Sermon 2291. "Dare To Be a Daniel"
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JANUARY 15, 1893.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the winewhich he drank." Daniel 1:8.
VERY much of our future life will depend upon our earliest days. I like a remark of Mr. Ruskin's that I remember to have read,though I cannot quote it verbatim. He says, "People often say, 'We excuse the thoughtlessness of youth,'" but he says, "No,it never ought to be excused. I had far rather hear of thoughtless old age, when a man has done his work- but what excusecan be found for a thoughtless youth? The time for thought is at the beginning of life and there is no period which so muchdemands, or so much necessitates, thoughtfulness as our early days." I would that all young men would think so. They say thatthey must sow their "wild oats." No, no, my dear young Friend, think before you sow such seed as that, and remember what thereaping will be. See whether there is not better corn to be found than wild oats and try to sow that. Then think how you willsow it and when you will sow it, for, if you do not think about the sowing-
"What will the harvest be?"
If there is any time when the farmer should think, it is surely in the early stages of the plowing and the sowing. If he doesnot think, then, it will be of small use for him to think afterwards.
Daniel was a young man, and he did think. It was his glory that he so thought that he came to a purpose, and he purposed,not with a kind of superficial, "I will," but he, "purposed in his heart," and gave his whole self to a certain definite purposewhich he deliberately formed. He was a young man-he was also a captive-and that rendered it the more remarkable that he shouldcome to such a decision. He had been stolen away from his father's house and carried into a foreign land. And you know whatmen say, "When you are in Rome, you must do as Rome does." But here was a young man in Babylon who would not do what Babylondid-a youth in a king's court who would not eat what the king ate, or drink what the king drank-a captive whose very namehad been changed in order to make him forget his country and his God, for the change in name, as I told you in the reading,was meant to be significant of a change in religion.
But though they might change Daniel's name, they could not change his nature, nor would he give up anything that he believedto be right. Captive as he was, he had a right royal soul, and he was as free in Babylon as he had been at Jerusalem. Andhe determined to keep himself so, for he, "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of theking's meat, nor with the wine which he drank." Oh, that we had a multitude of young men who knew how to put their feet down!We have a great number, now, who are watching to see where to put their foot down, and they will try to put it down, not whereit is most solid ground, but where it is most turfy, and easy, and soft to the feet! May God give us back the old grit thatused to be in old-fashioned Christians, to whom custom was nothing, but God's Word was everything-to whom it mattered notwhether it brought loss or gain-but they did the right and followed the right, cost what it might!
Now, it was because Daniel, while yet a youth, a captive, a student, was so decided in what he did, that his later life becameso bright. He would never have been called, "a man greatly beloved," if he had not been made, by Grace, a youth greatly decided.Neither would he have advanced to the reign of Cyrus, as we read just now, if he had not stood firm in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.You shall read the evening of life in the morning of life, and you shall decide what your evening is to be by what your morningis! God help you, who are beginning life, for, if God begins with you and you begin with God, your life will be one of happyusefulness which will have a truly blessed end!
I am going to talk just now, not so much about Daniel, as about the whole subject of a spirit of decision in such a time asthis. Our first head will be that there are temptations to be resisted by us, as there were by Daniel. Secondly, there areright methods of resisting temptation. And, thirdly, there are certain points which will have to be proved by experience whilewe are in this process of fighting against temptation.
I. THERE ARE TEMPTATIONS TO BE RESISTED. There never was a man yet who had faith and who had not
trials. Wherever there is faith in God, it will be tested at some time or other-it must be so. It cannot be that the houseshall be built, even on the Rock, without the rains descending, the floods coming and the winds beating upon that house. Thoughit shall not fall, yet it shall be tried by a force that would make it fall were it not Divinely sustained.
