DANIEL, FROM YOUTH TO THE AGED
“The preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1, 12), Solomon (1 Kings 1:43), said, “Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The aged are then described. The book of Daniel is a picture of a young boy turning old. Daniel, along with other children, was exiled to the king’s palace. (Daniel 1:1-6, especially, verses 4, 6). These children were “of the king’s seed, and of the princes…in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” (Verses 3, 4).
Though a young child (Daniel 1:4), estimated by some to be around fifteen, Daniel, whose name meant “God is my judge”, was changed to Belteshazzar, meaning, “Protect his life”, was a talented youth who knew and remembered God his Creator. Read Daniel 1:3, 4 again. Having learned about young Daniel, we now turn to new information about him. King Nebuchadnezzar “appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank:…” (Daniel 1:5). “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Verse 8). “Defile”, Hebrew, “GAAL…freeing, i. e. repudiating); to soil or (fig.) desecrate:–defile, pollute, stain.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, p. 251). Daniel requested that “Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuch had set up over Daniel…ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.” (Verses 11, 12). “Pulse”, Hebrew “ZEROA…something sown…a vegetable (as food):–pulse.” (Strong’s, p. 819). Possible reasons for refusing the king’s diet, which included meat, may have been that he would not defile himself by eating unclean beasts (Leviticus 5:2), animals strangled (Acts 15:20, 21; Leviticus 3:17; 5:9), or meat offered to idols. Cf. Acts 15:20, 21, 29. This request and action might have resulted in death (Daniel 1:10), but Daniel and the others were committed to purity. What an example by children, or anyone! How many children or adults would die for God today? How many “follow a multitude to do evil”? (Exodus 23:2). Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Daniel and other’s faithfulness to God paid great dividends. (Daniel 1:19, 20, “among them all was found none like Daniel,…therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.”
The years pass, and Daniel ages as he continues to serve Nebuchadnezzar, but he always remains faithful to God, maintaining his purity. His humility, compassion for others, loyalty to the king in matters non-contradictory to God, and his deep and abiding faith in God are seen as he pleads for the lives of the king’s wise men, seeks God’s help in telling the king what he dreamed and what it meant, always giving God the credit and glory. (Daniel 2, especially verses 18-23, 27, 28, 31-44). All came true exactly as he told it. (Daniel 2-Acts 2). The king’s reaction was bad and good. He wrongly “worshipped Daniel” (Daniel 2:46), but rightly concluded that “God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings; and a revealer of secrets,…” (Verse 47). Faithful Daniel “was made a great man”, given “many great gifts, and made…ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.” (Verse 48). “Daniel sat in the gate of the king.” (Verse 49). God wins through Daniel.
Daniel 3 is a picture of Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refusing to bow down before the idol gods and the 60’x18’ gold image of Nebuchadnezzar, under the penalty of being thrown into a burning fiery furnace. The song, My Faith Looks Up To Thee, is seen in their statement to Nebuchadnezzar, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:17, 18, 28). We need God’s people to stand up against modern-day man-made religions, without compromise. Cf. Matthew 15:7-9; Galatians 1:6-9. God delivered these three without the singeing of one hair or the smell of smoke on them. The king forbad any thing amiss being said about the God of these three. (Verse 29). The trio was promoted in the province of Babylon. God wins again due to the faithfulness of His followers. As the song says, “He Is Able To Deliver Thee.”
Daniel four reveals Nebuchadnezzar’s tree dream, and loyal Daniel’s interpretation of it, telling the king that he will be replaced, which happened. Chapter five begins with his grandson, “Belshazzar the king” on the throne. He defiled the temple vessels (Verses 2-4), and handwriting appeared on the wall. (Verse 5). After failures by his wise people to tell what the writing meant, God’s loyal servant, Daniel was summonsed to interpret the meaning, with a promise of great reward (Verses 10-16), which he refused. (Verse 17). God again gave him the meaning. (Verses 18- 30). Daniel continues to grow older, and, perhaps, weaker, he now lives under Darius the Median (Verse 31), who set one hundred twenty princes over the whole kingdom, with three presidents over them, of whom Daniel was the first. (Daniel 6:1, 2). “Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him before the whole realm.” (Verse 3). Verses 4 and 5 are most telling, by saying, “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” They set a trap, forbidding anyone to ask a petition of any God other than the king for thirty days. (Verses 6-9). “When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” (Verse 10, 11). He was cast into a den of lions. (Verse 16). God delivered innocent believing Daniel. (Verses 21-23). Again, God is extolled as a result of one of His own being true to Him in the face of death. (Verses 25-27). Again, Daniel “prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (Verse 28).
From vibrant youth to weakened old age, Daniel remembered His Creator, and served Him well. Are we as “pure in heart”? (Matthew 5:8), thinking on things that are “pure”? (Philippians 4:8). Do we deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, living soberly, righteously and godly? (Titus 2:11, 12, 14). Are our hearts pure? (1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22; 2 Peter 3:1). Do we maintain purity? (1 Timothy 5:22; James 4:8). Do we love one another with pure hearts fervently? (1 Peter 1:22).
May all seek to imitate the great example Daniel left in trusting God with the whole heart. (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Matthew 22:37). May we be pure, faithful, loyal, uncompromising, ever ready to set forth God’s plan. Cf. 1 Peter 3:15. Read and obey Hebrews 11:6; John 8:24; Acts 3:19; Romans 10:9, 10; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:13.