#MeditationMonday – Out of the abundance of a man’s heart, his mouth speaks.
Welcome, dearly beloved. I pray the mercies of God over you today. I hope to encourage and build you up in the Lord. As you grow in knowledge and understanding, may you be empowered to share your convictions with others.
This blog post is the final edition in a commentary on the book of Daniel with a focus on the theme of excellence.
Admittedly, chapters 7–12 are very prophetic in nature, but to avoid straying from the main theme (excellence), I’ve chosen to focus on Daniel’s reactions to receiving such visions, and how they affected his life and workflow at the time rather than any particular interpretation of the visions or what they symbolize – an approach several qualified scholars have already successfully attempted.
There are several studies on the interpretation/meaning of these visions by studying Bible Commentaries, I recommend starting with the most straightforward one – Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary.
May the precious Holy Spirit give understanding to us all.
Let’s dive in!
vs.1–14: Daniel had just seen a great vision of beasts and horns which represented various kingdoms, power and authority.
vs.15-28: reveal Daniel’s reaction to this fearful vision. He was overwhelmed, confused, grieved and troubled by what he saw. The vision affected both his mental and physical health. Yet, Daniel does not relent in his pursuit to understand the meaning of this vision (v.16, Chapter 10:8-9).
Lesson: Excellence never wavers in the face of terrifying news. Excellence is zealous in the pursuit of truth. A person with an excellent spirit always has an inquisitive yet honest desire to seek truth no matter the situation.
Humility is an appetite of excellence. Excellence is never too proud to admit/ask about what it does not know. Daniel did not presume himself too wise to approach the angels for further explanation.
We must always desire to understand whatever we hear from God through prayer and searching the scriptures. Just as scripture is divinely given and divinely interpreted. Dreams and visions which are divinely given must be divinely interpreted.
We must diligently persevere in prayer, communing with God to interpret the meaning of our dreams and visions, rather than applying human sense or wisdom to things of the spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11).
The heart (is and) must be the treasury and store-house of divine things; there we must hide God’s word, as the Virgin Mary kept the sayings of Christ (Luke 2:51) If we would have God’s word ready in our mouths, we must keep it in our hearts at all times.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Despite being terrified, Daniel kept what he witnessed in his heart. The lesson is straightforward. A person with an appetite for excellence must be in control of their tongue. Excellence knows when to speak, and when to be quiet (James 3).
Daniel didn’t go running to everyone in the palace or even his closest friends to tell them what he had just seen, instead, he knew to keep quiet, leaving the vision in his mind’s eye till he was given divine permission to speak of it.
vs.1-25: Daniel receives the Horned Goat-Ram vision and its interpretation.
v.26: Daniel is instructed to seal up this vision.
v.27: The things he had seen made him physically and mentally exhausted for some days, but after resting, he resumed the King’s business.
Daniel does not abandon the King’s business despite the terrifying visions he’d received. He abided with God (heavenly) yet discharged his (earthly) duties in the palace because responsibility is an appetite of excellence.
On this, Matthew Henry’s Commentary notes:
As long as we live in this world we must have something to do in it; and even those whom God has most dignified with his favours must not think themselves above their business; nor must the pleasure of communion with God take us off from the duties of our particular callings, but still we must in them abide with God. Those especially that are entrusted with public business must see to it that they conscientiously discharge their trust.
v.1: Daniel receives revelation from scripture, and so turns to God in prayer and fasting.
Research is an appetite of excellence. Excellence loves to study. It is through Daniel’s extensive study of the scriptures that he is able to come about this understanding, along with the wisdom to seek God concerning it.
vs.4-19: Daniel’s prayer for his nation. In his prayer, Daniel
- Exalts the Lord and praises His character
- Acknowledges his sin, the sin of his people and the role it has played in the breakdown of their nation
- Appeals to God’s mercy to restore his nation
All this reveals Daniel’s deep concern for his people and reminds us that the appetite of excellence is concern for something greater than itself. Like Daniel does in this prayer, excellence always points away from itself and unto something greater.
vs.1-20: Daniel receives a revelatory message and has another spiritual encounter.
v.7: Those who were with Daniel could not see this vision, yet they ran away trembling in terror.
Daniel’s excellent spirit has made Him a custodian of God’s mysteries. This is a sharp reminder of Psalm 25:14 – The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and He will show them his covenant. The Lord confides not in those who have little regard for His Kingdom, but reveals His ways to those who fear Him and Him alone.
vs.12-13: The battles of an excellent spirit often go beyond flesh and blood. Daniel faced great resistance in obtaining a response to his prayers but he remained persistent. As Christians, we must not be deterred by the world’s resistance to God’s kingdom. Resistance deters not an excellent spirit from pursuing its goal.
The last two chapters of Daniel contain one big prophecy about events leading up to what scripture refers to as the “time of the end”. These chapters paint a picture of
“a world full of wars and fightings, which come from men’s lusts, making it a theatre of sin and misery”
— Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
Beloved, it is in this double context of the fallen nature of man that we pursue excellence as new creations in Christ, straddling the divide between being foreigners in a world that’s not our home and the divine command to love our neighbours who live in it.
We aren’t called to pursue excellence the way this corrupt world does
i.e. in a dog eat dog fashion instead, we shadow God’s excellence, just He requires it of us, redefining it to mean what He’s called it – holy as He is holy, perfect as He is perfect.
vs. 4: Daniel is once again commanded to seal up the information he’s received for many will go here and there to increase knowledge.
How incredibly relevant this statement has proven today! We live in the information age where many through access to the internet have pierced themselves with various sufferings in search of enlightenment, wokeness and other forms of strange “knowledge”. II Timothy 3 remarks that such people are always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Their search often leads far from the narrow way and down dangerously crooked paths.
On the contrary, we must seal up the truth we have received like a seed in our hearts, so it may take root and bear fruit the world can’t choke or snatch away! (See Matthew 13: 21-22, Luke 8:4-15, Mark 4:1-20)
vs 8–9,13: I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” Once again, Daniel is quick to ask questions about things he didn’t understand because true wisdom is able to acknowledge its own ignorance. This time, the lesson is not in Daniel’s question but in the response he receives!
Sometimes we receive instruction or words in our communion with the Lord that prompts us to inquire further about what we have heard. However, like Daniel, the answer we receive may not be what we expect.
Till now, Daniel had been receiving explanations from the angels about anything He asked, but in this instance, he’s told this
“Go your way…because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end…..As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”
Daniel is told that he won’t be told the answer to his question, and he’s simply got to be okay with that. The lesson – excellence knows when to be content. Daniel is told not to covet more knowledge than he has been given at this time, and to return to doing the King’s business (8:27). I am sharply reminded of I Corinthians 13:9 – 12
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears……We see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Truth is the daughter of time. If we knew it all, there would be no need for faith. We know in part, for God alone is all-knowing. We must be content in paths He chooses to reveal whilst trusting Him to lead us through paths unknown.
This is the appetite of excellence.