In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
I. We see here how national sins are ever followed by Divine retribution.
II. We see here most admirably illustrated the duty of adhering in all circumstances to that course of conduct which in our consciences we believe to be right.
III. We have in this history an illustration of the value of temperance in eating and drinking.
IV. We may see here how God's hand is in all His people's concerns.
W. M. Taylor, Daniel the Beloved, p. 1.
References: Daniel 1:1.—R. Payne-Smith, Homiletic Quarterly, vol. v., p. 378. Daniel 1:3.—iii. 16-27.—J. Wells, Bible Children, p. 173. Daniel 1:3-5.—Parker, Ark of God, p. 198. Daniel 1:3-8.—J. R. Bailey, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 235. Daniel 1:6.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 237. Daniel 1:6, Daniel 1:7.—Ibid., vol. vi., p. 229.
I. The respect which honest and open minds, even worldly or heathen minds, cannot help entertaining for spiritual principle or power. Nebuchadnezzar was a man of imperial capacity. We know but little of him, either through sacred or profane history; but what we do know leads to the conviction that he was one of those rare men who are born for imperial rule. He was a man not unmindful of the duties of a ruler as well as the enjoyments; a man reverent too, and pious towards the only gods he had ever heard of, or, before he came across the greater spirit of Daniel, had a chance of knowing. It was something beyond the ordinary habit of an Eastern monarch to train captive youths to occupy places about his person and court. His distinguished consideration for the Hebrew captive children, shows that he was a seeker of wisdom, of guidance, could any man show it him. The one great secret of power, of living and lasting power, is godliness.
II. Daniel's way of getting and doing good was other and higher than the king's. Nebuchadnezzar had no higher notion of the way to foster the growth of mind and character than to feed it daintily. Daniel knew that mind and character had to be fed; he fed them on the bread of God. His resolution was one of the wisest ever taken by a young man in this world. The grounds on which it rested were: (1) ceremonial; (2) physical; (3) moral. Every man must study, as Daniel did, the relation of things indifferent in themselves to his own life. One man may adopt a mode of life, allow himself certain pleasures, trust himself in certain places, where another, honestly desirous to live soberly and godly, would not be safe for an hour. Let every man mark what is helpful, what is hurtful in the thousand indifferent things which he handles, and scenes which he frequents, day by day. And then let him build his bulwarks; and remember that the keeping of that is in most cases the keeping of the soul.
J. Baldwin Brown, Aids to the Development of the Divine Life, No. 12.
I. What were Daniel's temptations to abandon a life of abstinence from strong drink? (1) He was tempted by his youth. (2) He was tempted also by the usages of his social rank. (3) He was tempted by the courtesies of official station. (4) He was tempted by his professional prospects. (5) He was tempted by his absence from home and native land.
II. Observe what was the young nobleman's conduct in the trial. (1) He was true to his faith in abstinence from the use of wine. He had a principle of his own on the subject, and adhered to it. (2) He was true to the education of his childhood. (3) He was true also to the principle of temperance as a religious virtue. (4) He calmly trusted the consequences of his procedure to God.
III. What were the results of Daniel's fidelity in his own experience? (1) By his temperance he gained a healthy body. (2) In that brief trial of his youth he laid the foundation of a robust, religious manhood. In this early and brief fragment of his life, he settled the future of his professional career as a prophet of the living God.
A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book, p. 174.
References: Daniel 1:8.—G. T. Coster, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 70; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xi., p. 147; Homiletic Magazine, vol. v., p. 118; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 233. 1—J. G. Murphy, The Book of Daniel, p. 82.
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.