Now, first, look at Daniel's temptations. In his case, the temptation was very specious. He was told to eat the portion offood that, every day, came from the king's table. Could he need any better? And he was commanded to drink the measure of wine,generally the best in the world, that was sent from the king's table. He might have fared like a prince! Could he have anyobjection to that? He had no objection except this-that it would defile him. Do you understand what he meant by that? Therewere certain foods used by the Babylonians, such as the flesh of swine, the flesh of the hare and of certain fish, that wereunclean, and when these came from the king's table, if Daniel ate them, he would be breaking the Law of Moses as given inthe Book of Leviticus, and thus he would be defiled. Remember that the food which was allowed to Israel was to be killed ina certain way. The blood must be effectually drained from the flesh, for he that ate the blood defiled himself thereby.
Now, the Babylonians did not kill their beasts in that way and the eating of flesh which had not been killed according tothe Law would have defiled Daniel. You know how careful the Jews are to this day with regard to the butchering of the foodthey eat. More than that, usually such a king as Nebuchadnezzar, before he ate food, dedicated it to his god. Bel-Merodachwas greatly venerated by Nebuchadnezzar as god, so that a libation of wine was poured out to Merodach, and a certain portionof food was put aside, so that, in fact, it was offered to idols-and Daniel felt that he would be defiled if he ate of meatwhich might be unclean, and which was certain to be offered to idols-it would be breaking the Law of God-so Daniel would noteat it.
But the temptation to do so must have been very strong, for somebody would say, "Why, what difference can it make what youeat, or what you drink?" Under the Christian dispensation, it might be another matter, but under the Jewish dispensation,it made a great deal of difference whether a man ate or drank certain things. Others would say, "Why is Daniel so particular?There have been other Jews here who have unhesitatingly eaten the king's meat. We read of king Jehoiakim, that he had a portionfrom the king's table every day, and he does not seem to have made any objection! Why does this young fellow put his backup so and make himself so odd, and so different from everybody else? There is no use in being so strict and sticking out aboutlittle things." So the temptation came to Daniel with great speciousness.
Then, the temptation seemed the road to honor. To consent to eat of the king's meat and to drink of the king's wine, seemedto be the way to get on in Babylon. They would say to Daniel, "Surely, if you begin by objecting to what the monarch sendsyou from his table, you will never get on at court. People with a conscience should not go to court." I do not say that, today,but I do think that they ought not to be members of Parliament! It must be amazingly difficult for a man with a conscienceto go in and out there! But for Daniel to begin with a conscience like this, so particularly tender that it was offended bya glass of the king's wine, or a morsel of the king's meat, why, any good old fatherly man would have said, "My boy, you willnever get on-your religion will always stand in your way. I am sure you will never come to be much." That would have beena great mistake, however, for Daniel became a great ruler and he prospered in the world through that very conscientiousnesswhich it was thought would spoil all his prospects!
Somebody would whisper in Daniel's ear, "It is the law of the land. The king, who is supreme, has ordered that you shouldeat this portion and drink this measure of wine each day." Yes, but whatever the law may be, and whatever custom may be, theservants of God serve a higher King and they have but one rule and one custom! "We ought to obey God rather than man." Theyare ready to be the most obedient subjects up to a certain point, but when the Law of God comes in, then are they dogged toa degree of obstinacy. They can burn, but they cannot turn-they can die, but they cannot deny the Law of the Lord, their God!
In Daniel's case, if he had done what it was proposed to him to do, it would have been giving up the separated life. He feltthat if he constantly fed upon the luxurious food of the king, he would be reckoned to be a Chaldean like the king,
and so, to keep up his separation as belonging to the chosen seed, of whom Balaam prophesied, "The people shall dwell alone,and shall not be reckoned among the nations," Daniel would not eat of the royal fare which was provided for him. Had he doneso, he would have melted into a Chaldean and given up being an Israelite, to whom belonged the promises. This is the temptationof the present day. Profess to be a Christian, but float along the common current of the world! Take the name of a Christianand go to your place of worship, and go through your ceremonies-but do not bring your religion into your business! Act asother people do! This is the temptation of the time-as the majority of men think, so think you-and as the majority of mensay, so say you! And as the majority of Christian professors talk, so talk you! This is the Satanic temptation which is wreckingour churches and doing, I know not how much mischief to men of God! But Daniel, though tempted strongly to do like that, wouldnot yield. He "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the winewhich he drank."
