May Your Unfailing Love Be My Comfort

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DANIEL 1:1-2:23 | 1 PETER 3:8-4:6 | PSALM 119:65-80 | PROVERBS 28:14

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We’ve finally finished the book of Ezekiel, and have entered the fascinating book of Daniel. 

As a result of the devastation and complete destruction of the temple, Daniel was one of the young men taken back as a prisoner of war by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon.  Along with three other young men, Daniel is selected by the king to be groomed for a position of authority in the kingdom.  But Daniel is a strange young man — he asks to be excused from the fine meats and wines from the king’s table, and assures that a simple diet of vegetables is sufficient nourishment to prepare his mind and body for the king’s service. 

The king complies, and after a period of just ten days, this is what the record states: 

19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

In particular, Daniel does something that none of the king’s men is able to do.  He interprets the king’s dream that many before him have not been able to interpret correctly, and have subsequently lost their lives on account of it. 

But Daniel is full of quiet confidence in requesting some time to ponder over the details of the dream, and when he is ready, these are the words that Daniel utters:

 “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
   wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
   he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
   and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
   he knows what lies in darkness,
   and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
   You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
   you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

We shall soon learn what Daniel’s interpretation of the dream was, and what the outcome of that would be.

Turning now to our reading of the first book of Peter, we find Peter offering exhortations not uncommon to the kind that Jesus himself offered during his time on this earth.  Peter must have personally witnessed this many a time, and it is therefore not surprising to see him say this: 

8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 

10 For, “Whoever would love life
   and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
   and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
   they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
   and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

And as for being a well-informed believer, Peter says this regarding the essential ability to be prepared to defend one’s beliefs in this way: 

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Peter goes on to urge his readers to live their lives with intention, not randomness or willful sinfulness.  He says: 

3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Turning now to our reading of the Psalms, we find David beseeching the Lord’s mercies and guidance in the long acrostic poem titled Psalm 119.  David says:

65 Do good to your servant
   according to your word, LORD.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
   for I trust your commands.

And again, in these lines, we see David’s outstanding humility:

76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
   according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
   for your law is my delight.

Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, who identifies the consequence of one who might “harden their heart.”

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
   but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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