Bible Book of Daniel Commentary | Free Bible Commentary | Agape Flashcards
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble…”
The Free Bible eBook Series is a simple and definitely fallible (and possibly wrong at times) interpretation of the different books of the Bible. When deciding to share this series it was because of one vision and idea, that average Christians (denomination irrelevant) can share their thoughts about the Bible and like Ecclesiastes states, “they can help each other succeed.” The content of these eBooks should not be taken at face value but compared with your own understanding of the scriptures discussed.
One of the great common day ironies of Christianity is that although our faith may be the most important thing of our lives, it is also the thing we are most hesitant to share. It makes me sad when my few Christian friends and I spend time together with no mention of Christ. It makes me cringe to think that strangers who are Christians will talk about everything under the sun but will hesitate to share the joys of their faith.
This series is crafted with untrained hands but with a hearth full of Christ’s love. It may be informative, it may be revealing, and with God’s Grace, it may be enlightening. The goal though is for it to be a conversation piece, a common ground Christians can relate to and share, and a way to ensure no one falls alone.
Daniel is such a fascinating book. I think if there was one man in the bible that I would want to be best friends with, it would be Daniel. He is such a shining example to us and how to live a life of faith. When you really think about this, it’s actually pretty intriguing and almost doesn’t make sense that a man from the Old Testament could be such a good example for us gentiles in the distant future. I mean the children of God live in drastically different ways between the Old and New Testament. Rather than relying on the law, we now rely on the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the difference seems like a matter of violence, as the Old Testament is full of stories of the people of God at bloody war with those who don’t believe in their God. In the New Testament we are called to love all and to bring peace to the world.
Daniel lives like a man of the New Testament. He is patient, kind, his spiritual life is not hidden by any means, but is definitely personal. You don’t find Daniel walking the streets condemning sinners and casting judgement. In fact he hardly brings up his faith unless someone asks directly. But then he shares his faith so sincerely and with such love, he rocks the world.
You can find nearly everything in Daniel. Rock steady faith, love, miracles, doubt, fear, treachery, loyalty, effective witnessing, and mind-bending prophecy. You can spend a long, long time studying the book of Daniel and still learn new things.
I hope from reading this guide, you will learn a few new things from Daniel. I pray that God opens your heart (and your mind considering all the prophecy you are about to read!) and every day, make you more like Daniel.
“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.”
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, (the last three may be better known as Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego) were certainly up against a lot while captive in Babylon, especially when chosen to be tested of their worthiness to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. But in spite of the challenges, in spite of being in a land opposed to their God and unfamiliar with their ways, the four were steadfast in their beliefs. In fact, they were so rock-steady, they even made their beliefs seem practical and worthy to Babylonians, even those serving closely to King N! But how?
The incident where the four are tested in their commitment to eating according to their beliefs is such a fantastic example of how Christians should witness. It seems now days there are so many proponents of radical witnessing, going out and criticizing, scaring, or charming people into accepting God. But all these techniques or whatever you want to call them, aren’t lasting. You have to make it real to a person. And that is exactly what the four did.
Think of the situation. The attendant taking care of the four probably thought it absolutely ridiculous that someone would be opposed to eating of the king’s fine foods, the meats and the wines. I mean what kind of crazy person only eats vegetables and drinks only water? What does that do? The cool thing is, Daniel and the four were understanding. They understood that to others, the things God calls us to do sometimes breaks all rules of logic, that His love and support for us is so incomprehensible that it can only be understood through a loving, personal relationship. They didn’t berate him. They didn’t try scaring him into believing them. They made the illogical and confusing, logical and simple for him. “Ok, so I know it’s hard for you to believe that if you only feed us this and not what the king is giving us, that we won’t become weak and you won’t get into trouble. So look, just try it for a little bit and see yourself. We know it’s hard for you to go all in with this, so just let us show you how great it really is.” Now how much more effective is that than it is to go yell at the guy, condemning him “if you don’t just eat vegetables you’re going to die and burn in a most horrible eternal fire!!” I mean come on, first off he probably couldn’t even imagine what an eternal fire would be like, and he probably just thinks you’re a jerk. But Daniel and the other three handled the situation with love and care, and gently showed the attendant what God was capable of. Not just with words, but with their actions. That’s another key ingredient to witnessing, actions consistent with the words.
Is your life a witness to others? When you see others struggling, hoping and looking for something in this life to hold onto, do you make the illogical logical and simple for them? Do you pound them with the truth that we know so well but is foreign to them, or do you lead them to it gently, comforting them with your own actions and leading them to the cool waters of the truth like a shepherd?
