This is what I know when I meet Daniel–he was physically fit, attractive, teachable and capable, educated, and qualified. He was going to be treated (somewhat) like a king–at least with a measure of respect and dignity–eating food and drinking wine from the king’s table. And he was going to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
Daniel 1:3-8, NIV
And though he was enlisted to be part of the king’s service and immersed in the culture of the Babylonians, he drew a line he wouldn’t cross: he would not defile himself with the royal food and wine. I take special note of this.
I learn a lot about Daniel and his friends in these opening scriptures. And I see how God works in their lives.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
Daniel 1:17, NIV, emphasis mine
I also take special notice of what happens when Daniel is under extreme pressure. He’s on the cusp of execution because all the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers are unable to tell the king the content of his dream or its meaning.
14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.
Daniel 2:14, NIV
Daniel speaks with wisdom and tact.
He also takes the issue to the Lord in prayer and expectation.
17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
Daniel 2:17-23, NIV
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
I think again on the quote, “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.” Finding himself a captive of sorts, enlisted, and facing great stresses, I see the level of Daniel’s training–a foundation of solid boundaries, discipline, faith, and humility.
Lord, these days I find myself leaning more and more into you. I’m thankful for a reading today that highlights your presence and provision. And I’m also grateful for a reminder of my own personal responsibility to stick to boundaries and maintain a focus.