Read Daniel 1:17-21. What is the key to the success of the four men? (See also Job 38:36, Prov. 2:6, James 1:5).
After three years of training in the “Babylonian University”, the four Hebrews are brought before the king for the final examination. They are not only healthier than the other students, they surpass them in knowledge and wisdom. The four are immediately hired to serve the king. We shouldn’t forget that this “knowledge and wisdom” is no doubt comprised of a lot of paganism. Yet they learn it anyway, and obviously they learn it well, too, even if they don’t believe it.
Nebuchadnezzar may think that such accomplishment would have something to do with the palace diet and the training program the four students have undergone. However, Daniel and his companions know, and the narrative clearly shows, that their superior performance owes nothing to the Babylonian system. Everything comes from God. What a powerful example of what God can do for those who trust Him. We should not fear the overwhelming power of media, governments, and other institutions that may threaten to destroy our identity as God’s children. As we place our confidence in God, we can be sure that He can sustain us in difficult moments and preserve us against all odds. The key is for us to make the right choices when confronted with challenges to our faith.
Looking at Daniel 1, we learn some very important lessons about God: (1) God is in control of history. (2) God gives wisdom so that we can navigate the hostile environment of our culture and society. (3) God honors those who trust in Him through inner conviction and lifestyle.
The chapter concludes by pointing out that “Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus” (Dan. 1:21, NKJV). The mention of Cyrus here is significant: it provides a glimpse of hope amid an experience of exile. Cyrus is the one chosen by God to liberate His people and allow them to go back to Jerusalem. Though the chapter begins with the appearance of defeat and exile, it concludes with a glimpse of hope and a homecoming. This is our God: even amid the most difficult moments of our lives, He always opens a window of hope so that we can see the glory and joy that lie beyond the suffering and pain.