“For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that
You know, I nearly forgot how much of an influence Daniel has on my spiritual life, even from an early age. I always admired Daniel’s wisdom and his dependence on God. Because of his influence, one of my constant, almost daily prayers has been “Give me wisdom Father, wisdom for Your Glory.” It’s such an encouragement seeing someone like Daniel praying nearly the same. I mean, it’s really quite funny if you think about all of the other places people look for wisdom, and the reasons they want that wisdom. I mean we will look for wisdom solely from books, or from nature, or from gossip, or from purposely experiencing the good and bad life has to offer, tasting just a tad bit of evil. God created every single thing you could be looking for wisdom from, so why don’t we just go to the original source! I mean chances are if you find wisdom from one of the many things you’re searching through, God already had that wisdom waiting to be bestowed on you. It’s kind of random, but I imagine this tendency with a great image in my head of people looking under rocks for a magical thing called wisdom and God just standing to the side, juggling blocks of wisdom, occasionally throwing one at us while yelling “look over here dummy!”
The fact is, God is complete wisdom in every way. Through our personal relationship with him and his steadfast and gentle guidance through his beautiful Word, He grants us all the wisdom we could ever need in this life. Wisdom with how to handle your subordinates, how to handle your superiors, how to be bold, how to be a man, how to be a lover, how to be a fighter, EVERYTHING. It’s all there just waiting for us to soak up and show off to God.
Daniel in this chapter reminds me a lot of some of the contemporary missionaries and bold men of God that I have read about lately. Daniel is like Brother Yun in that neither he nor Daniel had any crazy formal education in the word or how to preach or how to be a witness. God just gave them the wisdom and they used it for His glory. Just like Brother Andrew. He didn’t have to go to some school to learn how to completely depend on God, how to make God blind the border guards, or magically smuggle bibles for him. He just knew through his relationship with God. All three of these men’s lives are a mockery of Nebuchadnezzar’s magicians, enchanters, and astrologers. I mean it’s their job, their very life to be all knowing and mystical and they got schooled by Daniel haha.
“Just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.”
What if your friend was iron man? A friend forged from fire and earth, unbreakable and unshakeable. What if your iron man friend was a Christian and beat you into a pulp anytime you sinned. What if his computer aided brain held all the answers for your walk in life and he willingly advised you? Heck, I’ll tell you. If you had that friend you’d need no one else!
Unfortunately we don’t all have an awesome robot man to keep us in check, but that doesn’t mean we’re at a loss. As a matter of fact, we can have all the advantages of an iron man without the need to worry about being clobbered on the head by a crushing iron man hand. Just look at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Individually, who knows if they would have been able to stand against the pressure King N and the whole kingdom was putting on them to worship the gold statue. But together, we all know that they were veritably unshakable. Without any sign of worry, remorse, or doubt they simply accepted that by sticking by God, King N would stick them in the fire. But who cares? When you have Christian friends by your side holding you to God’s perfect standard, Christian friends afraid to let you down, it’s like three iron rings interconnected like a Venn Diagram, the top ring representing God. You can’t come apart unless you cut away from God, and even then the other ring holds you in place. To remove one, you have to remove all. And when God is the one holding you together, that ain’t soon happening.
What kind of friends do you have? Are you guys like an Iron Triangle? Do you sharpen iron with iron? Are you constantly being challenged and pushed towards a better walk with God by your friends? What about the love in your life? Is your relationship with God constantly being sharpened directly because of their interaction with you? If you’re uncertain, ask yourself this. Would they stand by you in the furnace?
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
- Daniel 4:37
I find this chapter’s story about what happened to King N incredibly fascinating. I mean, what drama. What ludicrous happenings. I mean, the greatest king reduced to a wandering pathetic half man mangy and lost like a wild animal. I mean the imagination of it all makes for a great entertaining story, but where’s the lesson? I’m pretty sure that none of us are ever going to be cast out from human society and forced to forage and wander and sleep in our own filth like creatures of the mud. But you know what, that’s not really the point is it? I mean sometimes exaggeration is the best way to drive your point home. We may not fall to such depths, but if we evaluate our own falls, we may find the potential outcome of them can and probably should be the same as King N’s, a little nudge over the ledge of pride into the waters of humility below.
I feel pride can be one of the most treacherous of Satan’s tricks against us, the most damaging. Anytime we get comfortable enough to say, “look what I’ve done. Look what I’ve accomplished. Look how I promote the progress of the kingdom of God. Look at my greatness,” we are effectively placing ourselves above God. In all circumstances we need to be humble and generous in our acknowledgment of God as the reason for everything in our lives. That is how we truly glorify His name. That is how His Kingdom is truly promoted and brought to bear fruit.