Now, in our own case, what are the particular temptations to which we, as believing men and believing women, are exposed?
I cannot go into the question of individuals, but I can imagine someone here, tonight, who is in a position where he is askedto do what it is not right for him to do. But he says, "I shall be fired if I refuse to do it! I know others do it and I mustdo it." My dear young fellow, allow me to put before you, Daniel, who purposed in his heart that he would not eat the king'smeat. I talked, the other day, with a gentleman who was the trustee for one of the wealthiest men in England, and who nowis trustee of the money that the same gentleman has left to all his children. Those children have grown up and have come toyears of maturity, but they still make him the trustee, paying him for looking after all their money, which is an immenseamount. I was asking him how it was that he gained the confidence of the family so that they put him in such a position whereall that they have is under his care and discretion.
He said that he remembered, when he was but a boy, the head of the establishment said to him one day, "Say that I am out,"and he replied, "Please, Sir, I could not say that, for it would not be true." Of course the master was very angry and toldhim that he must not bring his scruples there, or he would never get on in life-but he never asked him to tell a lie again-andwhen somebody was needed to act as confidential clerk, that young fellow was selected and, knowing him to be one who wouldbe faithful and true, his master took the opportunity to promote him! And he put implicit confidence in him from that hour.Sometimes you will find that to be out and out for the right will be the making of you. I would not urge integrity upon youfrom such a motive, but, since the devil will tell you that it will be the ruin of you, I will urge you to stand fast to theright, to speak the truth at all times, to be straightforward, for you will find that honesty is the best policy. Any manwho speaks the truth will find it the best thing in the long run! To lie, to stray from the truth, to stall, to try to holdwith the hare and run with the hounds involves you in a world of difficulty and trouble! Be straight as Daniel was. The Lordhelp you to be so!
But now it comes to Christian people in another way. Some would tempt us to assist the cause of God by amusements. Christianpeople are asked to go to places, well, very doubtful places, to say the least, and sometimes this evil is introduced intoreligion, till, as one of our friends said most truly in prayer, tonight, they have brought the theater into the house ofGod! They have really done so and brought back chaos and old night, primeval darkness. Oh, that God would speak, again, andsay, "Let there be light," and chase these things of darkness away once and for all! I charge every Christian here to makehis resolve that, if others do these things, as for Daniel, he has purposed in his heart that he will not defile himself withthe king's meat, or with the wine which the king drank!
So today, again, there is the temptation of love for intellectual novelty. Instead of the old, old Gospel, and the old, oldBook, for which God be thanked forever, we are to place science, which is generally conjecture, in the place of Revelation-andthe thoughts of men are to cover and bury the sublime thoughts of God. I see ministers and churches deluded and led astrayby these temptations. As for me, if no one else will say it, I purpose in my heart not to defile myself with this portionof the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank. We need still to have old-fashioned Believers who will sing the versewe sang just now-
"Should all the forms that men devise Assault my faith with treacherous art, I'd call them vanity and lies, And bind the Gospelto my heart," God send us many Daniels of that sort!
And, besides this, we have, nowadays, the temptation to general laxity. People do, even Christian people do, what Christianpeople should not do. And they excuse themselves by quoting the example of other Christians, or by saying, "We are not soprecise as our fathers were." Has God changed? Is there not a text that says, "The Lord your God is a jealous God"? Does Hepermit His people to sin and take pleasure in it? And are we to forget that precept, "Be you holy, for I am holy"? Is thereto be no separation from the world? And is it no longer true that, "If any man loves the world, the love of the Father isnot in him"? Is there no such text as this, "Come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not theunclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LordAlmighty"? I pray you, Brothers and Sisters, now, if never before, tie everything up as tightly as you can! The storm is nowso heavy that you need to go with close-reefed sails. Oh, for a Daniel's declaration that you will not defile yourself withthe portion of the king's meat, or with the wine which he drank!
