Scripture reading – Daniel 1


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The Book of Daniel is a prophetic panorama of human history. Our study of Daniel will include a prophetic vision of world empires, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and encompassing the Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. The visions the LORD communicated to Daniel were the history of the world…past, present, and still future. Daniel’s prophecies were more than a footnote of history’s past; they foretold future events that would conclude with the Second Coming of Christ.


Daniel 1 –Daniel: God’s Prophet to the Kings


Daniel 1 opened with a straightforward, historical account of events we studied in 2 Kings 24:12-16. We read it was “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah (605 BC) came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it” (Daniel 1:1). This was the first of three sieges by Babylon. The others that followed were 597 BC and 586 BC (the final destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, Jeremiah 25:9-12; 2 Kings 25).

We have seen in recent devotions that while Ezekiel prophesied to the Jewish captives living in Babylon the events occurring in Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah continued to call the people of Judah to repent of their wicked ways and turn to the LORD. Stubborn and rebellious, the people refused to repent, and the wrath of the LORD was provoked “against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16). Nevertheless, Jeremiah prophesied the captivity in Babylon would last 70 years (beginning with the first siege in 605 BC) and when those years were accomplished, the LORD would return His people to their land (Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10).


Nebuchadnezzar Besieged Jerusalem and Took Captive Israeli Youth (Daniel 1:1-4)

The events recorded in Daniel 1 occurred at the time the Temple was plundered, and King Jehoiakim was taken captive to Babylon (Daniel 1:1-2). 2 Kings 24:14-16 recorded that ten thousand Jews were taken captive. Nebuchadnezzar commanded a trusted servant, “Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes” (Daniel 1:3).

Ashpenaz chose the finest young men of Jerusalem: “Certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; 4Children in whom was no blemish [no physical flaws], but well favoured [handsome], and skilful in all wisdom [superior intellect], and cunning in knowledge [educated], and understanding science [discerning], and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace [social skills], and whom they might teach the learning [literature and philosophy] and the tongue [language] of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:3-4).

The Admirable Character of Daniel and His Peers

Nebuchadnezzar’s Objective: Assimilate Israel’s Youth into Babylonian Culture (Daniel 1:5-7)

The young men were afforded privileges that included a daily provision of food and wine from the king’s table (Daniel 1:5). The goal was to nourish them physically and cultivate within those young men an appetite for the ways of Babylon (Daniel 1:5b).

Named among the captives of Judah were “Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Daniel 1:6). To complete their assimilation into the Babylonian culture, “the prince of the eunuchs gave names [to the Jewish captives]: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego” (Daniel 1:7). We cannot determine their age with certainty; however, they were most likely in their mid to late teens when they were uprooted from their families and country and brought to Babylon with its strange language and idolatrous culture.


The Admirable Character of Daniel and His Peers (Daniel 1:8-16)

Nebuchadnezzar chose the best and brightest of Israel’s impressionable youth and prepared them to take their place in the administration of his vast empire. Leading by example and conviction, “Daniel purposed [pledged; determined; made a decree] in his heart that he would not defile [pollute; soil; stain] himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine [lit. intoxicating wine] which he drank: therefore he requested [desired; sought; enquired] of the prince [captain; governor] of the eunuchs [most likely a castrated servant] that he might not defile [pollute; soil; stain] himself” (Daniel 1:8).

What courage!  What conviction!  What passion! Though a young man and far from home, Daniel pledged his heart and resolved in his character that “he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). The “king’s meat” and wine were probably dedicated to idols and were contrary to the LORD’s law and commandments. Therefore, Daniel quietly and respectfully appealed to the king’s servant and “requested…that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).

Yet, Daniel was not alone! Not only did his friends prove to be men of conviction, but he was strengthened by his faith that the LORD was with him. God was at work and providentially “brought Daniel into favour [mercy; kindness; grace] and tender love [compassionate, brotherly love] with the prince [chief] of the eunuchs [who were the servants of the king] (Daniel 1:9).

Nebuchadnezzar’s Approval and Affirmation

The king’s servant expressed concerns that Daniel’s refusal would provoke the king’s wrath (Daniel 1:10. Daniel wisely proposed a test and said, “12Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. 13Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants” (Daniel 1:12–13).

Faithful to their convictions and respectful of their authorities, Daniel earned the servant’s favor and trust (Daniel 1:14). The LORD blessed Daniel and his three companions. When they were proved (i.e., tested and examined), they appeared healthier than those “children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat” (Daniel 1:14-15). For their faithfulness, the LORD rewarded Daniel and his friends with superior “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom” (Daniel 1:17). Above that, the LORD also gave Daniel “understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17b).


Nebuchadnezzar’s Approval and Affirmation (Daniel 1:17-20)

When three years passed (Daniel 1:5), Nebuchadnezzar commanded that the Jewish youth be brought to him, and “the king communed with them” (Daniel 1:18-19). Of those youth who were chosen to be educated and trained in the literature and language of Babylon, there “was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Daniel 1:19). They were chosen to stand “before the king” for “in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm” (Daniel 1:20).

The testing of Daniel’s faith prepared him for the challenges he would face when serving the kings of Babylon and Persia (Daniel 1:21). 


Closing thoughts –

In closing, consider the qualities that defined Daniel’s heart and his sensitivity to the authorities in his life. We have found him subordinate in his spirit (Daniel 1:12), sincere in his appeal (Daniel 1:12), Scriptural in his purpose (Daniel 1:12-13), and sensitive and humble in his request (Daniel 1:13-14). Daniel was a perfect model of unassailable faith and indomitable convictions.

Take a few moments and examine your faith and convictions in the shadow of Daniel’s stellar example. What is your spirit, manner, convictions, and relationship with the authorities in your life?

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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