Trial of Daniel

(Dan 1:3-8 NIV)  Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility– {4} young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. {5} The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. {6} Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. {7} The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. {8} But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

The first trial of Daniel was whether he would allow himself to be corrupted by the environment. Daniel was placed in a more luxurious environment and given royal food and wine yet he chose not to defile himself with these.  Many of those meats provided for the king’s table were forbidden by the Jewish law. Daniel knew these delicates would too much gratify the flesh but chose not to eat and drink things consecrated to idols.

Daniel not only gave up luxuries to obey God’s laws, he took the risk that his decision would not be well received by the king or he would be mocked at by his peers.

It is never easy to purpose to follow God’s laws when succumbing to temptation seems more attractive and easier. But like Daniel we need to choose God above all these. As a result of Daniel’s stand, God promoted him to great honour. He won the respect instead of the scorn and ridicule of those in authority.

The next trial of Daniel is whether he has the courage to tell the king bad things that will befall him. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that no one in his kingdom could interpret except Daniel. When Daniel heard the dream, he hesitated for a while because he knew that it prophesied that bad things will befall the king but decided that he had to deliver the truth.

(Dan 4:19-27 NIV)  Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! {20} The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, {21} with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air– {22} you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth. {23} “You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’ {24} “This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: {25} You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. {26} The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. {27} Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

Like Daniel we need to be respectful to our superiors. Yet when it is time to tell them truth that hurts, we must not hold back. We need to have the courage to correct even our superiors in love and respect.

The final trial of Daniel concerns how he maintained his integrity and uprightness even in the midst of persecution. Daniel is Prime Minister under the third ruler Darius the Mede. He had done so well that he became the envy of those around him. Out of envy they plotted to have him thrown into the lion’s den.

(Dan 6:4-7 NIV)  At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. {5} Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” {6} So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and said: “O King Darius, live forever! {7} The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.

There are many things Daniel could have done to prevent himself from getting into trouble. He could have stopped praying for just thirty days. He had been so faithful in the past surely God would not mind a lapse of thirty days? He could have prayed with his windows closed for a change so that others would not know that he was praying to his God. But Daniel did not budge.

(Dan 6:10 NIV)  Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Do we compromise our values when we face pressure? Daniel would not even compromise in the face of death. We may face pressures from our peers, our bosses or from our financial difficulties. Like Daniel, we need to determine not to compromise any of our Christian values.