I could continue long at this point, but I have given you the general principle which you can work out for yourselves. Christianshave meat to eat of which the world knows not. We have our re-creation-that is the way to pronounce recreation-re-creation.We go to our Creator and He makes us anew. We have our nights of holy mirth. We have our days of delight. There is a King,a portion of whose meat we rejoice to eat, and of whose wine we delight to drink. But as to questionable things, things ofthe world, and all that tends towards departure from the living God, we say that, by His Grace, we determine not to defileourselves with them!
II. Now I come to the second point. THERE ARE RIGHT METHODS OF RESISTING TEMPTATION.
And the first is that the heart must be set. "Daniel purposed in his heart." He looked the matter up and down and he settledit in his heart. Before he asked Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego anything about it, he had made up his own mind. Oh, for amade-up mind! Oh, for the man who knows how to look at his compass and to steer his vessel where he ought to go! God grantyou Divine Grace, young man, to nail your colors to the mast and to be determined that you will keep to the right course,come fair wind or come foul! Daniel had settled it in his heart. The Grace of God is a great heart-settler. Where it comes,men become firm and positive, for the Lord teaches them to profit.
The next thing is that the life must be willing. Daniel was helped in carrying out his resolution by his own personal character.God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. Whenever a man is brought into favor andtender love, and is a good man, there is something about him that has commended itself. There is a something about him thatis lovable, or he would not have been loved. It is of no use for a man to say, "I have made up my mind upon certain things,"and to keep doggedly fighting over those matters, while, at the same time, the whole of his life is unkind, ungenerous andunlovable. Yes, by all manner of means be a martyr if you like, but do not martyr everybody else, for it is very possibleto get so much grit in you that you become all grit. There are some who have carried firmness into obstinacy and determinationinto bigotry, which is a thing to be shunned. Yield everything that may be yielded! Give up mere personal whims and oddities,but as for the things of God, stand as firm as a rock about them. God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with theprince who was set over him, but there was in Daniel, by God's Grace, a generosity and frankness and nobleness of characterwhich even the mighty Chaldean admired. Oh, for a grand character to support one's religious determination!
Then observe that the protest must be courteously borne. While Daniel was very decided, he was very courteous in his protests.He went to the prince and he told him his scruples. He requested that he might not be obliged to defile himself. There aremany ways of doing the same thing and some people always select the very ugliest way of doing everything. Let us ask for wisdomand discretion in doing that which is right. Firmness of purpose should be adorned with gentleness of manner in carrying itout. It was so with young Daniel.
Next to that, self-denial must be sought. I do not think that Daniel had any objection to eat flesh, or to drink wine, forhe evidently did both, according to other portions of this Book, but his objection was, for religious reasons, against theking's meat and the king's wine, so he said, "To make it clear that nothing that enters my lips has ever been dedicated toidols, let me have nothing to eat but vegetables-lentils, beans, peas and such like things-and for drink, let me have thatof which kings do not often take much, let me have nothing but water, in order to make quite sure that I have no libationthat has been offered to idols."
So Daniel and his three companions denied themselves luxuries, which, perhaps, they enjoyed as much as anybody else, so asby no means to defile themselves with anything which had been associated with the Babylonian idols. If you
will be out and out for God, you must expect self-denial and you will have to habituate yourself to it. Be ready for a badname; be willing to be called a bigot; be prepared for loss of friendships; be prepared for anything so long as you can standfast by Him who bought you with His precious blood. He that should run the gauntlet of earth and Hell for a thousand years,and yet hold fast his integrity, would be a gainer by all that he lost-he would gain an increase of eternal joy by all hesuffered. Therefore, I charge you, seek for the Daniel spirit.
