Ezekiel 41

** Daniel was of noble birth, if not one of the royal family of

Judah. He was carried captive to Babylon in the fourth year of

Jehoiachin, B. C. 606, when a youth. He was there taught the

learning of the Chaldeans, and held high offices, both under the

Babylonian and Persian empires. He was persecuted for his

religion, but was miraculously delivered; and lived to a great

age, as he must have been about ninety-four years old at the

time of the last of his visions. The book of Daniel is partly

historical, relating various circumstances which befel himself

and the Jews, at Babylon; but is chiefly prophetical, detailing

visions and prophecies which foretell numerous important events

relative to the four great empires of the world, the coming and

death of the Messiah, the restoration of the Jews, and the

conversion of the Gentiles. Though there are considerable

difficulties in explaining the prophetical meaning of some

passages in this book, we always find encouragement to faith and

hope, examples worthy of imitation, and something to direct our

thoughts to Christ Jesus upon the cross and on his glorious

throne.

* The captivity of Daniel and his companions. (1-7) Their

refusal to eat the king's meat. (8-16) Their improvement in

wisdom. (17-21)

1-7 Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the first year of his

reign, took Jerusalem, and carried whom and what he pleased

away. From this first captivity, most think the seventy years

are to be dated. It is the interest of princes to employ wise

men; and it is their wisdom to find out and train up such.

Nebuchadnezzar ordered that these chosen youths should be

taught. All their Hebrew names had something of God in them; but

to make them forget the God of their fathers, the Guide of their

youth, the heathen gave them names that savoured of idolatry. It

is painful to reflect how often public education tends to

corrupt the principles and morals.
8-16 The interest we think we make for ourselves, we must

acknowledge to be God's gift. Daniel was still firm to his

religion. Whatever they called him, he still held fast the

spirit of an Israelite. These youths scrupled concerning the

meat, lest it should be sinful. When God's people are in Babylon

they need take special care that they partake not of her sins.

It is much to the praise of young people, not to covet or seek

the delights of sense. Those who would excel in wisdom and

piety, must learn betimes to keep the body under. Daniel avoided

defiling himself with sin; and we should more fear that than any

outward trouble. It is easier to keep temptation at a distance,

than to resist it when near. And we cannot better improve our

interest in any with whom we have found favour, than to use it

to keep us from sin. People will not believe the benefit of

avoiding excess, and of a spare diet, nor how much they

contribute to the health of the body, unless they try.

Conscientious temperance will always do more, even for the

comfort of this life, than sinful indulgence.
17-21 Daniel and his fellows kept to their religion; and God

rewarded them with eminence in learning. Pious young persons

should endeavour to do better than their fellows in useful

things; not for the praise of man, but for the honour of the

gospel, and that they may be qualified for usefulness. And it is

well for a country, and for the honour of a prince, when he is

able to judge who are best fitted to serve him, and prefers them

on that account. Let young men steadily attend to this chapter;

and let all remember that God will honour those who honour him,

but those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed.
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