in the house of God, and those were delivered to the treasure house of his (Nebuchadnezzar’s) god in Shinar.
Why did God deliver Jehoiakim? 2 Kings 23:37 tells us “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.”
After he is delivered, he is then enslaved to Nebuchadnezzar. 2 Kings 24:1 tells us “In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him.”
“Vassal” here is the hebrew word “`ebel”, which means “slave, servant”. We have seen time and time again when the people of Israel have fallen away from God. Many kings did not obey God’s commands. This should be a lesson to us to be obedient. It is unlikely that God will deliver us into slavery, but in a way, it is also accurate that we will deliver ourselves. When you don’t follow God’s plan for your life, you’ll have a tough time at things, get into all kinds of trouble, and you could inadvertently enslave yourself.
What is a slave? Webster’s dictionary tells us that a slave (noun) is “A person who is wholly subject to the will of another; one who has no will of his own, but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another.”
Now step back for a minute and think about the definition of “slave” and how it might apply to you. Let’s say you are a pizza delivery driver. There are 3 pizza places in the area and you’ve already worked for 2 of them. You’ve spent your past trying to work as little as possible. You’ve been dishonest with your boss and coworkers always scamming the best deliveries and doing the easiest jobs in the store. You don’t know how to do anything else, and have found yourself at the only place in town that would hire you. You are at their mercy. You are overworked and the tips aren’t very good. You can’t leave, though, because you have put yourself in a position where it is the only place in town you can work.
Think back to the definition. Are you not wholly subject to the will of another? Are your services not under the control of that one pizza place owner?
Another form of slavery could come in pure financial form. You have a good job, but you’ve borrowed a lot of money.
Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
Here we learn from Solomon about not taking on debt. He shows us that there is a direct correlation between debt and enslaving yourself.
Now picture yourself working for a very healthy corporation. You have a high salary, yearly bonus, but you’re living paycheck to paycheck. You drive the nicest car on the block. You have the biggest house in the neighborhood. You’ve eaten at all the best steakhouses and travelled to lots of great places. You’re 40 and tapped out. You owe $125,000 in debt because you lived above your income level, and you suddenly find a lot of restrictions in life. You can’t miss any days at work for any reason, even when you’re really sick. You can’t go out with friends. In some instances, you can’t do what God would want you to do because you have tied yourself down. Those feelings from your hearts telling you to go on the Church mission trip are in grave jeopardy.
Slavery comes in all forms. It isn’t just about being in forced service to someone.
Another lesson we can take from this is a judgement from God. Jehoiakim was found doing evil in the sight of God, and given over to another King. Paul also talked about this in Romans 1:18-32. He starts off talking about the wrath of ungodliness and unrighteousness. After that he breaks out a list of things going wrong in the Roman society.
Romans 1:24-25, “24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
God gave these people up to uncleanness. This is a judgement from God. Just like King Jehoiakim was given up to Babylon, the Roman people were given up to all the unclean things their heart desired.
Romans 1:26-27, “26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
God also gave them up to vile passions. Women and men leaving their natural state and engaging in sexual impurity with members of the same sex.
Romans 1:28, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;”
“Debased” is defined by Webster as “reduced in quality or value”.
When your computer’s file system gets all messed up, your computer slows down, and sometimes you start having problems. If you rebased your file system, the operating system goes through and puts things back into order and fixes the damaged areas.
Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
This is the key to rebasing (or renewing) your mind.
Acts 17:11, “these were more [fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
How do you renew your mind? By searching the scriptures, reading and memorizing. Here in Acts we read about how the Bereans did this. Spending even a few minutes per day can make a huge difference in your life.
The final part of verse 2 tells us that not only did God give up Jehoiakim, he also delivered some of the articles of the house of God. What were these things?
2 Kings 24:13 talks a little bit about this, “And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said.”
2 Kings 23-25 is a very good read about what was going on with Jehoiakim’s lineage and Judah at that time. Chapter 23 talks a bit about Josiah and leads into Jehoiakim and how he did evil in the eyes of God. Chapter 24 then focuses on Jehoiakim’s fall and Zedekiah’s reign and rebellion against Nebuchadnezzer. Chapter 25 then talks about the fall and captivity of Judah, and a great famine that was in the land. This famine was so bad there was no food for the people.
Reading through 2 Kings 23-25 can give you a clearer picture of what Daniel and his friends are doing in Babylon and why they were there. We’ll talk more about 70 years of captivity and when those 70 years were coming to an end when we study Daniel 9.