I guess that doesn’t necessarily explain why pride is so treacherous does it. It simply states that God needs to replace your identity. So let’s discover why it’s dangerous. Let’s look at King N for our example. I think one thing we can say is that pride is blinding. The catchphrase is so common, and I think the truth behind it is realistic. Pride blinds us to others efforts, including God’s, by making us the center of our own attention. That alone seems like it could be dangerous. I mean what a narrow scope you’re working with if you can’t see past yourself, your relatively microscopic insignificant self. A second way pride is dangerous is that it prevents us from progressing. Only when we are humble, acknowledging with word and deed that we are not so great and that we have things to work on, will we truly grow in God’s Will. Pride bears the fruits of stagnation, a state that ruins our relationship with God. A third way pride is dangerous is that it prevents us from serving others, from being a servant leader. When God calls us to His work, we tell ourselves, “ahhh, but what I’m working on now is really important, I don’t have time to do that!” We miss the opportunities God gives us to place others before ourselves.
Fortunately, just as he was for King N, God is gracious to us. He takes our pride, humbles us, then pours his love on us.
“That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.”
- Daniel 5: 30
There is no tomorrow with God, only now. King Belshazaar (King N’s son) learned this the hardest way imaginable. One evening, while having the time of his life, he decides it a good idea to bring out the Gold and Silver goblets from the temple of Jerusalem to use for his guests to drink wine. Since he was having such a good time, he then decided to praise the gods of gold and silver, or bronze, iron, wood and stone. God wasn’t so thrilled with this wildly good time though, and that very night, ended King B’s life!
This is such a great lesson, though perhaps a bit harsh. The lesson to take away here isn’t that if you mess up really badly, God isn’t necessarily (I would almost say definitely won’t) going to end your life. Rather, this shows us how important it is to dedicate ourselves to devoting ourselves to him daily. Every day we need his love. Every day we need him to teach us, mentor us, and grow us. Just because you have never felt closer to God today doesn’t mean that tomorrow you may have the worst backsliding of your life.
There is another interesting dynamic here that I feel worthwhile to investigate. You see, King B is repeating the sins of his father, King N. I mean King N was made insane and to live like an animal for a time because of his pride! Surely the whole kingdom knew this story, and you would think none knew it better than his own son! But somehow King B didn’t learn this lesson along the way, and just like his father, fell to his pride. The interesting dynamic here is whose fault is this? Is King B to blame, or King N?? Really, I think both are responsible, but King N’s responsibility is a little trickier to understand. I mean this guy had an unbelievable fall and return to power, all because of his pride. But in the end was he too prideful to teach his son the lessons of his own failings? Is King B’s failure and death the result of King N’s returning sin of pride? You would think if King N was truly humbled, he would share his story and warning against pride constantly, especially with his son. I think the overall lesson here is directed for fathers, or more generally, parents. Humble yourselves and protect your children from repeating your own mistakes. Don’t be afraid to share your shortcomings. You may prevent tragedy befalling your children.
One other thing we see in this chapter is Daniel’s humility, a stark contrast to the two kings he served. Daniel serves God expecting and wanting no reward. We should do the same in all our actions. This dynamic is explained and illustrated really well in Matthew 6:1-4 and 16. Check it out!
“Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”
It is funny studying some of the great leaders of the bible and realizing that the key to their success is almost childishly simple. With Daniel we see a man who doesn’t flaunt his abilities, who doesn’t go out of his way for any sort of credit, and really doesn’t even offer up his services or abilities unprovoked. Yet his life, even more specifically his faith, changed kingdoms. Sometimes as Christians we get into the mindset that we have to go out and change the world, to reach every lost soul. In trying to accomplish these impossible things, sometimes we lose sight of what’s most important, our simple, love filled relationship with God.
Daniel’s strength comes from something very simple, his routine and consistency. No matter what, every single day, Daniel drops to his knees and prays and gives thanks to God three times a day. Even when it is made illegal, Daniel still sticks to this very simple routine. He puts all of his efforts into it. He puts everything on the line for it! It is simply that important though. I’ve found myself get distracted from these simple yet infinitely important aspects of my spiritual life. I’ll begin to focus on helping with my church, starting bible study groups, or even writing bible studies (like the one you’re reading now!), and I stop doing the basic things that show God my love. It has been so long since I regularly prayed three times a day I can’t even remember when I stopped. So, I encourage you at this very moment, to join me telling God, “I’m coming back to the basics Father! Help me to set aside the time and to ignore distractions so that I may do as Daniel does!”
