Sabbath, January 22, 2011

“… The Lord is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you….” 2 Chronicles 15:2.

Chosen and proven

1. What order did the Babylonian king give Ashpenaz, the master of the eunuchs? What else did he command?
Daniel 1:3-5 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.

“At the very outset of their career there came to them a decisive test of character. It was provided that they should eat of the food and drink of the wine that came from the king’s table. In this the king thought to give them an expression of his favor and of his solicitude for their welfare.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 481.

2. Who were among the selected ones? What did their names signify?
Daniel 1:6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

“In the Hebrew, Daniel signified, ‘judge for God;’ Hananiah, ‘gift of the Lord;’ Mishael, ‘who is what God is;’ and Azariah, ‘whom Jehovah helps.’ ” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, p. 23.

“Among those who maintained their allegiance to God were Daniel and his three companions–illustrious examples of what men may become who unite with the God of wisdom and power. From the comparative simplicity of their Jewish home, these youth of royal line were taken to the most magnificent of cities and into the court of the world’s greatest monarch….

“Seeing in these youth the promise of remarkable ability, Nebuchadnezzar determined that they should be trained to fill important positions in his kingdom. That they might be fully qualified for their lifework, he arranged for them to learn the language of the Chaldeans and for three years to be granted the unusual educational advantages afforded princes of the realm.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 480.

Significant resolve

3. What names did the master of the eunuchs give them? What did these names mean, and to what did they refer?
Daniel 1:7 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.

“This change of names was probably made on account of the signification of the words…. Since these

[Hebrew] names had some reference to the true God and signified some connection with His worship, they were changed to names which had definitions linking them to the heathen divinities and worship of the Chaldeans. Thus Belteshazzar, the name given to Daniel, signified ‘prince of Bel;’ Shadrach, ‘servant of Sin’ (the moon god); Meshach, ‘who is what Aku is’ (Aku being the Sumerian equivalent of Sin, the name of the moon god); and Abednego, ‘servant of Nebo.’ ” –The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, p. 23. These names referenced heathen deities.

“The names of Daniel and his companions were changed to names representing Chaldean deities. Great significance was attached to the names given by Hebrew parents to their children. Often these stood for traits of character that the parent desired to see developed in the child….

“The king did not compel the Hebrew youth to renounce their faith in favor of idolatry, but he hoped to bring this about gradually. By giving them names significant of idolatry, by bringing them daily into close association with idolatrous customs, and under the influence of the seductive rites of heathen worship, he hoped to induce them to renounce the religion of their nation and to unite with the worship of the Babylonians.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 480, 481.

4. What resolution did Daniel make in his heart? Who looked upon this resolution with pleasure and impressed the mind of the king’s officer?
Daniel 1:8, 9 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.

“But a portion having been offered to idols, the food from the king’s table was consecrated to idolatry; and one partaking of it would be regarded as offering homage to the gods of Babylon. In such homage, loyalty to Jehovah forbade Daniel and his companions to join. Even a mere pretense of eating the food or drinking the wine would be a denial of their faith. To do this would be to array themselves with heathenism and to dishonor the principles of the law of God.

“Nor dared they risk the enervating effect of luxury and dissipation on physical, mental, and spiritual development. They were acquainted with the history of Nadab and Abihu, the record of whose intemperance and its results had been preserved in the parchments of the Pentateuch; and they knew that their own physical and mental power would be injuriously affected by the use of wine.

“Daniel and his associates had been trained by their parents to habits of strict temperance. They had been taught that God would hold them accountable for their capabilities, and that they must never dwarf or enfeeble their powers.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 481, 482.

Faith, obedience, and blessing

5. What did Daniel propose to the king’s steward? What was the result after ten days had passed?
Daniel 1:12-15 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.

“Daniel and his companions knew not what would be the result of their decision; they knew not but that it would cost them their lives; but they determined to keep the straight path of strict temperance even when in the courts of licentious Babylon.” –The Youth’s Instructor, August 18, 1898.

“This officer saw in Daniel good traits of character. He saw that he was striving to be kind and helpful, that his words were respectful and courteous, and his manner possessed the grace of modesty and meekness. It was the good behavior of the youth that gained for him the favor and love of the prince.” –The Youth’s Instructor, November 12, 1907.

6. What did the steward do after making this experience? How did the Lord reward the faithfulness of His children?
Daniel 1:16, 17 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.

“The Lord regarded with approval the firmness and self-denial of the Hebrew youth, and their purity of motive; and His blessing attended them…. The promise was fulfilled, ‘Them that honor Me I will honor.’ 1 Samuel 2:30. As Daniel clung to God with unwavering trust, the spirit of prophetic power came upon him. While receiving instruction from man in the duties of court life, he was being taught by God to read the mysteries of the future and to record for coming generations, through figures and symbols, events covering the history of this world till the close of time.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 484, 485.

7. What conclusion did the king draw after his final examination of these young men?
Daniel 1:18-20 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.

“Read the Old and New Testaments with a contrite heart. Read them prayerfully and faithfully, pleading that the Holy Spirit will give you understanding. Daniel searched the portion of the Old Testament which he had at his command, and made the word of God his highest instructor. At the same time he improved the opportunities that were given him to become intelligent in all lines of learning. His companions did the same….” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 357, 358.

“… Their learning did not come by chance. They obtained their knowledge by the faithful use of their powers, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They placed themselves in connection with the Source of all wisdom, making the knowledge of God the foundation of their education. In faith they prayed for wisdom, and they lived their prayers. They placed themselves where God could bless them…. And God Himself was their teacher.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 486.

For personal study

Prophets and Kings, pp. 478-490.