Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 4

Chapter 4:  Nurtured by God in a Foreign Land ~ Daniel 1:8-21

Q1 – How did Daniel, even though he was in a position of servitude, gain control of this situation and bring about the outcome he desired?

A1 – It would be reasonable to think that for someone who had been forcefully uprooted from their homeland and placed in a position of servitude, they would feel great anger and resentment toward their captors. Daniel was wise enough to control any such emotions he may have had, and rather than lash out, he carefully considered his words before he spoke them.

He thought about things from the other person’s point of view. What would the chief official be concerned about if Daniel proposed he and his friends eat different food and drink only water? He prepared a counter argument ahead of time and presented it calmly and logically. He provided the official with an acceptable exit plan should things not turn out as desired. There would be no downside for the official, and as it turned out, all the subjects became healthier, which made the official look good in his job performance as well. The official then knew he could trust Daniel.

As you read the book of Daniel, you can see how Daniel gained the favor and trust of those who were over him. He spoke logically and rationally, relying upon the wisdom God supplied him. He thought about things from the other person’s point of view, and always did the right thing no matter what. Instead of pilfering from the king’s riches, he proved himself a good steward. In so doing, he gained the king’s trust.

When doing the right thing ran counter to the king’s commands, Daniel did not waver in his faith and trust in God, no matter the possible outcomes. He would rather endure the fury of man than abandon his faith in God. When the king and everyone around subsequently witnessed God’s powerful interventions on behalf of Daniel, they had no choice but to respect Daniel and hold him in high regard.

Q2 – Daniel, who was a young person at this time, showed great wisdom here and throughout the rest of his life. Consider wisdom and its great value. (Read and dwell on Proverbs 4 and Proverbs 8 and other scriptures on wisdom.)

A2 – Wisdom acts as a filter in our brains. Before ever speaking or acting, a wise person first runs their thoughts, words, and actions through their wisdom filter. As a person accumulates more knowledge, understanding, and life experiences, their filter becomes more refined. They become better able to understand what’s really going on in a given situation and to discern between what is true and what is not, even when appearances are deceptive. A person’s wisdom filter helps them to think through the consequences before they take action, and to choose the action that is most appropriate and beneficial, rather than the action that may be the most gratifying.

On the most intimate level, a person’s wisdom filter helps them to control their mind and their thoughts, which serves as the root of all words and actions. The apostle Paul stresses the importance of our hearts and minds and urges us to think on good things in In Philippians 4:8 (NIV): “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

The book of Proverbs is filled with references to wisdom, and chapters 4 and 8 are especially rich. Read these chapters through and find the verses that really speak to you. What other scriptures concerning wisdom come to mind?

Q3 – Does God bestow wisdom on His people today? (See James 1:5) Consider the value of wisdom in your life.

A3 –  Our God is the same God who cared for Daniel, even though Christians today live under a different covenant. Daniel lived under the Old Law given to Moses, but when Jesus came, He fulfilled the requirements of that law. Upon Jesus’ resurrection, He ushered in the new era under which we live today.

However, even though the law under which we live has changed, God Himself remains the same. “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.“ (Psalm 90:2 NIV) His characteristics do not change through the ages. He loves good and hates evil.

In James 1:5 (NIV), we are told to ask God for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Wisdom helps us to think, speak and act in accordance with the will of God. It helps us to discern right from wrong and to use good judgement in whatever situation we find ourselves. Think of how wise words or wise actions, either yours or someone else’s, have impacted you personally.