1 His life-long discipline started when he was young
He “resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine that he drank” (Daniel 1:8). That is when he was described as a “youth” (used 3x). Daniel made wise personal decisions that kept him on track throughout his highly influential life.
2 He was taken into Nebuchadnezzar’s royal court as a teenager.
Daniel was from a royal family (Daniel 1:3). He was a thoroughbred. So walking among world leaders was not altogether new to him. His childhood prepared him for what was coming. He often found himself in the king’s court, because he was open to the King over all kings and lived a life of obedient surrender!
3 He got all A’s at college in Babylon (3 years of study), unlike the local boys.
He and his friends were “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters…” (1:20). “Light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him..because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in Daniel” (5:11,12). So said the queen.
4 He was encouraged by godly friends.
They went into the fiery furnace, not Daniel. They sought God together with him for supernatural revelation. They hung together in a foreign land, empowering each other.
Friends have the power to tear us down or build us up. Daniel chose wisely as a teen the kind of food he would eat and the kind of friends he would associate with. Worked well.
5 He had a strong prayer life and often heard God’s voice through dreams and visions.
In his 80’s he is still praying three times a day, kneeling toward Jerusalem (Daniel 6:10). The threat of the lion’s den did not change his prayer discipline. He and his friends could not be bought out or threatened out of a walk of faith and discipline. And God revealed things to him he has never revealed to anyone else. He had a pipeline to heaven and had a reputation for dream interpretation even as a teen (Daniel 1:17). Ezekiel included him among the greatest people who ever lived (Ezekiel 14:14).
6 He influenced four world rulers,
Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar (Babylon) and Cyrus and Darius (Persia). This sometimes meant bringing bold correction. Very few people, if any, have had the kind of world influence that Daniel enjoyed with rulers of empires. Yet he maintained a humble and confident outlook. It started when he was in his teens and continued when he was an old man. His wisdom was legendary, both to prophets as well as kings under whom he served. A contemporary prophet, mocking a foreign king, writes in satire, “You are indeed wiser than Daniel” (Ezekiel 28:3), showing with tongue and cheek what another prophet thought of him.
7 He was thrown into the lion’s den as an old man.
He was in his 80’s. This happened under King Darius of Persia who loved him and was tricked by people who were jealous of Daniel. Deja vu! Then they got thrown into the den, and it didn’t go well for them. He was a threat to them because of the way he chose to live. They wanted influence and lost it. He wanted the vote of heaven–and got it!
8 Nothing negative is said in the Scriptures about Daniel.
Is that uncommon? Abraham messed up with Hagar, Noah got drunk, Job complained to God, David had an illicit affair with Bathsheba after killing a man. Famous and godly people with major sin. Not Daniel–or Joseph, two world leaders who started young and served long. Three other facts about Daniel: he was smart, he never married (maybe he was a eunuch) and he was good-looking (see Daniel 1:3,4). Call him Belteshazzar for “short”. That is what the chief eunuch, Ashpenaz, named him.
9 He walked in humility throughout his long life.
“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble,” and grace was poured down on Daniel from teen years on. His responses to proud emperors were always humble and yet confident. He urged Nebuchadnezzar to break off his sins and show mercy to the oppressed. He didn’t listen, walked in pride, and God took him out for seven years. He told Belshazzar from the handwriting that he was about to lose his kingdom and yet he was exalted–for a day (Daniel 5:29-31).
10 Daniel introduces us to two chief angels–Gabriel and Michael.
Wow! He lived in the world of the unseen. He walked in ways that few people have ever entered. Pagan kings could see his connection to the spiritual world. In the visions he sees, he is told three times by a messenger from heaven, “You are greatly loved.” Gabriel showed up and gave him understanding of the visions he was being given. And Michael is a part of the visions he sees, a fighter on behalf of God and his people. If you are open, God will give you eyes for unseen realities of the spiritual world! Daniel and John the Beloved, who wrote the book of Revelation, are probably having great conversations in heaven.