Daniel 1:1–21 (NKJV)
1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
As we begin looking at the Book of Daniel, we transition from prophecies about military defeat and exile into actual accounts of life in the exile. Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, are examples of the young people from Israel and Judah who are taken to Babylon. This book is full of amazing stories, prophecies, divine deliverance, and other encouraging accounts.
3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
Here, the four Hebrews young men appear and are identified as part of the sons of Judah who were chosen. They were to be educated and fed richly.
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. 10 And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.”
11 So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” 14 So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. 16 Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.
This story speaks of the wisdom and faithfulness of Almighty God. Daniel and the other three purposed not to eat the rich foods of Nebchadnezzer, as they were not part of the Jewish dietary laws permitted by their God. Convincing the eunuch to allow them this exception for ten days, they proved their point as they were healthier looking after those days than the other boys. Because they obeyed the Lord, they were blessed and favored, and they continued to obey the Lord and thrive.
17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18 Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. 21 Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.
When a person or persons follow the instruction of the Lord, and obey His commands, the Lord will favor that person in many ways. Whatever skills or gifts God has given you, great or small, He wants to use you for His glory and purpose. If you submit your teaching, leading, planning, organizing, singing, playing, preaching, greeting, or other skills to God’s purposes, He will make them phenomenal for Him. Daniel and the others submitted their intellectual and prophetic gifts to God’s glory and found favor in the eyes of God and men in Babylon. Let God take what He has already given you and make it greater for His glory!