And then the test must be boldly put. Daniel showed his faith when he said to Melzar, "Feed me and my three companions onthis common fare; give us nothing else. We do not ask you to leave us to our plan for twelve months; try us for a short time.I do not say a day or two; but take as many days as you like. Put us to the test and if, at the end of the appointed time,we are not all the better for our plain fare, then we will consider further, but, for the present, will you try us?" I thinkthat a Christian man should be willing to be tried. He should be pleased to let his religion be put to the test. "There,"he says, "hammer away if you like." Do you need to be carried to Heaven on a feather bed? Do you need to always be protectedfrom everybody's sneer and frown-and to go to Heaven as if you were riding in the procession on Lord Mayor's day? Well, ifso, you are very much mistaken if you think you are going to have it so! God give you courage, more and more of it, throughfaith in Himself! May you be willing to put your religion to every proper test, the test of life, and the test of death, too!
III. Now, in closing, I want to show you that THERE ARE CERTAIN POINTS WHICH WILL HAVE TO BE
PROVED BY EXPERIENCE. I speak, now, to you Christian people who hold fast by the old doctrines of the Gospel, who mean tohold fast by the old ways and will not be led astray by modern temptations. Now what have you to prove?
Well, I think that you have to prove that the old faith gives you a bright and cheerful spirit. Really, I cannot help laughing,sometimes, when I see myself as some other people see me. One gentleman describes me as having "settled down into an ever-deepeninggloom." It is a curious thing that I was not aware of this at all! You who know me and with whom I mix-have you noticed this"ever-deepening gloom" falling upon me? Do I preach like a man who has lost all the joy of life and all his comfort? I thinknot! If there is a happier man beneath the skies than I am, I will not change places with him, for I am perfectly satisfiedto take things as they come to me-and I am glad that he has more to rejoice in than I have! Yet I am sure I do not know whathe has that I have not. I have God in Heaven, I have God on earth! My heart is filled with an intense satisfaction in thefirm conviction that what I believe is true and that what I preach to you is true! I am ready to stand before the JudgmentSeat to give an account of what I have preached! That which I have asked you to believe, I myself believe, and if I am lostwith faith in Christ, and you are lost, well, we will both be lost and go down in the same ship, for I have not a little privateboat on the davits, ready to be let down, that I may got away by myself! I shall stick to the old ship and be the last manto leave it-and I shall not leave it-neither will the ship go down, but it will carry us all safely to the desired haven!
Well, dear Friends, if you hold by this truth, do not let that ever make you gloomy! Men talk of "Gloomy Calvinism!" Haveyou never read about that "awful gloomy Calvinism"? Think of Calvin, a man who suffered from somewhere about 83 separate diseases-themost pained and tortured of all men as to his body-yet look at his life and read his Commentaries and his other books, andsee the deep and wondrous calm that filled his mighty soul! There was nothing gloomy about his Calvinism-it was all brightand light and cheering to him. They do not know us, or they would not attack us as they do! Perhaps they would, though, forthe enemies of the Truth of God are always ready to lie in their throats.
Another point that we shall have to prove, dear Friends, is that the old faith promotes holiness of life. There are some whosay, "Those people cry down good works." Do we? If you bring them as a price to purchase salvation, we do cry them down. "Allour righteousnesses are as filthy rags" and, as somebody says, "The rags have the best of it, for they are worth more thanour righteousnesses." We do say that, but, though we cry down good works as a ground of confidence, we wish to abound in themmore and more to the glory of God! Go to some people and hear them talk about good works and go to other people and see themdone! We wish for you and for ourselves, that we may be so holy in our lives and so gracious in our conversation that evenour adversaries shall be compelled to say, "Whatever their doctrines may be, their lives are right." We have to prove thatwe are fatter and fairer than those who eat the king's meat! God help us to prove that we are more truthful and more godlythan those who have not like precious faith!
