Online Bible Commentary
God Gave Them Knowledge and Skill
Daniel 1:17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. 21 Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus. 2:1 Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him. 2 Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. 3 And the king said to them, "I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream." (NKJV)
In 605 B.C. the Babylonians invaded Judah and conquered the Israelites. They carried back to Babylon gold from the temple, other treasure, and most of the noblemen of Jerusalem. Daniel was one of those captives. He was only a teenager at the time. Judah attempted to revolt from Babylonian control in 597 and 586 B.C. but each time the rebellions were put down and more Israelites were killed or exiled to Babylon. In the siege of 586 Jerusalem was destroyed, along with the temple.
Babylon was located in present day Iraq near where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers join. This was also thought to be the area of the Garden of Eden. The Euphrates River cut through the center of the city of Babylon. The Greek form of Babylon is Babel. This was also the location of the ruins of the tower of Babel.
The city of Babylon was located in the land of the Chaldeans. The Chaldean land extended southward to the Persian Gulf. Babylonians worshipped various gods. There were at least eight different temples for the gods in the city of Babylon.
In the previous passage, we saw that Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were being considered for positions as royal officials, referred to as eunuchs. Daniel and his friends were teenagers, probably about fifteen years old. They remained faithful to God and did not eat the food and drink blessed by the Babylonian gods. Instead they consumed only vegetables and water.
God granted them better health than those who defiled themselves by partaking of the king’s food and drink, which allowed the teenagers to continue their diet. This is not an endorsement of vegetarianism because God also gave us the animals to eat (Gen. 9:3). Instead this was an act of God’s providential care that allowed the young men not to sin by eating defiled food.
In this passage, we see that “God gave them (the four friends) knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom” (v. 17a). Additionally, God gave Daniel “understanding in all visions and dreams” (v. 17b). God was preparing them for the work He had ahead for them.
Then, “at the end of the days” (v. 18a), the three years that Daniel and his friends were indoctrinated, they were brought before King Nebuchadnezzar and were approved as royal officers (vv. 18b-19). “In all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm” (v. 20).
“Daniel continued (serving the king) until the first year of King Cyrus” (v. 21). King Cyrus of Persia captured Babylon in 539 B.C., some sixty-three years after Daniel became a royal officer.
Now we return to the present day, “the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign” (v. 1a). This seems to contradict the fact that Daniel was being indoctrinated for three years during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. However, previously Nebuchadnezzar had been a co-regent with his father, and there is also a difference in the Israelite and Babylonian calendars to consider.
At this time, “Nebuchadnezzar had dreams” (v. 1b). These dreams troubled his spirit and he could not sleep (v. 1c). So, he called upon “the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams” (v. 2). Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to not only analyze his dreams but also to tell him what he dreamed (v. 3). Next time we will see if they are up to the task.
The main theme of the book of Daniel is the sovereignty of God. This can be said to be the movement of the hand of God to accomplish His will. God had big plans for Daniel and his friends so he gave them knowledge and skill. He also opened doors for them.
God also gives us knowledge and skill to be used for His glory. He also opens doors for us, to be used by Him. It is up to us to be faithful to His calling. Sometimes we miss that calling when we are younger, as did I. But it is never too late to be used by God. He keeps the door open. Find your door. There are many such doors in your church. Find where your knowledge and skill can be used by God.