Practical application points for verses 1-2:
- Lack of obedience to God can result in hard consequences.
- God may deliver you into the hands of another master if your heart desires.
- God will let you go to your heart’s desires as a judgement.
- You need to be in the word of God daily renewing your mind.
Daniel 1:3-7, 3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
V3, We learn here that the captives Daniel and his friends are with could be under the handling of someone named Ashpenaz, the master of his (Nebuchadnezzar’s) eunuchs. This verse has brought on the popular assumption that Daniel and his friends were turned into eunuchs.
In case you’re asking “What is a eunuch?”, let’s explore what a eunuch is and how they came to be.
A eunuch is someone who has been castrated. Eunuchs were usually servants of the royal court. They were castrated to make them reliable and without distraction.
Let’s dig into this a little bit, because this sounds like an awfully painful and gruesome process. How would you even use the bathroom after that?
If you look back at history, there are lots of people who were castrated. It wasn’t a “draw a sword and chop it all off” type of castration. That is something you’ll find in Islam that usually results in mutilation and death. This form of castration was a removal of the testicles. There are also a lot of references to this as “surgery” or “operation”. This would allude towards Daniel and his friends having their testicles removed.
The pain is something else you can read about through history. All the way back to ancient Babylon, there is evidence of types of what we call anesthesia. This would allow them to tie someone down, completely numb the area, and then do the operation to remove the testicles.
Now, back to “Was Daniel and his friend eunuchs?” It kind of looks that way. For starters, Daniel was never talked about as being married. Also, 2 Kings 20:18 gives us a clue:
“‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
You can even go back to Isaiah and a prophecy from God in Isaiah 39:7, “And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’ ””
You should always take the Bible for its word. This is also as clear as things get. Daniel himself was a eunuch. His friends were eunuchs. Please also take note that he was under the handling of the chief/master eunuch, and it fits the profile for royale servants. There is nothing to question here.
You also don’t have to feel sorry for them, they appeared to be content with God’s path. Daniel never lost his faith and never wandered from his walk with God. Even when it could have cost him his life. We’ll visit that more in chapter 6.
V4, This is where we learn what type of people Daniel and his friends were. The king wanted people who were blemish free, good-looking, gifted in wisdom, had knowledge and were quick to understand and had the ability to serve in the king’s palace. Why? Because they were going to teach them the language and literature of the Chaldeans. He wanted sharp, bright people, but also wanted good looking people without any physical short-comings.
Consider people today running for public office. Do they go on the campaign trail looking like they just woke up? No! They work very hard on their image so they can attract the eyes of potential supporters. It’s a human thing. We tend to shy away from people who don’t look good physically. Nebuchadnezzar was no different.
What are some modern examples of this?
Movie stars spend a great deal of time in makeup before ever going in front of a camera. Even beyond dressing up their appearance for a scene, people always come on camera with their hair done just perfectly. Their clothes are neatly tucked in. We (most of the time) don’t even see someone who is “ugly” to the human eye on screen.
Politicians never campaign without putting on the perfect set of clothes. They always have the perfect haircut that sometimes includes coloring their hair so they look younger and more attractive. There is even evidence out there that the prettier candidate will often gain more votes.
Now think about who might be around these people. Do you ever see Vice Presidents wearing dirty or ripped clothes? Do you ever see them without their hair combed? Of course not! Because they would reflect badly on the administration, and more precisely, the President.
V5, For all of these guys, they were given the opportunity to eat the King’s delicacies, and drink his wine. What better way to a man’s heart, than through his stomach. This was also considered to be an honor.
What kind of food did they eat? The king’s delicacies might have consisted of daily rations of meat, fish, lamb, fowl, honey, barley, dates, wheat, lentils, peas, beans, olives, pomegranates, grapes and pistachios. Poorer people sustained themselves mostly on bread and onions. There was a huge difference in food between the elite and common people of the ancient world.
This was paired with training for 3 years. Imagine that. You’ve been given a scholarship to the local University or College. With it came room and board and all the best food and wine you could drink.
Why would an evil king who just enslaved a group of men and (castrated them) do this? It sounds more like a positive than a negative. Because he wanted their focus on serving him in his court. Consider the education here more of an indoctrination than good paid training. They didn’t sign up to learn something of interest. They were brought into the service of the king by force.
V6, This is where we learn all 4 of their names. Daniel, and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. All of them were sons of Judah.
Who are the songs of Judah? I think we need to first understand who Judah was.
Genesis 29:35 introduces him, “And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing.”
