Text Daniel 1-3 (Ps 55)
Observe Divine judgment has been carried out. The first wave of exiles from Judah arrives in Babylon, among them Daniel and his three friends, young men who revere the Lord and His law. Singled out for training in the Babylonian civil service, they are renamed, leaving behind their Hebrew identity.
They refuse to eat the king’s food, as it is defiled. Daniel requests a vegetarian diet, which their minder reluctantly provides; after 10 days, they are healthier than the others who have no such scruples. God’s plan and care for them is evident: 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. (1:17) This gift will be of particular value to him.
The king has a nightmare. His astrologers can’t interpret it, to their detriment; Daniel and his companions are next for this treatment. Knowing he can interpret dreams, Daniel and his friends pray for God’s mercy and wisdom in this crisis. God interprets as Daniel sleeps. Praising God for this, he tells the king: … there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these: (2:28) then proceeds to interpret. Nebuchadnezzar is grateful and impressed. He promotes Daniel to a high position at the court and makes his three friends officials.
Nebuchadnezzar sets up an idol, commanding all to bow to it at a musical signal. Daniel’s three friends refuse; the astrologers see this and report to the king. Summoning them, he threatens a fiery end, but they are fearless – God will deliver them. So, into the superheated furnace they go, the king and his officials watching the four (four?? Wait, wait … who’s this other one who looks like the son of the gods?3:25) They are released unharmed, and Nebuchadnezzar, recognizing the power of God, decrees they may worship Him without barriers. And they are promoted.
Interpret Strange, almost fanciful stories – parables make us look deeper than the tales’ surface. Themes of obedience, clinging to God in all circumstances run throughout these chapters, showing us how God works in people of faith. Such extraordinary gifts may be rare, but if necessary God will give them for His name’s sake.
Apply Daniel and his friends were young, but so steady in honouring God. How can we instill these learnings into our young people? For parents, their example, much prayer and entrusting them to God offer the principal means as our society crumbles around us. Their sure footing must be in the Lord Jesus; courage to stand against amorality and the untruth of ‘my truth’ is the Spirit’s work. God bless parents and their children – it’s a challenging time for believing families. As their faith family, we must nurture and love the young ones as they develop and take their place among us; they have a wisdom and innocence we don’t possess!
We learn from these men in their disciplined clinging to God. May we seek to develop the same steadfast trust in God and allow their examples to challenge us to stand firm in truth, to make prayer and the Word our compasses, to present our bodies daily as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord our God (asking Him what this means for us).
Ask Lord, how and where will I be a Daniel for You?
Pray Lord God, please work in me as You did in the lives of Daniel and his friends. Like them, I trust my life to You as this society becomes more godless. Give me courage and wisdom through Your Spirit to live fully for You despite the lure of the world around, to stand up for Your principles and follow Your law of love.
Song Psalm 55: Save Me Randy Vild/ Victoria Gydov
Ps. 55: But I Will Trust in You Jason Silver
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.