Daniel Character Bible Study Background and Lessons
Name: Daniel- God is Judge (Belteshazzar)- May Bel protect his life
Ancestry and family life: We know that Daniel was a young man of the nobility and was the cream of the crop of the Israelites (1:3-4). He was young, likely 16-18 at this time, good-looking, intelligent, and wise. He was taken as a captive for just these reasons. After a time of training in the Babylonian ways, culture, language, etc he entered the personal service of Nebuchadnezzar as an adviser and also an overseer. Daniel lived in Babylon for over 60 years, into his eighties.
When and where he lived: Daniel grew up in a turbulent time. He was born around 620 B.C. and taken to Babylon after the siege of Jerusalem ended (it started in 605 B.C.) Israel had been under attack for some time and succumbed to the world power of Babylon. Daniel, along with many other native Hebrews, were exiled in Babylon for many years. Jews loved their homeland, Jerusalem, and the temple, but were forced from their homes and taken to a foreign culture and country. Daniel was merely a boy when he was forced to leave everything he knew. All the rest of his life he lived in a pagan and sinful culture. There were continual temptations to live as the sinful people around him. Peer pressure was strong to get him to conform. A law was even passed forbidding the worship of anyone/anything except the Persian king. It was certainly not an easy life or an easy time in the history of Israel for Daniel to live. Daniel was about 80 when Persia conquered Babylon.
Events surrounding birth: No info.
Training and occupation: Daniel was one of the elite. He had a very high education and was trained in all the branches of wisdom of the day. He also studied literature and learned to be at least bilingual. In Babylon he served in a number of capacities. He was a wise man, an adviser in the personal service of Nebuchadnezzar (1:19-20). After Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar his dream and its interpretation he was made the overseer over the province of Babylon and all the wise men and magicians in the Babylonian kingdom. Daniel was also one of three satraps, who ruled over the Persian kingdom.
Place in history: Daniel has an important place in history. He wrote the book of Daniel. He served some of the most powerful leaders in the history of the world. He was an important adviser to them. He was an important prophet for the nation of Israel and for the whole world. Daniel was honored by God to the extent that God gave him many sensitive visions and mysteries regarding the future. Many important things were revealed to Daniel because God knew what kind of person Daniel was.
Special traits: God gave the Daniel (like Joseph) the gift to understand dreams and visions and give the correct interpretation (1:17, 2:24). Daniel also distinguished himself wherever he turned (6:3).
Weaknesses: None are recorded.
Strengths: See Daniel 6:4-5 for a summary of Daniel’s character. “Man of high esteem” (10:19).
Wisdom/discretion – Numerous examples can be seen throughout the book of Daniel. He was never one to act hastily, but he was patient and prayerful. He waited for the right time and opportunity to act and then he did so with modesty. See the example of his dealings with the commander of the officials in chapter 1 (1:8-16). See his example when Arioch came to execute him and all the other wise men (2:14-15).
Humility – In the eyes of the world Daniel had an amazing talent. He could have used it for his own gain, but he didn’t. It would have easy for him to become prideful, but he never did. Every time he had an opportunity to praise himself he gave all the credit, glory, thanks, and praise to God (2:28-30, 4:19). When he approached the commander of the officials he also did so with humility and respect. He didn’t care about gifts (5:17).
Reliance on God – Daniel faced a number of very difficult situations, trials, and temptations. He never relied on himself or trusted in his own strength or wisdom (though he was very smart and good looking too!). When faced with a dilemma, he prayed to God and asked God to show him His favor and compassion (1:9, 2:17-18, 6:10-11, 9)
Steadfast/uncompromising – Daniel lived in a foreign culture and was continually pressured to give in to sinful customs and practices (peer pressure). In each situation he chose instead to follow God unwaveringly. He wasn’t brash or prideful or rude about his beliefs, but he stood by his convictions with courage and boldness (1:8, 6:10-11).
Courage – Daniel was very bold. He pronounced the true meaning of dreams and visions, even when those would be negative and unpopular (4:19,27; 5:22,25-28)
Important acts and events: Interpreting the dreams for Nebuchadnezzar on two occasions. Interpreting the handwriting on the wall for Belshazzar. The lions’ den. The visions about the future of the world.
How he died: No info, but he did live a long life (into his eighties).
Lessons from his life:
Firstly we can learn from Daniel’s example in all the areas of his strengths. These alone comprise numerous lessons.
Also, from Daniel’s life (like with Ruth and Joseph) we see that God protects and blesses those who seek Him and put Him first. On several occasions Daniel risked His life in order to follow God and God protected him (6:20-23).
God throws down the prideful and raises up the humble. Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and the other satraps were all prideful. God punished all of them. Daniel was humble and obedient and God honored him by raising him to positions of leadership, giving him long life, entrusting visions and dreams to him, as well as with materials.
Note: It would have been easy for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to fall down and worship the true God and merely appear to worship the image, but they didn’t want to even give the appearance of this sin.
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