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A BOY HERO
‘Daniel purposed in his heart.’
Let young people take note of Daniel’s example. It was because as a boy he could act with such courage and faith that he grew to be one of the noblest of Scripture characters.
I. Daniel’s temptation.—He and his companions were chosen, among others, to be trained for the special service of the king. This would help to fit Daniel for the useful purpose God intended him to fulfil. The sin involved in eating the food from the royal table arose from two things—first, the Jewish law forbade the use of certain animals for food which might be in common use in Babylon, and, secondly, it was a custom in heathen countries to offer of that which was eaten to their gods. Many things made the temptation severe. It was an appeal to his vanity. There was opened before him the prospect of rising to eminence in the king’s service—why be so scrupulous? To refuse seemed an impertinence to the king, and injurious to himself. How many have fallen through resolving, in a wrong sense, not ‘to stand in their own light.’ The ambition to ‘get on’ has ruined many. He was a captive, and was therefore under the authority of his captor. Could he not yield, and throw the responsibility upon Nebuchadnezzar? as many a youth in a place of business has consented to act against his own conscience at the command of his employer.
II. His resistance.—He acted from a ‘heart purpose.’ He had evidently been devoutly trained, though nothing can be known of his parents; but he remembered and acted upon their teaching. A youth without principle may do right when right is popular. Daniel did it because it was right. He could meet punishment and even death, but could not be false to his own conscience and to God. Yet he proceeded wisely and modestly. There are ways of resisting temptation which are almost as wrong as the sin to which the temptation would lead. Daniel acted as became his youth, recognised the position of the prince of the eunuchs, sympathised with his difficulty, and urged that the matter should be put to the test.
Many things make his resistance more important: (1) It was his first temptation in Babylon. Much depends upon the first step. Failure here will make resistance more difficult in the future; while a resolute stand now will make other victories possible. Beware of first compromises, especially in little things. (2) It helped his companions. He seems to have been prominent among them. They will find it more difficult to stand if he should yield. Think not only of your own souls, but of your influence upon others. We do not stand alone, nor do we fall alone. (3) It was prompted by faith in God. Daniel did not fear the physical consequences of his action as the prince of the eunuchs did. God becomes the strength and sufficiency of all those who dare to obey Him. Pulse was a kind of coarse grain or pease; this, with the blessing of God, would do more for his bodily appearance than the king’s dainties.
III. The result was as Daniel expected. God was overruling all. (1) He gave Daniel favour with the prince. This helped the issue. See how God was working for Daniel before Daniel made his stand for Him. (2) He made the physical result all that could be desired. Faith was vindicated as it always is. Chrysostom says of these four ‘that they had better health for their spare diet; and their good conscience and merry heart were a continual feast unto them. They also had God’s blessing on their coarser fare, which was the main matter that made the difference.’ (3) He gave special wisdom. Like Solomon, they sought not their own glory, but God’s, and God gave greater honour to themselves.
(1) ‘We have in Daniel’s life a wonderful illustration of the value and power of home training. So well was he instructed, so deeply was the influence of that home impressed upon his heart, that when he was carried away as a captive to a heathen land, no temptation, no threat of danger, could make him swerve from his early teachings. We have a similar illustration in the story of Joseph. No heritage is so valuable as such home influence in your lives.’
(2) ‘I waited once by a great table on which the great Napoleon used to spread his maps, and plan out his campaigns, sticking there, there, there, pins with variously coloured heads to indicate his own armies and those of his enemies. The battle was fought first secretly there, before it could be fought at Austerlitz or at Jena. You are purposing somewhat in your heart. What? Do not think your life will be, can be, other than what you first, and secretly really think, love, will.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Daniel 1". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29