The next thing, dear Friends, is that we must prove that the old faith produces much love of our fellow men. You know that,nowadays, the watchword is, "the enthusiasm of humanity." It is a curious thing that those churches that have such a wonderful"enthusiasm of humanity" speak of us as if we were always talking of God and forgetting men. Well, well, which of these new-fangledchurches has an orphanage? It is very fine to talk about Christian socialism and what you are going to do for the poor-butwhat have you done? Much of it is just chatter, chatter and nothing else! But the godly, who feel that God is All, are, afterall, those who care most for men. And those who believe most firmly that the unbelieving sinner will be lost are the men whoare most anxious to have him saved! Those who believe that there is no salvation but by the precious blood are determinedthat Christ shall see of the travail of His soul. Those who believe that salvation is all of Grace, from first to last, aremoved to preach it with heart and soul wherever they have the opportunity. And, when God makes up His last account, it shallbe found, I trust, that the best lovers of men have been those who were first of all the best lovers of God! By your help,by your kindness, by your benevolence, prove it, so that when they come to look at you who have eaten nothing but vegetablesand who have drunk water, they may find that, after all, you appear fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children who atethe portion of the king's meat and drank his wine. Let our labor for the conversion of souls be incessant! Let us abound andsuperabound in it!
And then, dear Friends, let us prove that the old faith enables us to hare great patience in trial. He who believes the Doctrinesof Grace is the man who can suffer! He who falls back on Predestination and the Sovereignty of God is the man to bear burdensthat would crush another! And when we come to die, who will die best? Will it be the man who is trusting in his own righteousness,or trusting in constantly changing philosophy that alters like a chameleon, according to the light that falls on it? Who willdie best? You, with all this flimsy stuff, or he who, believing in his God, and in his Bible, falls back upon the blood andrighteousness of Jesus Christ?
Finally, Brothers and Sisters, what is needed is that we who hold the old faith should be in a better state of spiritual health.May every Grace be developed! May every faculty be consecrated! May your whole lives be spent in walking with God and mayyou be such men and women that, if we need evidences of the truth of our holy religion, we may bring you forward and say,"See what Grace has made them! A belief in the Doctrines of Grace has fashioned them as they are, and they, themselves, arethe proof of what they believe."
May God bless to many here the words which I have spoken so feebly-and may many a young man-
"Dare to be a Daniel! Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!"
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON. DANIEL 1.
Verse 1. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, andbesieged it. Sin always brings its punishment. King Jehoiakim did evil in the sight of the Lord, so God used Nebuchadnezzar,king of Babylon, to be the rod in His hand to scourge His sinful people and their wicked king.
2. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand. It was not merely that Nebuchadnezzar was strong enough to overcomethe Jews, but God handed over His people into Nebuchadnezzar's hand. The enemy cannot touch the Church of God without Divinepermission.
2. 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 hebrought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. See how holy things, once used for the noblest purposes, become ofno further service when the Spirit of God is gone from the Church. You know that when the Philistines captured the Ark ofGod, and put it in the temple of Dagon, the fish-god fell down broken before the Ark. Nothing of this kind happened in Babylon.The holy vessels were put into the heathen temple and no miraculous result followed, for God cares nothing for golden vesselsin and of themselves. When sin has polluted His people, their precious things are nothing to Him. They may go where men pleaseto carry them. All their value lies in God accepting the service rendered through them. So,
Brothers, you may keep up your attendance at the Lord's Supper, and your preaching, and your gathering for worship-but theywill all be nothing without the Spirit of God!
Look how the Lord's Supper is turned into the sacrifice of the "mass," and how Baptism is represented as the channel or mediumof regeneration, when once the Spirit of God has gone from the Divinely-appointed ordinances! Besides these holy vessels,Nebuchadnezzar took the best of the people of the land and carried them away captive. He singled out the rich and the noble-thosewho had education and other attainments-while he left the poorest of the land behind. Sometimes those who are the most exaltedwill have the most suffering.
3. 4. And the king spoke 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-youths-
4. In whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful 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 theChaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar was, in many respects, an enlightened ruler. He looked upon this as one of the best things thathe could do for his court and vast empire, that he should pick out the best of the young men of every nation, who should bringtheir national knowledge with them, and then, being sprightly in body and nimble in mind, should be trained to become counselors,or advisers of the court, or be prepared to fill important offices as they became vacant.
5. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank. Treating them exceedinglywell, thinking, perhaps, that the very food they ate might help to tone their minds for the work to which he had called them.He wished to make them into true Chaldeans, so he ordained that they must eat of the meat he ate and drink of the wine hedrank.