She is Leah, Jacob’s first wife. Judah was their fourth son. Judah had 5 sons of his own, Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah.
Josephus wrote that Daniel and his three friends were from the family of Zedekiah. If this is the case, Daniel may have been an heir to the Davidic throne. Although some of my research suggested he was not in line for the throne.
1 Chronicles 3:10-16, “10 Solomon’s son was Rehoboam; Abijah was his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, 11 Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, 12 Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son, 13 Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son, 14 Amon his son, and Josiah his son. 15 The sons of Josiah were Johanan the firstborn, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, and the fourth Shallum. 16 The sons of Jehoiakim were Jeconiah his son and Zedekiah his son.”
Solomon, Josiah, Zedekiah. Notice who Zedekiah’s brother is? Johoiakim, the king that God gave over to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 1:1. If this is true, being part of the royal family is a possibility. Although apparently not heir to the throne.
Let’s back up for a minute. I always question things. Especially things that aren’t in the bible to verify. We don’t have a genealogy for Daniel. I reached out to someone who’s word I respect very much and asked their opinion about Josephus. She said she had never heard anything bad about his work. Still, we don’t have a biblical record. I also ran across something else.
2 Kings 25:7, “Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.”
We know Daniel wasn’t killed. But what did Josephus mean when he said “the house of Zedekiah”? This is probably deeper than we need to go on this topic. I always have to tell myself to keep my eyes focused on what the bible tells us, and not get caught up in everything. That same person who said they hadn’t heard anything bad about Josephus would also be telling me this doesn’t matter this much. They’re right! Let’s move on.
Another piece of my research also pointed to tying Daniel 1:3, 6 and Isaiah 39:7 together points to Jewish tradition maintaining that Daniel was part of the royal family.
Please take all of this with a grain of salt. As I said, I always question things. Who else did that? The Bereans. You can read about them in Acts 17, and in particular Acts 17:11 is a good thing to remember as a reminder for you to search the scriptures daily. There is no Biblical account of Daniel’s family tree. Is this all true? I don’t know, but it was interesting to me so I included it in this commentary. Either way, Daniel will prove to be a great leader, testimony, and prophet.
V7, And here is where we learn that the chief of the eunuchs gave them new names. More supporting evidence that Daniel and his friends were eunuchs.
Why were they given new names? Perhaps because that’s what kings did with their servants.
Isaiah 65:15, “You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord God will slay you, And call His servants by another name;”
Genesis 45:41, “And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.”
Here are two more biblical accounts of rulers giving out new names. First, we see God Himself giving servants another name. Then all the way back to Joseph, we see Pharoah issue him a new name. This was common practice in the ancient world.
Here are their names and meanings paired with their new names and meanings, with a brief understanding of the new names. Their original name meanings are self-explanatory.
Daniel – God is my Judge
Belteshazzar – Bel Protect His Life
Who is Bel?
“Bel” means “lord” or “master”. Bel is a title rather than a name. This applied to various gods in the Messopotamian religion of Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia. In greek it is “Belos” and in Latin it is “Belus”. Ultimately, Bel is a mythological false god.
Hananiah – Yahweh is Gracious
Shadrach – The Command of Aku
Who is Aku?
The moon god. Aku being Sumerian equivalent of Sin.
Mishael – Who is Like God?
Meshach – Who is as Aku Is?
Who is Aku?
Again, the moon god. Aku being Sumerian equivalent of Sin.
Azariah – Yahweh is my Helper
Abed-Nego – Servant of Nebo
Who is Nebo?
- “Nabu”, or “Nebo” in the bible, major god in the Assyro-Babylonian pantheon.
- His father was Marduk
- Patron of the art of writing and a god of vegetation
- Worship of this “god” was denounced by Isaiah in Isaiah 46:1, “Bel bows down, Nebo stoops; Their idols were on the beasts and on the cattle. Your carriages were heavily loaded, A burden to the weary beast.”
Again, why did they get new names?
Probably more than one reason.
- This was common practice in the ancient world.
- So they wouldn’t have names that honored God.
- Names that lined up with the false gods being worshiped in Babylon
- It was probably an attempt to get them to forget about the God of their fathers, and worship the gods of Babylon. (Think about their castration and serving the king without distraction.)
Remember, they were stripped from their life under God, and placed into an evil ruler’s control. They were going to be indoctrinated at all angles. A new name could help them forget their old lives under God, and focus on their new lives in service of Nebuchadnezzar.
