By Jeffery M. Leonard, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biblical & Religious Studies, Samford University
PRAY WITH PASSION
Daniel 2:13–23, 27–28a
The push and pull of various political factions can make our form of government seem a genuine mess. Democracy can hardly hold a candle, however, to the mysteries, intrigues and hidden dangers of monarchy.
Consider how many aides, generals and royal rivals met an untimely doom just in the passing of the torch of rule from David to Solomon. As one junior officer reflects when speaking to a general in the movie “The Thin Red Line,” “The closer you are to Caesar, the greater the fear.”
Living in exile and enlisted to become members of Nebuchadnezzar’s royal court, Daniel and his friends would come to know this fear all too well.
In the first chapter of Daniel, the danger facing the young men revolved around their refusal to eat nonkosher food. As it happened, the youths’ request for a different diet was granted by their supervisor.
Without God’s unique blessing upon them, however, things could have taken a much darker turn. Now, in the book’s second chapter, Daniel and his companions would face an even greater danger.
When problems arise, choose to seek God. (13–16)
Seemingly without warning, word arrived that Daniel and his friends were to be put to death. Though no doubt panic stricken, Daniel kept his wits about him and spoke “with tact and discretion” to the officer sent to carry out the execution.
Learning that it was not just himself and his friends who were to be executed but all the wise men of Babylon, Daniel begged to know what could possibly explain the king’s harsh decree.
The officer explained that Nebuchadnezzar had had a dream and had called for his sages to interpret it. But Nebuchadnezzar had refused to tell the wise men the contents of his dream. Apparently to certify the accuracy of their interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar had insisted that the wise men not only tell the king what his dream meant but also tell him what he had actually dreamed. This they most certainly could not do.
Pray and expectantly seek God’s wisdom and guidance. (17–19)
Daniel pleaded with the king’s official to give him just a bit of time so he could interpret the dream for the king. Granted this short reprieve, Daniel turned to his friends, not for advice but for prayer. He urged them “ask the God of the heavens for mercy concerning this mystery,” and plead they did.
With their very lives on the line, the friends prayed that they and the other sages of Babylon might be spared from the king’s decree. That very night, God answered their prayers and in a vision revealed to Daniel the mystery that had eluded the rest of the king’s dream interpreters.
Acknowledge God as the source of the answer. (20–23, 27–28a)
Even before he reported the news to the king or the king’s official, Daniel offered words of praise to God.
Freely acknowledging that wisdom and power, knowledge and sovereignty belonged to God alone, Daniel praised God for disclosing this mystery to him and making known to him the contents of the king’s dream.
This attitude of praise and submission would endure even as Daniel appeared before King Nebuchadnezzar.
When the king demanded to know whether Daniel could reveal the dream and its interpretation, the young Hebrew firmly denied that he could. God alone, Daniel insisted, could reveal this mystery, so Daniel could only convey to the king what God Himself had revealed.