“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”
– Daniel 1:17 [NIV]
Today’s verse says that God gave Daniel and his friends the knowledge and understanding. Now in this passage, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are all supposed to eat what the king has commanded. It was from the king’s table so one would believe it to be good—fit for a king. However, Daniel “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine,” and he asked if he could eat his own diet of food (v. 8). The official agreed to let Daniel and his friends eat what they wanted for ten days. After the ten days, they were “healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (v. 15). This could cause some people to have problems digesting.
So often we look at Daniel and his friends going against the king’s rules and following a special diet of vegetables and water. We conclude that these vegetables and the water provided the four young men with better nourishment, as the passage states, and that is what we take from this passage. However, we cannot forget that it was God who gave these men the knowledge and understanding. God was and is at the forefront.
There are times in our own lives when we use our God given gifts and resources and find great success. We start to attribute this success to our hard work, our talents, etc., but we need already remember that God gave us everything—God gets the glory.
Today remind yourself of what God has given you and take the time to thank Him.
In a world where people often do whatever it takes to get somewhere, we always have to be on guard and use good discernment. In 3 John, we learn about Diotrephes, a man who, as John puts it, “loves to be first among them” (v. 9). We all know those people, the ones who have to be in charge and usually have to be found right no matter the topic at hand. In the letter, John wrote that “the one who does good is of God” (v. 11). If we remember that, and use God’s Word as the measuring stick, we will make wise decisions.
A person who is first is not always right. We see this in politics with our governing bodies, with company leadership, and even on the school playground. Having a need to be seen above others, usually has less to do with being right, than it does about being in the spotlight. Note how often Jesus did not want the attention, but He was always right. He could have spent hours trying to show people how He was right, but that wasn’t His purpose. He was humble and focused. It was the people around Him that wanted to make Him king.
We are supposed to obey our leadership and respect their authority. This doesn’t mean that we allow God’s design for our lives to be negatively effected by those who wish to be first. When a person tries to be first, they forget one big detail—God is first. No one else can be first no matter how hard a person tries. As you live along side the Diotrephes of our day, those who have to be first and wish to toss around accusations and do whatever it takes to look like the top dog, remember Who is first. Remember Who you serve. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego showed us, if it goes against what God desires, do not bow down.
“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” – 1 Peter 5:5 [ESV]