Making Sense of Daniel
Chapter 1: He Purposed in His Heart
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
- We know the text above well, but let us assure our hearts of it by reviewing a man’s real life application.
- There are four distinct clauses in our text, and each one is full of meaning and value for every one of us.
THE SETTING (Dan 1:1-2)
- God gave Nebuchadnezzar absolute power over the nations of Palestine (Jer 27:1-11).
- God sent Nebuchadnezzar to punish Israel for 70 years for sins (Jer 25:8-14).
- Jehoiakim foolishly rebelled, so Nebuchadnezzar defeated him (II Kings 24:1).
- And as promised, God gave up His people to His servant, Nebuchadnezzar, even though they were his people and they had all the external worship of God.
- Nebuchadnezzar took some of the vessels from the Lord’s temple with him to Babylon.
- Babylon’s ambassadors saw the vessels by Hezekiah’s pride (II Kgs 20:12-19).
- Belshazzar would blaspheme God with them in just a few years (Daniel 5:1-4).
- Though Nebuchadnezzar thought his god gave him the victory, it was surely Jehovah!
THE FAST TRACK (Dan 1:3-7)
- Nebuchadnezzar sought prized recruits for his fast track program to be high in Babylon.
- Large American businesses will select the best recruits for specialized training.
- These best of the best and brightest of the brightest were to stand by the king.
- They were gelded as eunuchs to make them more docile, loyal, and celibate.
- They had room and board for three years from the king’s table while in school.
- Four of these children were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, from Judah’s best.
- He gave them Babylonian names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
THE COMMITMENT (Dan 1:8-16)
- But Daniel purposed in his heart to not defile himself with the king’s meat and wine.
- The first step to pleasing God is purposing in your heart not to sin; for sin comes by enticing the heart, thinking of the sin, and then doing the sin (James 1:13-16).
- He might have chosen to avoid the unclean meats of Moses’ law (Lev 11:1-23).
- He might have chosen to avoid the implicit idolatry (I Corinthians 10:19-21).
- He might have chosen to avoid the seductive influence (Proverbs 23:1-8).
- He might have chosen to avoid the temptation toward gluttony (Prov 23:20-21).
- He might have chosen to fast in grief over Jerusalem’s defeat (Daniel 10:2-3).
- We do not conclude from his choice a diet of beans, peas, and water is superior.
- Consider various deceitful temptations Daniel resisted in purposing to obey God.
- He risked his life, for disobeying the king Nebuchadnezzar was usually fatal.
- He risked his fast track program of great privilege and pleasure while in training.
- He risked his fast track program of great opportunity and promotion in Babylon.
- He risked the peer pressure of other fast track recruits, who would ridicule him.
- He risked the criticism that he was not politically correct for the changing times.
- He risked the lives of others, for he could have cost Ashpenaz his own life.
- He risked the lives of other Jews, for he could have cost them all their lives.
- God had already arranged tender love and favor in the heart of Ashpenaz for Daniel.
- God blessed their ten-day trial, so that they were given freedom regarding their diet.
THE REWARD (Dan 1:17-21)
- God gave them – not the schooling – knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.
- Where do you think wisdom comes from? It comes from the Lord (Prov 2:6).
- And the Lord will give it to any who ask sincerely for it (James 1:5; Matt 7:7).
- How is this offer from the Lord inferior to His offer to Solomon (I Kings 3:5)?
- God gave Daniel a wonderful gift of prophecy, for his pure and purposeful heart.
- The four performed so well at the commencement exercises, they stood before the king.
- When God blesses a man with wisdom, there is no comparison to this world; for the factor of ten represents the Lord’s blessing over any worldly advantage.
- And please note that they are here compared to experienced veterans in the field.
- And Daniel continued on under the blessing of God even until the first year of Cyrus.
- He lived long enough to see and understand the ending of the 70 year captivity.
- God preserved him through various kings and transfers of power and authority.
- He saw the commandment of Cyrus for Jerusalem and the temple to be rebuilt.
- He lived beyond this event, as important as it was, by another date (Dan 10:1).
- Consider Daniel’s deteriorating circumstances of being taken captive from his home to a foreign nation, for such events would cause most to be destroyed, give up their faith, and doubt God’s providential care.
- We must purpose in our heart we will not sin and will always honor God, and He will take care of us.
- Great men devise godly goals and purposes for life, and then they live according to them (Ps 119:106).
- Our text, Proverbs 3:5-6, is indeed true; as Daniel is a historical example of practicing it and realizing it.