“In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” Daniel 1:20
We began this evening by sharing what we know about the book of Daniel. Here are some things that we listed:
- It’s about Daniel
- The fiery furnace
- The lion’s den
- Daniel was very wise
Tonight’s text is a small verse, but we can learn a lot when we look at this verse very carefully. First, we learn that there is a king. The king mentioned here is King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.
King Nebuchadnezzar is the king who declared war on Jerusalem. After winning the war he told told his servants to go and capture some of the young men from Israel. He had some very specific guidelines: The men had to be from noble background, be handsome, smart and healthy. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted the best! Daniel was one of these men who was taken to Babylon.
Daniel 1:20 also lets us know that Daniel and his friends were 10 times smarter than the magicians and enchanters. We find out in this verse that Daniel and his friends were considered wiser than the wisest in the kingdom, smarter than the smartest. How was this possible? How could this be? We need to go back to the beginning of the story.
Daniel and his friends were taken to live in the king’s palace. There they were to be part of a 3 year program to learn the language and literature of Babylon. They were also assigned to eat food from the King’s table. King Nebuchadnezzar wanted these men to become the best– he wanted them to eat good food as to keep up their strength.
Daniel asked the king’s servant to be given something else to eat. He did not want to eat the food from the king’s table.
Why? Babylon is an idol worshiping place. The people of Babylon worshipped idols and practiced many things that the Israelites as God’s people had been taught was wrong. The food from Nebuchadnezzar’s table was also given to idols as a gift and poured out as an offering to the pagan gods. Daniel did not want to be a part of that.
We read how Daniel and his friends were healthier and stronger than any of the other men after choosing to eat only vegetables. God blessed them– they came out as the best of everyone at the end of three years!
Daniel and his friends found themselves in a hard situation. They were stuck in a place that went against everything they knew was right. They made a choice. Even in this place they were going to stay faithful to God: They decided to refuse to be filled up with anything but God– no matter what and to watch for what God would do. God filled them fuller than full. We read tonight that they managed to do better than excellent work as they brought glory to God, despite the threat of execution, fiery furnaces and lions!
We took a container of rice that looked almost full. This represented all of the things that we try to fill up on. Next, we took a tennis ball and tried to add it to the container. We saw that there wasn’t enough room. This tennis ball represented God. God cannot be added as an afterthought. We needed to start over. As we emptied the container, we decided it would be best if we put God in first– and then an amazing thing happened! We were able to add all of the rice to the container. Putting the tennis ball in first we could fit everything in.
Nobody can fill themselves up– many people try– but it is only God who grants success. We need to learn to be like Daniel and to fill ourselves with God first and then allow him to fill us up.
We left with the “Daniel Challenge” and these words from Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”