The stories today again fall neatly across chapter lines, and in the first is a royal decree from King Nebuchadnezzar, to whom it seemed good to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. Though there is narrative embedded in this account, it is uniquely a first-person acknowledgement of what the king has experienced. Notice the simple theme, and the king’s acknowledgement that the Most High “does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.”
Chapter 5 is a pivotal moment not only in the lives of Daniel and the exiles but in world history. As Jeremiah illuminated the story of Jerusalem’s fall from inside the walls, this account illuminates the last night of the Babylonian kingdom, when it fell to the Persians in 539 B.C. The historical details are well-known; but pay attention to the details that the author cares about: what King Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, was doing at the end.
Finally, under king Darius, Daniel faces the same type of test that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had confronted with the golden image. Notice what the author emphasizes about Daniel’s opponents: is their complaint about religion, or are there baser concerns?
The stories in the first half of Daniel are popular. You may have heard of the fiery furnace and the lion's den individually and without context. Read them now with Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Kings in the back of your mind. Also, each of these stories follows the same basic formula; by now you know how the stories are going to end. Assume the author isn’t foolish. What understandings can they bring beyond their obvious rhythms?
One angle is that Daniel gives a sense of life for the Jews in exile. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were a few out of the thousands who were commanded to "seek the welfare of the city where [the LORD] has sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf..." If this is what the nobles had to deal with, what kind of snares were there for the common people, who did not have status in the palace?
Our verse for this week is 2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Daniel 4 through 6. Now let’s read it!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.