As I was drifting off to sleep last night, it occurred to me that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego might just be called the “A Team” of the Old Testament. Unlike Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, who were called “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13), these four were the cream of the crop, the best of the best of the captives who were taken into exile in Babylon. Scripture tells us they were “from the royal family and nobility” and also “young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.” I wish my resume was that impressive!
In terms of the Upper Story, there can be no doubt that God had plans for these men, even as he was allowing them to be dragged out of Jerusalem. Their stories of faith inspire us to this day, don’t they? In only the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign as king, God calls on Daniel to be his prophetic mouthpiece. How challenging is that?? And can you imagine yourself standing in the plain of Dura while all around you everyone else except your two friends is on their face before Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue? This reminds me of what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” We need each other, don’t we?
But I’m also taken with a couple of minor details in the story of Daniel and his friends. The first is found in a conversation between Arioch, the commander of the King’s guard, and Daniel. Scripture tells us that when Arioch had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, “Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.” (Dan. 2:14) One of the first principles of conflict management is to get the facts, isn’t it? The next is to approach the conflict from reason, not emotion. Daniel did both. Even if my conflicts aren’t life threatening, I can learn from that, you know? And following any kind of trouble with prayer is always the right choice!
The next detail is the phrase “at Daniel’s request.” This is found in the follow-up to Daniel interpreting the king’s dream. For revealing the mystery of the dream, Daniel is placed in a high position, lavished with gifts, made ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed in charge of all its wise men. With all those accolades, it might have been easy for Daniel to get puffed up and territorial. He might have even thought of himself as more important than anyone else. But he doesn’t. Instead, he remembers his friends, and asks that they be promoted, too. That’s what I call the ‘abundance mentality.’ There’s plenty of good stuff to go around; enough for me and you, too.
I don’t know about you, but I want to live my life like that. I want to hold stuff loosely and my family and friends tight to me. I never want to seek to be in conflict with others, but I don’t want to run from it either. Those are two little lessons that I think are important to add to what we’re learning in God’s Story. I hope you think so, too!