The Boy Who Stood
The reading of Daniel, chapter one, is essential to this lesson. Please take your Bible and postpone the study until you have read the passage.
The time of the lesson was when Judah was in Babylonian captivity, having been taken there in three stages: one, under Jehoiakim; then Jehoiachin; then Zedekiah. Daniel was among those taken in the first deportation.
He was also among the young men selected for special training by the Babylonians because he possessed the qualities which made him good material. He was without blemish, strong physically, well favored, one who got along well with others, skillful, wise, with better than average knowledge and understanding, the kind of lad who could stand before kings with composure. He was a young man of great promise and potential alongside others who were chosen.
Involved in his training was the change of names. Daniel’s name was changed to Belteshazzar (not to be confused with King Belshazzar). Also the training included a certain diet, food and drink that was set before them. They were taught the Chaldean language and ways. It was with regard to their diet where we see the manly characteristics of this young lad come to the surface.
Being a Jew, there were certain foods forbidden him lest he defile himself. He was forced to make a choice. If he ate these forbidden foods he would violate God’s law. If he did not eat he ran the risk of disfavor of his captors with unknown and uncertain consequences. Let us understand the nature of his alternatives. It was not left to Daniel to decide what was right and wrong. God had already decided that. It was not a question of knowledge with him because he knew the law of God. It was simply a question of whether he would obey God or not.
This is much the same decision confronting people today. God has decided and revealed in His Word right and wrong. Many times people know what God has said. They simply must decide whom to serve. In the comfort and security of our situations we may at first think Daniel’s decision should have been an easy one. But consider the pressures upon him. He could reason that he was in a strange land and not there by choice. What else could he do except comply with the wishes of his captors? The king’s servants had commanded it. Dare he defy them? He had already been told he would risk himself and others if he disobeyed their directions. Furthermore, who would ever know? It seemed that most everyone else was going along with the command. Why should he be different? He could have considered doing this thing just once in order to relieve a difficult situation with intentions to obey God hereafter. All of these excuses and rationalizations could have been suggested by him. These are the same kind of pressures facing people who consider serving God today.
Sometimes we get the idea that only the young are beset with pressure from their peers and situations. These pressures follow us all the days of our lives. If we do not learn to handle them while young we will likely be subverted by them somewhere down the line.
Daniel’s greatness is seen in verse eight. “But Daniel purposed in his heart he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank....” Daniel purposed in his heart he would obey God rather than disobey Him. He made up his mind to do right even in difficult conditions. Here is an example of godly manhood and strength. Regardless of what losses may beset him or others, whatever be the consequences to himself or others, with him it was, “Thy will be done,” and he was determined not to waver from it. God was first, last and always in Daniel’s decisions. How is it with you and me? Do we have this same disposition?
Yes, he counted the cost, not to see if he would obey God, but only to learn what God expected. Whatever the cost, he would obey God.
We are made to wonder where Daniel learned to take such a righteous stand. We are not specifically told. But we know that he could have learned it only from the will of God. Somebody had taught him and that somebody had done a splendid job of it. We know he could not have learned it by being indulged in sin and folly in his earlier days. He would not have so learned being allowed to “do his own thing” and go his own way. Nor could he have learned to take this stand by following the counsels of this world that teach to conform and get ahead at whatever cost to the truth. The Jews were taught to teach their young and somebody did what they were supposed to have done with Daniel. How we sin against our children to fail to give them the same kind of stalwart and unmovable strength of righteousness.
Let us not take lightly the statements of verses nine, seventeen, nineteen and twenty where God promised blessings and provisions to those who obeyed Him. Where do people get the idea that God is not aware of His own and that He fails to provide for them? When people do right, God knows it. When they decide the righteous path, God supports them in it. We see it in the life of Daniel. We see it in the promises of Christ (Matthew 6:33), and we have even seen it in our own lives. When Daniel made the decision first to follow the will of the Lord, then God acted on his behalf. Provisions were made to enable Daniel to remain faithful. But notice, he had to make his decision first. Then came the blessings of God.
There are certain lessons we must draw from this account. It is always right to do right and always wrong to do wrong. It is never right to do wrong and never wrong to do right. Ultimately, we never lose anything of lasting value when we do right and stand up on the side of God’s truth. Regardless of what it costs us, we are always more blessings than the losses we suffer.
We learn that God will provide for those who stand up for His way. It is never to our advantage to yield to temptations and pressures to do wrong. Regardless of the consequences, right-doing is better than wrong-doing. In our day of liberalism, modernism, various "isms" within and without the family of God, the theories of evolution, humanism, immorality, mass confusion, attacks on the Bible, digression in the church, the raging of the heathen on every hand, we must learn to stand. We must develop the same spiritual backbone that Daniel possessed and displayed. God has not promised ease and comfort in service to Him. What He has promised is expressed with the following poem.
God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through,
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe.
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden; many a care.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, and undying love.
How wonderful for each of us if we would develop the same noble virtue exhibited by Daniel on this occasion. Would we not be better servants of the God of heaven?
1. Why was Daniel in such precarious conditions?
2. What challenges did he face?
3. What resolution did he make?
4. How did this affect others?
5. How did God bless him?
6. How else could he have responded to the challenges?