“As for [Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego], God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.”
Godly wisdom guards against the influences of a godless society.
From the beginning of human history Satan has tried to confuse and confound God’s purposes by corrupting man’s thinking. In the Garden of Eden he succeeded by calling God’s character into question and convincing Eve that her disobedience would have no consequences. To this day he continues to deceive entire civilizations by blinding “the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4).
Daniel and his friends were captives of a pagan king who wanted to dilute their allegiance to God by reprogramming their thinking. However, unlike Eve, they were determined not to be overcome by the evil influences around them. God honored their integrity and taught them everything they needed to know to be productive in Babylonian society and to influence it for righteousness.
Babylon was the center of learning in its day, boasting of advanced sciences, sophisticated libraries, and great scholars. God gave these young men the ability to learn and retain that level of knowledge, and the wisdom to apply it to their lives. Furthermore, He gave Daniel the ability to interpret dreams and receive visions—gifts that would prove crucial later in his life as God elevated him to a position of prominence in Babylon and revealed the plan of history to him (see chapters 7–12).
Surely Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego didn’t understand all that God had in store for them or why He would allow them to be tested so severely at such a young age. But when they chose to love and trust Him despite their circumstances, they demonstrated the kind of wisdom that protects God’s children from the influences of a godless society. As we do the same, God uses us in significant ways. Also, we find that God never calls us to a challenge that He won’t equip us to handle.
Suggestions for Prayer: King David prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). Make that your prayer as well.
For Further Study: Read Colossians 1:9–12. What are the results of being filled with “spiritual wisdom and understanding”?
1:17 Daniel is like Joseph (Gen. 40:8; 41:39) and prefigures the wisdom of Christ (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:3).
1:17 God gave to them God Himself blesses and advances the Hebrew youths in the foreign court. Their activities will display His power to the nations; through them He will be glorified (e.g., 2:47).
God’s favoring of the young men demonstrates His protection and blessing during the exile. Although the nation was removed from its land, Yahweh remained true to His covenant and protected His people. The advancement of the young men in the king’s court, particularly Daniel, gives voice to Jewish concerns during this time. As they succeed and move through the ranks, the young men evidence God’s sovereignty over the affairs of kings and kingdoms. Their ultimate success reflects back on God, to whom they give credit (see 2:27–28).
had insight into all visions and dreams Introduces a motif that will resurface throughout the book. The Hebrew words used here for visions and dreams designate divine revelation. A vision involves a divine experience that occurs while awake, as an interruption of normal consciousness, while a prophetic dream occurs while sleeping.
1:17 God gave them learning. God’s blessing is not limited to physical well-being, but also includes outstanding intellectual development during their three years of Babylonian education. He thus enables them to be a blessing to their pagan neighbors and to build up the city where they have found themselves (cf. Jer. 29:5–7) while remaining true to their beliefs.
visions and dreams. With a view to what follows in the book (chs. 2; 4; 5), Daniel is distinguished from his companions in his ability to interpret dreams and visions, much as Joseph was in the court of Pharaoh (Gen. 40:8; 41:16).
1:17 God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature: As Moses was educated in the knowledge of Egypt, so Daniel and his friends acquired a Chaldean education. The wisdom of the Chaldeans consisted of sciences current at the time, including the interpretation of omens communicated through astrology, the examination of livers, kidneys, and other animal entrails, and the examination of the organs and flight patterns of birds. Daniel had the additional advantage of understanding visions and dreams. In the ancient Near East dreams were considered a source of divine revelation, and thus their interpretation was highly valued. Daniel’s gift from God in this area put him far beyond the abilities of the Chaldean interpreters (4:5–9).
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1587). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Da 1:17). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1465). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1009). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.