Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.Daniel 1:2; Daniel 1:6
I was taken captive when nearly sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God; and I was taken to Ireland in captivity with so many thousand men, in accordance with our deserts, because we departed from God and kept not His precepts.
—St. Patrick's Confessions.
The strangeness of foreign life threw me back into myself.
—Newman, Apologia, I.
We are told about a great many good men in the pages of the Bible: some who were generally beloved by God, as the Prophet Daniel; some who found grace in the eyes of Jehovah, as Noah. It is instructive and interesting to investigate why these men found grace and why they were beloved.
I. The Life of Noah.—If we examine the life of Noah, we find that he had at least four characteristics:—
a. He was obedient to God.
b. He had faith in God.
c. He reverenced God.
d. He worshipped God.
We can thus see to some extent why he found grace in the eyes of Jehovah. The life of Noah, like every other life in the Old Testament, is meant to be an example to us, to show what our lives should be or what they ought not to be.
II. The Life of Daniel.—Again, if we investigate the life of Daniel, we can see some reasons why ho was greatly beloved:—
a. He obeyed.
b. He resisted temptation.
c. He held fast to that which was right.
d. He was tempted, yet he refused to partake of the king's meat and imbibe of the king's wine.
He had his reward from God, and also in the worldly sense; for we are told that at the end of ten days after his abstinence his countenance appeared fair, and he was fatter in the flesh than all the others who did eat of the king's meat. Daniel lived at a court where there was much intemperance, much luxury, and much idolatry; and, therefore, thought it his duty in the circumstances to abstain from the king's meat and drink, as from things offered to idols. We need not necessarily suppose that Daniel was a temperance advocate. We have no reason to think that he regarded wine as a pernicious, deadly thing; but he thought it his duty, because of the occasion and the surroundings, to do without it.
References.—I. 8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No. 2291. I. 8-21.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Daniel, p. 40.
See Addison's Spectator (No. 195), and Dante's Purgatorio, xxii. 145.
Most failures lie in not going on long enough. I heard a man in a meeting in the country long ago say, that one of the most encouraging verses he knew was a verse of common metre to this effect:—
Go on, go on, go on, etc.
What is commonly admired as successful talent is far more a firm realizing grasp of some great principle, and that power of developing it in all directions, and that nerve to abide faithful to it, which is involved in such a true apprehension.
Reference.—II.—J. G. Murphy, The Book of Daniel, p. 85.
And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;
Children 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.
And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.
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.
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.
Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.