Another thing this chapter shows us is Daniel’s witnessing style. As I said before, Daniel changed entire kingdoms with his witnessing for God. But you seldom see Daniel go out of his way to do anything. It dawned on me that Daniel’s witnessing style is not words or speeches, it is actions. Just like his praying three times a day, no matter what, Daniel will act on his convictions for God. He simply lived his life for God, stuck to his convictions and his routine, and God did the rest. He didn’t go around tooting his own horn, nor did he go around persecuting and accusing others. His confident, God centric actions were the most powerful witnessing style there could be to relate to the likes of King N, Belshazaar, Darius, and the rest of the kingdom.
“Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’
- Daniel 7:27
This chapter is obviously rich with interesting and amazing insights and implications, but as I was thinking about what to write, I felt like all those things weren’t really personal enough to take away anything significant. Plus, there is no way I can describe and interpret these things as well as scholars who have spent years studying Daniel. So instead I will refer to the below image, which I think does the best job describing things. Note that this image depicts the entire book of Daniel. In the next chapter, I will reference another picture that scales it down to just Daniel 7 & 8.
As to the personal, actionable meaning of this chapter, when I struggled, of course God helped me out and guided me in His perfect knowledge and wisdom and showed me a verse from a completely different and random book in the bible that relates well.
1 Corinthians 14:1 says “but you should also desire the special abilities the spirit gives” particularly in this case it’s talking about prophecy and speaking in tongues. This chapter shows exactly that, Daniel’s gift from God in terms of prophecy and interpreting dreams. I realized instantly that that’s one direction that God wants me to take our relationship in growth. To pray and focus on those gifts from God, to draw nearer to Him and allow Him to give those gifts to me. Daniel again, is a great example of what it’s like to allow God to work unquestionably.
So when you start praying three times a day like we discussed in Chapter 6, add in a little prayer there for God to give you a taste of his gifts!
Designed and Drawn by Clarence Larkin, Fox Chase, Phila, PA, 3/13/1916
“I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.”
After reading this chapter, I must admit I feel a bit like Daniel in the above verse. Daniel 7 & 8 are some intense chapters of prophecy. Fortunately we have the convenience of Googling these chapters and finding graphics that explain them very well, but even so, it is still mind boggling. I can’t even imagine trying to understand these without references to look into. Basically, Chapter 7 & 8 are describing the different Empires that will rise and fall between Daniel’s time and Christ’s arrival. The different beasts that Daniel describes represent, in chronological order, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
Looking back at this from our time may not seem so significant. We are all familiar with the rises and falls of empires. We intensely familiar with Greece and Rome, and the heroes of both Empires. But for Daniel’s time, such vast Empires were unfathomable, not to mention the culture and technology each brought. This was a significant look into the future for him, one that he admits to not understanding. In hindsight, we can basically pinpoint the specifics of the entire prophecy which is pretty cool.
We may even miss the point of this prophecy though. You see, God wasn’t telling Daniel this just because he would think it was cool. He told Daniel this to tell us that he very specifically raises Empires and leaders to fulfill his will and plan. Each of these great kingdoms fulfilled a purpose and brought about some event for Israel and God’s people that otherwise would not have been possible. God used the Assyrians to punish Israel, but also show them his Grace. He used the cultural sprawl following Alexander the Greats conquests to prepare the world for the spread of universal ideas and truths. He used the relative peace establish by Rome to allow the spread of the Gospel. Sometimes we tend to think the world happens along its way as it will, people come to power and fall. But never forget, it is all meticulously planned and to a purpose. God has control.
Image from countdown.org
“ Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
Again Daniel is granted some insight into the future by Gabriel, and again I’m jealous. But the thing that I feel is most important to take away from this chapter is not the awesome visions and personal interference of God, but rather Daniels example to us of interceding for things greater than ourselves and things in our immediate lives. Daniel intercedes and cries to God for his nation, for his people, for all their sins and for their redemption. Should we not do the same? I mean I have heard it so many times even in my own short life. America is not what it was. Where’s our morality? Our morals come from t.v. Parents don’t raise their kids. Christians are hypocrites. Muslims are more dedicated. Just endless and endless complaints and claims about the spiritual and moral state of America (a point of clarification, these are complaints I hear, not mine). Is that not something to be passionate about? Is the state of our nation not something we should lay face down crying to God for?