Also consider this. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t know God (yet, Chapter 4). He wanted them aligned with his kingdom, not their former kingdom. He may not have understood their bond with God. Afterall, his gods were all fake and mythical. Giving them a new name and meaning that aligns with his courtyard makes sense.
Practical application points for verses 3-7:
- God is going to put you in a place and feed you with wisdom and knowledge. You may not have chosen that mission for your life, but it is the one that best suits you.
- Just because the world thinks they can mask you, doesn’t mean they can take away who you really are or what you stand for.
Daniel 1:8-16, 8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. 10 And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.” 11 So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” 14 So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. 15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. 16 Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
This entire passage is the origin of the “Daniel Fast”. We’ll talk about the “Daniel Fast” in more detail in just a moment.
V8, Daniel sided with God and would not defile himself, even under the rule of an evil king. He would not eat of the king’s delicacies or wine, and petitioned the chief of the eunuchs to not be held to this diet.
V9, God was still with Daniel. God is always with us. Whenever you need him, he’s right there. Daniel wanted to be obedient and faithful, and God stuck with him by bringing him into favor and goodwill with the chief of the eunuchs. Why did God do that? Because Daniel and his friends were obedient and steadfast.
V10, The chief of the eunuchs was fearful of “his lord the king”, Nebuchadnezzer. His diet had been assigned by the king. The chief felt that if he didn’t abide by it, he wouldn’t look as good as the others. If that were to happen, it would have been his head.
The type of fear exhibited here is trembling fear. People were afraid of this man. The fear we have of God is a fear of ultimate respect. Please be aware of the difference when separating God from man.
Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
It isn’t for us to tremble in fear and run in terror expecting knowledge from the Lord. It is for us to have a specific respect for God, and then we can begin listening to his teaching and gain knowledge and wisdom.
James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Ever feel like you’re lacking a little bit? Pray and ask God for wisdom and he will answer you with all you need and more. If you’re struggling with problems at work and can’t figure it out, God can help there. If you have a friend who needs advice and you don’t know what to say, reach out to God and ask for guidance and wisdom to help them.
V11, Here we learn there is a steward over Daniel and his friends assigned by the chief of the eunuchs. This points to a hierarchy, and, in my mind, different groups or teams.
V12, Daniel’s proposal is to let him and his friends eat “vegetables” and drink water for 10 days, then compare them to the others.
Today’s basis for a “Daniel Fast” is fruits, vegetables, rice, and water. No meat, alcohol, or other drinks. There are lots of books and write ups on the topic. The one that I’ve read is by Elmer Townes called “Daniel Fast”. This book is a 40 day day-by-day guide to fasting, based on the Daniel Fast. Elmer Townes takes you through his personal journey of his 40 day fast with his friend Jerry Fallwell. The book also includes recipes. Consider it not only a daily guide, but a daily book of devotions with a cookbook attached.
Did he really only eat vegetables? The KJV uses the word Pulse rather than Vegetables, which goes to the hebrew word “zeroa`”.
Zeroa` means “something sown”, such as vegetables, beans, and other things.
What other foods are sown?
Onions and Shallots, Garlic, Spring Onions, Perpetual Spinach, Broad Beans, Peas, Asparagus, Winter Salads, Carrots, Pak Choi, Beats, Radishes, Turnips, Potatoes, Peanuts, etc.
The list continues from there, but you get the picture. It’s more than just vegetables.
A potential challenge for your own Daniel Fast would be to research “anything sown” foods, make some recipes, and “Daniel Fast” for 10 days. I did a 10 day Daniel Fast where I ate only fruit, vegetables, rice, and beans, while only drinking water. I probably didn’t stick to the “anything sown” rule with some of the fruit. Maybe you can improve on my short-comings!
V13, Daniel then challenges them to compare him and his friends with the others after 10 days. At that time, he confidently says they can choose what to do with all the servants.
Daniel trusted God. There wasn’t any grey area there. He must have known what the outcome would have been. How would he have known? He knew God and trusted him with unwavering faith and obedience.
You will always win when you trust God and obey. You can read about Moses in Exodus 14. We find Moses leading his people out of Egypt and Pharaoh hot on their trail. They came to the Red Sea and couldn’t continue. God instructed Moses to “lift up your rod, and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it” (Exodus 14:15). What happens next is the Red Sea waters pulled back and Moses and his people were able to cross safely. God let the waters go when the Egyptians tried to cross. Moses and his people escaped.
Moses could have chosen to say “Hey, God, sure, but we’re going to try and outrun them down the side of the Red Sea instead.” That probably wouldn’t have gone well. They were already catching up, and surely would have if God hadn’t formulated a plan for Moses.
