Daniel: A Bipartisan Servant

Be Like Daniel

Two days before the first presidential debate of the 2024 campaign between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, I am praying that I will be a Christian in the mold of the prophet Daniel. I want to be like Daniel in three ways–which will be an improvement of how I’ve been in past political seasons.

Uncompromising Loyalty to God’s Instructions…But Otherwise, Silence and Loyalty to the Pagan Rulers Daniel Served

We know of two occasions when Daniel directly opposed the directive of the land’s ruler. First, when a command came to eat certain foods that God had warned humanity not to eat (Daniel 1:1-21). Daniel’s response to this was a personal decision in his heart

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.

Daniel 1:8 — The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016)

The second came when Daniel learned of a law forbidding him to pray to God (Daniel 6:1-28)

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Daniel 6:10, The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016).

The king promoted Daniel in the former and threw Daniel in a den of lions in the latter. However, the consequence did not change his convictions and never resulted in a personal compromise.

Other than these two stories, we have no record of Daniel openly defying the ruler of his land. Daniel surely disagreed on more than just these two issues. Yet, we have no record of Daniel speaking out against the king’s policies. I believe we lack a record of policy opposition because Daniel never shared his disagreements publicly. Daniel only publicly opposed the ruler of the land when the instruction called for compromise against God’s instructions, as revealed in the scriptures.

This does not mean that Daniel was unwilling to speak the truth to power. There are also two stories in which Daniel had to share hard news—unpopular news—with the king. These two stories are found in Daniel 4:4-33 and Daniel 5:13-30.

On both of these occasions, the record of what Daniel spoke were words and insight that came directly from God.

I pray I will be silent in all political matters unless the leaders of my land call me (us) to act against a clear, “thus saith the Lord.” And that when I speak, I only speak according to what God directs me to speak–and on this latter point, I pray I am very, very, very circumspect!

Never Make it Personal, Always Show Grace

Twice in the story of Daniel, his life was at risk because of the ego of the king he served under.

The first came when the king’s top wisemen couldn’t interpret a dream he had, and so King Nebuchadnezzar decided to take out his anger on all the wisemen, not just those in the room.

Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed.

Daniel 2:12, The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016).

The second life-threatening moment for Daniel came from the story I referenced above, when a different king, King Darius, allowed himself to be flattered by some of his leaders and sign into existence a foolish law that would condemn Daniel, the king’s friend and loyal servant, to death.

Two foolish laws. Both laws prescribed came from the pride of men with power.

But Daniel never attacked them or made it personal or asked God to punish them. Daniel always exhibited grace and humility in his words and actions.

In the first story Daniel responded thus…

The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.

 Daniel 2:26–28. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016).

Then, just a short time after this moment, Daniel had the opportunity to deliver bad news to the king. The king who threatened his life. The king about to be punished by God. This is how Daniel spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar–

Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!

 Daniel 4:19. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016).

Daniel’s heart hurt over the suffering of this king.

In the second story, Daniel’s prayers resulted in a trip to the lion’s den. Daniel was delivered to the lions to die. But Daniel didn’t die, God protected Daniel. What did Daniel say to this king whose desire to satisfy his ego risked the life of his friend and counselor?

Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

 Daniel 6:21–22. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016).

I pray I have the grace and humility to never make my comments about any leader in this land personal.

Serve All Leaders

Finally, I want to be like Daniel—a bipartisan servant. Daniel served five kings in his life: Jehoiakim (Israel), Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon), Belshazzar (Babylon), Darius (Medo-Persia), and Cyrus (Medo-Persia).

Daniel’s loyalty was to God, enabling him to serve anyone God gave him the opportunity to serve.

I pray I will help every leader be as successful as they can be. For me, as I am no Daniel or Billy Graham, this will likely never be in a direct role. But I can serve every leader by praying for them and their success regardless of my political agreements or disagreements with him or her.

This is how I am praying for myself this political season. To be a Christian in the mold of Daniel. Do you want to join me in that prayer for yourself?

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