Daniel’s early life demonstrates that there is more to being young than making mistakes. No characteristic wins the hearts of adults more quickly than wisdom in the words and actions of a young person. Daniel and his friends had been taken from their homes in Judah and exiled. Their futures were in doubt, but they all had personal traits that qualified them for jobs as servants in the king’s palace. They took advantage of the opportunity without letting the opportunity take advantage of them.
Our first hint of Daniel’s greatness comes in his quiet refusal to give up his convictions. He had applied God’s will to his own life, and he resisted changing the good habits he had formed. Both his physical and spiritual diets were an important part of his relationship with God. He ate carefully and lived prayerfully. One of the benefits of being in training for royal service was eating food from the king’s table. Daniel tactfully chose a simpler menu and proved it was a healthy choice. As with Daniel, mealtimes are obvious and regular tests of our efforts to control our appetites.
White Daniel limited his food intake, he indulged in prayer. He was able to communicate with God because he made it a habit. He put into practice his convictions, even when that meant being thrown into a den of hungry lions. His life proved he made the right choice.
Do you hold so strongly to your faith in God that whatever happens you will do what God says? Such conviction keeps you a step ahead of temptations; such conviction gives you wisdom and stability in changing circumstances. Prayerfully live out your convictions in everyday life and trust God for the results.
Strengths and accomplishments
Although young when deported, remained true to his faith
Served as an adviser to two Babylonian kings and two Medo-Persian kings
Was a man of prayer and a statesmen with the gift of prophecy
Survived the lions’ den
Lessons from his life
Quiet convictions often earn long-term respect
Don’t wait until you are in a tough situation to learn about prayer
God can use people wherever they are
Where: Judah and the courts of both Babylon and Persia
Occupation: A captive from Israel who became an adviser of kings
Contemporaries: Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, Cyrus
“This man Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, has exceptional ability and is filled with divine knowledge and understanding. He can interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means” (Daniel 5:12).
Daniel’s story is told in the book of Daniel. He is also mentioned in Matthew 24:15.
Shadrach / Meshach / Abednego
Friendships make life enjoyable and difficult times bearable. Friendships are tested and strengthened by hardships. Such was the relationship between three young Jewish men deported to Babylon along with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego help us think about the real meaning of friendship. As much as these friends meant to each other, they never allowed their friendship to usurp God’s place in their lives - not even in the face of death.
Together they silently defied King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to fall down and worship his gold statue. They shared a courageous act, while others, eager to get rid of them, told the king that the three Jews were being disloyal. While this was not true, Nebuchadnezzar could not spare them without losing face.
This was the moment of truth. Death was about to end their friendship. A small compromise would have allowed them to live and go on enjoying God, and serving their people while in this foreign land. But they were wise enough to see that compromise would have poisoned the very conviction that bound them so closely - each had a higher allegiance to God. So they did not hesitate to place their lives in the hands of God. The rest was victory!
When we leave God out of our most important relationships, we tend to expect those relationships to needs in us that only God can meet. Friends are helpful, but they cannot meet our deepest spiritual needs. Leaving God out of our relationships indicates how unimportant he really is in our own life. Our relationship with God should be important enough to touch our other relationships - especially our closest friendships.
Strengths and accomplishments
Stood with Daniel against eating food from the king’s table
Shared a friendship that stood the tests of hardship, success, wealth, and possible death
Unwilling to compromise their convictions even in the face of death
Survived the blazing furnace
Lessons from their lives
There is great strength in real friendship
It is important to stand with others with whom we share convictions
God can be trusted even when we can’t predict the outcome
Occupation: King’s servants and advisers
Contemporaries: Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up’” (Daniel 3:16-18).
The story of Shadrach (Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael), and Abednego (Azariah) is told in the book of Daniel.
Nebuchadnezzar was one world leader who decided he could get more cooperation from the people he conquered by letting them keep their gods. Their lands he took, their riches he robbed, their lives he controlled, but their idols he allowed them to worship, sometimes even worshiping them himself. Nebuchadnezzar’s plan worked well, with one glaring exception. When he conquered the little nation of Judah, he met a God who demanded exclusive worship - not just his share among many gods. In a sense, Nebuchadnezzar had always been able to rule the gods. This new God was different; this God dared to claim that he had made Nebuchadnezzar all that he was. One of the great conquerors in history was himself conquered by his Creator.
The Bible allows us to note the ways in which God worked on Nebuchadnezzar. God allowed him victories, but he was accomplishing God’s purpose. God allowed him to deport the best young Jewish leaders as his palace servants, while placing close to him a young man named Daniel, who would change the king’s life. God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to attempt to kill three of his servants to teach the king that he did not really have power over life and death. God warned him of the dangers in his pride and then allowed Nebuchadnezzar to live through seven years of insanity before restoring him to the throne. God showed the king who was really in control.
The lessons are clear to us today because of our place in history. When our attention shifts to our own lives, we often find ourselves unable to see how God is working. But we do have the advantage of God’s Word as our guide for today’s challenges. We are commanded to obey God; we are also commanded to trust him. Trusting him covers those times when we are not sure about the outcome. God has entrusted us with this day; have we trusted him with our life?
Strengths and accomplishments
Greatest of the Babylonian kings
Known as a builder of cities
Described in the Bible as one of the foreign rulers God used for his purposes
Weaknesses and mistakes
Thought of himself as a god and was persuaded to build a gold statue that all were to worship
Became extremely proud, which led to a bout of insanity
Tended to forget the demonstrations of God’s power he had witnessed
Lessons from his life
History records the actions of God’s willing servants and those who were his unwitting tools
A leader’s greatness is affected by the quality of his advisers
Uncontrolled pride is self-destructive
Relatives: Father: Nabopolassar. Son: Evil-merodach. Grandson: Belshazzar
Contemporaries: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud” (Daniel 4:37)
Nebuchadnezzar’s story is told in 2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 21-52; Daniel 1-4.