V14, The test started and lasted 10 days.
V15, An A/B Test is a test that compares scenario A to scenario B. These tests are based on a hypothesis. The hypothesis here was “Which diet will show a healthier person?”.
Daniel and his group were scenario B. They proved their case by appearing better and fattier than those of scenario A.
V16, The results were ALL of them would be on Daniel’s diet. Not just Daniel and his friends. All of the servants under the steward were given Daniel’s diet.
Practical application points for verses 8-16:
- You should always obey God on purpose.
- If you are obedient, God will stand with you, fight for you, and protect.
- Siding with God is always the right choice. Your life will be abundantly better.
- Fearing the Lord will bring knowledge and wisdom. Fear of the Lord is laser focused respect.
The lesson of Daniel’s obedience speaks for itself. We see the reward in V17. Let’s continue.
Daniel 1:17-21, 17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. 21 Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.
V17, I think the key here is Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. This will prove to be a key thing in his life in the coming chapters of Daniel, which we’ll see first in Chapter 2. It is also a lesson that God will give wisdom liberally to all of us, we just have to ask.
Let’s review James 1:5 once more, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Let’s also talk about wisdom a bit more. Did you know the book of Proverbs is also called “The Book of Wisdom”? This was written by Solomon, son of King David, for his own son. We pick up the story in 1 King 3 where Solomon is talking to God, and God asks him what he wants.
1 Kings 3:3-10, 3 And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places. 4 Now the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place: Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” 6 And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
Solomon could have asked for anything he wanted. God was very happy with his request, so he granted it, and Solomon became the wisest person to ever live. He was also the richest, and as you read his story, you find he couldn’t always handle his success, taking things into his own hands. Remember our lesson on obedience?
We need to take another look at and remember what Solomon told us in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
What is wisdom? Wisdom is “knowledge and the capacity to make due usage of it.” (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary).
Consider this. Proverbs is 31 chapters. If you read 1 per day for a month, you’ll have read the entire book. It only takes minutes per day to read it. There are many lessons for all parts of life.
Let’s take that challenge a step further. The Bible is meant to be studied. Every time we re-read it we learn something new. We can renew our minds (Romans 12:2) by studying and memorizing it. If you read a chapter per day every day for a year, you will read through Proverbs almost 12 times. Imagine the renewal that can take place.
V18, 3 years of schooling done, and now the king wants to see them. He calls them in.
V19, There was an interview process of each and every one of them. This wasn’t a 3 year program to enter them in. It was to prepare them for an interview where they might get the job.
V20, The king found Daniel and his friends to have 10x more wisdom and understanding than all of his magicians and conjurers. God was clearly here raising them up for the work He wanted them to do. Although we don’t really know what his friends were in charge of, we know that Daniel was eventually put in charge of all of Babylon and then got them jobs over things as well. We’ll get to that in Daniel 2.
V21, This is a preview of the length of Daniel’s service. Daniel will keep position through multiple regime changes. More than once, he proves that our God is the one true God of the universe. More than once he proves that true faith and obedience goes a long way. His personal relationship with God will not be tarnished or stopped (Daniel 6).
Practical application points for verses 17-21:
- God will give you all the wisdom you need, you just need to ask and be faithful.
- When God feeds you wisdom, you will stand out in your walk with Him.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Do you hope for oxygen to breath and have evidence of it, even though you can’t see it? This is the kind of faith you should exhibit with God. If you sit down and form a relationship with Him, it is the same way. You can feel Him there, always. He breathes life into you.
Daniel knew and understood this with unwavering faith. You’ll see this as we read the story of his life in Babylon. He prayed faithfully. He never questioned God. He always knew God would be with him, and everyone around him did too. Everything he did proved God was there and real. Even the kings he worked under acknowledged God as the true God.
Read Daniel 2 before our next lesson. Daniel 2 gives us our first look into his ability to translate dreams and the first look at powerful people around him recognizing God as the one true God.
Our God isn’t a myth. He is real and wants to reveal himself to you. If you haven’t taken the step of faith, please take some time to read through John 1-3. In John 3 you will read about Jesus’ encounter with a man named Nicademus. There Jesus explains the concept of being born again and the Holy Spirit.
There are also many verses throughout the NT in Romans, Acts, and other places that will take you through salvation.
This is a great resource to read through. It answers many questions about what you need to do and how God can save you. If you’re even a little bit curious about accepting Christ, please read through this. There is even a video that goes along with it.