A long time ago when I read Daniel, I remember that I got into the habit of praying three times a day, and I dedicated one of those prayers to praying for our nation, for my community, and things larger than myself in general. At some point along the way, I fell out of this habit, but I think it is one that is definitely worth picking back up. I do remember getting frustrated sometimes though thinking, “Is all of this praying really doing anything?” Even now, I couldn’t give you a straight answer. But I can tell you that regardless, it brought me closer to God, which is all I can ever ask for!
“Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”
How real is spiritual warfare? It’s something that you’ll hear occasionally as a Christian, and you know that it has to do with prayer and you know that there are spiritual forces out there. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re real to you though. And honestly, they’re not very real to me either. I mean my daily walk, my prayers, my mind, they’re all focused on my earthly struggles; living God’s will, protection for my family, the grace to be a light to the lost. Seldom do I consider God’s spiritual workings, his struggles against satan. Daniel 10 will definitely make you rethink your thoughts, beliefs, and impartiality to the spiritual world. As Daniel is standing on the banks of the Tigris, a heavenly messenger presents himself to Daniel and he reveals that,
“for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom
of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the
archangels, came to help me.” – Daniel 10:13
How amazing are the implications of those two sentences. I mean leading up to this we know that for 3 weeks, 3 WEEKS, Daniel has been fasting because of the dream he had. And all that time, little did he know it, the messenger of God was battling his way to bring Daniel His message. It makes you wonder doesn’t it? I mean how often does this happen? How often does God have a message for us that is intercepted by the enemy for one reason or another? Maybe we were called to fast because God knew there was going to be a battle. Maybe we were simply called to lift that shield of faith to fend the enemy off while the message comes. Maybe some of the things that are going on in the world really do need the Christian community as a whole to unite together in prayer and fasting in order to conquer the evil that goes on. It really makes you think. We really are in a war. When God called us to be disciples, he was calling us to be warriors for His kingdom, taking ground and conquering and adding to His Heavenly realm. Do you have a fight in you?
“But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.”
In these two chapters, it’s almost as if God decides to confide his entire gargantuan plan for mankind in itty bitty Daniel, just a little cherry on top of a well lived life. The angel confides in Daniel the epic rise and waning of Kingdoms and armies, lords and warriors, time comes and goes, and in the end its all as God deemed. And Daniel knows it all. And you know what, out of all the prophecy, all the foretelling in these two chapters, one thing stuck out to me as the most profound, as the key lesson to be taken away for our everyday lives in Christ. It comes in Daniel 12:10, and goes like this
“Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these
trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness,
and none of them will understand.”
I don’t know what it is, but to me the tone of this short passage is one of calm, of reassurance and pretty much non-chalant facts. These terrible things will come and pass. But in the end Daniel, it’s nothing to be stressed about. You can do your best and they’re still not going to understand. The wicked will just go on in their wickedness. It’s interesting for me at this particular point in my spiritual walk too, because it seems to kind of take the focus off of everything and back on God, who has it all under control. You see for me, I feel Gods been showing me that maybe I’m too caught up in trying to witness sometimes, of being a good example, of doing something for God, when really, it needs to simply be on Him, and the rest will come and pass just like the wicked.
However, that is simply where I am in my spiritual life. Of course, we are all commissioned to go and make disciples of all the people of all the nations, and I would like to augment the above verse with Daniel 12:3,
“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky,
and those who lead many to righteousness will shine
like the stars forever.”
So yea, obviously we want to be fighting for God’s kingdom, because in the end, that’s what will be left, and only that. But just remember, before you go running headlong into a spiritual battle for the kingdom of God swinging your sword wildly, take some time to get to know the Lord you lift your sword for. Submit unto his tutelage, learn to be content in simply serving him, whether it’s sweeping the steps before his throne or racing off to battle saving the souls of the lost. Love Him for Him, not for the souls you try to win or the blessings He gives. Then, and only then will you truly “shine like the stars forever.”
Thank you for reading The Free Bible eBook Series. If you enjoyed this guide, check out the rest of them at www.freebibleebooks.com, share them with a friend, discuss them, and bring life back to Christian conversation. If you disagree with parts of this guide or have questions, let me know! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you. In the end, remember one thing: God loves us unconditionally, pay it forward!
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As a disclaimer, please remember I am not a professional or credentialed spiritually in anyway. The Free Bible eBook Series is simply my interpretation of what I believe God has taught me through His precious Word. I am a firm believer that God teaches us and reveals to us differently and tailors to us personally. What I understand and believe may not align perfectly with you, which is ok. If any content in this series is seriously concerning, please let me know. I heed Paul’s warnings and don’t want to slip into blasphemy.