1:3-5 (selected) Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah's royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. "Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men," he said. "Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon." ...They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service. One might ask, "Why would the king go to Judah and get captives to serve in his royal service? Wasn't this risky? Why not just use his own young men?" I have a theory that the young men of Judah (and Israel) were far above young men of other cultures and nations in every aspect. Partly because God had revealed so much divine wisdom to Israel, plus they had His blessings. If you remember, even in Moses' day, the Israelite women were stronger than their Egyptian counterparts and were having babies so fast that they couldn't kill them fast enough. We see evidence of this in later text.
1:9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. We see that whenever someone is given favor or disfavor, God is behind both for His purposes!
1:17 God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams. Here is our first evidence of God-given abilities that made them a "Divine choice" for the job. This is comforting in our own callings, knowing that God will enable us to do His work well.
1:19-20 The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom. Big surprise! It's all God. Man cannot take credit for this special ability when put in a special position.
2:1 One night during the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn't sleep. The timing of this doesn't make sense to me since Daniel came into his service three years after Nebs conquered Judah. The verse just before mentions Daniel serving until the first year of the reign of King Cyrus. I looked up the two kings and their kingdoms, just so I could piece together the dynamics. Apparently, King Neb was the king of the huge Babylonian Empire, and later he was conquered by Cyrus who set up the next Persian Empire. This is all part of Neb's dream that Daniel interpreted with the different empires. Below is an interesting Wiki perspective on King Cyrus (remember-Cyrus was a Christ type from many of our earlier studies).
Wiki : It was under his own rule that the empire embraced all previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly, and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia, from Egypt and the Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, to create the largest empire the world had yet seen.
The reign of Cyrus lasted 29 to 30 years. Cyrus built his empire by fighting and conquering first the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire and the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Either before or after Babylon, he led an expedition into central Asia, which resulted in major campaigns that brought "into subjection every nation without exception." Cyrus did not venture into Egypt, as he himself died in battle, fighting the Massagetae along the Syr Darya in December 530 BC. He was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II, who managed to add to the empire by conquering Egypt, Nubia, and Cyrenaica during his short rule.
2:5 But the king said to the astrologers, "I am serious about this. If you don't tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble! Can you imagine the insanity of this request? It was definitely put on his heart by God. It was another Divine set up! Only God could truly do this, as we see verbalized in verse 11:
2:11 "The king's demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people."
He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up
other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.
He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in
darkness, though he is surrounded by light. Good reminder in light of today's current events!
3:14 AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION... This is a great reminder as we share the truth of God's plan and character with those who vehemently oppose us, especially the "wise and learned."
3:18-20 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah... Since this uses the word "spirits now in prison," I have a feeling this is not talking about mortals. Remember that in the days of Noah, there is a good case that the people living on earth were hybrids of mortals and immortals (sons of God or angels, having sex with the daughters of men, and producing giants). Plus, mortals are just dead/asleep when they die. Spirits, being immortal, are being kept in their proper domain, according to either Jude or 2 Peter (I forget which). So it appears, putting this together with verse 22, that this "proclamation" ended in putting the demons and fallen angels under His authority and subjection all the way back at His resurrection.
3:22 ...Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him. Obviously, even though they are in subjection, they are still being used to accomplish His purposes for the ages, right on schedule.
28:14 Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. Serious.