5. So nourishing them three years. Putting them to college, as it were, for three years-
5, 6. 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. You know these men's names, you will recognize them when you hear them in their altered form.
7. Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names. This was to Chaldeanize them, to take away from them everything Jewish.
7. For he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah,of Abednego. Now these young men's Jewish names had, each one of them, the name of God worked into their texture. I need notstay to bring it out, but there is a signification about each name connecting it with God. You hear in two of them the soundof El, which is a name of God, and in the other two, the termination Iah, which brings out the name Jehovah. The new namesthat were given to them appear to have been connected with idols-at all events, it was so with Belteshazzar and Abednego,or Abednebo. The intent was to make Babylonians of them.
8. But Daniel purposed in his heart.-I always like to come across a, "but," when there is any scheme of this kind. When theplan is to seduce men from right, then it is a happy thing to have a but, but, but, "But Daniel purposed in his heart," determined,settled, fixed it.
8. That he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank. Daniel here mentionsonly himself, but the three others were one with him in the resolve and the request. He was the leader. Sometimes there wouldbe no Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, if there was not a Daniel. The other three might never have had the strength of mindif it had not been for the Daniel who dared to stand alone. But having such a brave leader, they dared to stand with him.We often owe much to spiritually-minded men who are able to help others to take a right course.
8, 9. Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel intofavor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. It was like the case of Joseph and Potiphar. Daniel's gentle disposition,his loving ways, his open and frank spirit had won upon the prince of the eunuchs, so that he not only regarded him with favor,but even had a tender love for him. God has the hearts of all men under His control and He may give His people favor wherethey least expect it.
10. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your meat and your drink: forwhy should he see your faces worse looking than the children which are of your sort? Then shall you make me en-
danger my head to the king. What a reign of terror there is in a despotic country where kings can do as they will! For thesmallest offense, a man's head may be in danger!
11, 12. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Proveyour servants, I beseech you, ten days; and let them give us vegetables to eat, and water to drink. I like it that the HolySpirit uses their old names whenever it is proper that they should be used. May we never lose our old names! I mean, our newnames, for they have grown old with some of us now! May we always be known as the servants of God and not as Chaldeans! Theprince of the eunuchs gave Daniel a kind of hint, that, if the officer under him chose to take the responsibility of alteringthe food and drink, he might do so, and the prince would not interfere with the experiment. So Daniel turns to Melzar andsays to him, "Prove your servants for a suitable time. Let us have vegetables to eat, and water to drink." He put his requestin an extreme light in order to be quite sure that nothing brought to him would come from the king's table.
13. Then let our countenances be looked upon before you, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of theking's meat: and as you see, deal with your servants. "If we do fall off and grow thin, and look pale and ill through thiscoarse food, as you think it, well then, alter it. But if, on the other hand, we should be as well as those who have eatenthe king's meat, and drunk the king's wine, then let us keep to our vegetables and water."
14. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. A round number, standing for a sufficient period toafford a fair test.
15. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer-and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eatthe portion of the king's meat. I doubt not that the satisfaction of heart which they had in keeping themselves undefiledtended to give them a good digestion and thus they were more likely to be well than were the others.
16. 17. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them vegetables. Asfor these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom. God can help us in our study. We maypray as much over what we have to learn as over what we have to do. I believe that, often, a difficult problem can be bestsolved by prayer. All true knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom are the gifts of God.
17-19. And Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he shouldbring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; andamong them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. They weremade to be his attendants, his advisers-these very men who had been so absurd as not to eat the food from the royal table-soobstinate as to consider that they would defile themselves if they did! It is these absurd and obstinate people who cannotbe bent, but must be straight-the upright men who shall stand before kings-for God is with them.
20. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than allthe magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. They communed with God and that was better than being magiciansor stargazers! Men of God are ten times better than all that lot put together!
21. And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus. Those two words summarize the whole of Daniel's history-"Danielcontinued." May God give to each of us here Divine Grace to continue as Daniel did!