“And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.”
People of integrity are people of significant spiritual influence.
When King Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel as one of his personal servants, it was just the beginning of a ministry that would last for seventy years. Daniel 2:48 records that soon afterward “the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.” At Daniel’s request, the king also appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego to positions of authority, thereby providing an even stronger voice for righteousness in Babylon.
Years later, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, “clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom” (Dan. 5:29). Following Belshazzar’s death and the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians, Darius the Mede appointed Daniel as one of only three men in the kingdom to have oversight over all his governors (Dan. 6:1–2). As the Lord continued to bless Daniel, and as he distinguished himself among Darius’ leaders, the king appointed him as prime minister over the entire kingdom. Daniel therefore “enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (Dan. 6:28).
Daniel’s life was one of enormous influence, which began when he was a youth who chose commitment over compromise. He was faithful with little, and the Lord gave him much. Perhaps few Christians will have the breadth of influence Daniel enjoyed, but every Christian should have his commitment. Remember, the choices you make for Christ today directly impact the influence you will have for Him tomorrow. So live each day to hear the Lord’s “Well done, good and faithful [servant]; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23).
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to guard your integrity, so that your influence for Him will be strong and ever–increasing.
For Further Study: Read the prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10. What did Jabez request of God? ✧ What was God’s response?
18–21 The conclusion of the first court story is a fortuitous one for Daniel and his three friends. After their three-year program of study in the “arts and sciences” of Babylonia, the Hebrews appear before King Nebuchadnezzar for an interview and subsequent appointment to posts of civil service (v. 18). All four pass their oral examination with “honors” and are deemed by the king to be superior to all the other wise men of the kingdom in “wisdom and understanding” (v. 20). The expression “ten times better” is a common idiom in the OT for expressing hyperbole in dialogue (e.g., Ge 31:41; Nu 14:22; Ne 4:12).
Induction into the civil-service corps of the king meant candidates had to be “qualified to serve in the king’s palace” (v. 4). Once the qualifications of the four Hebrews were certified, they “entered the king’s service” or received administrative appointments as civil servants (v. 19). The same word (lit., “stand,” ʿāmad) is used in both statements to express the idea of entering the king’s service. To “stand” before the king is an idiom for serving the king (cf. 1 Ki 10:8; 12:8) and connotes both loyalty to the crown and adherence to royal protocol and etiquette (cf. Miller, 61).
The purpose of the final section of the first court story is twofold. First, we learn that there is a difference between learning as an “acquired skill” and wisdom as a divine gift (v. 20; cf. v. 17). Daniel and his friends learned the secret lore of the Babylonian magicians and priests, but they clearly understood the God of Israel to be the source of all knowledge and wisdom (cf. 2:20). The rest of the court stories of Daniel give testimony to the four Hebrew captives’ reliance on God as the fountainhead of knowledge and wisdom, unlike their Babylonian counterparts, who relied on occultic arts and all the gods and demons associated with Babylonian religion (e.g., 2:20–23, 28; 4:18, 24; 5:12). Much like Joseph, who served Pharaoh in Egypt, Daniel and his friends recognized that it is God in heaven who reveals mysteries to his faithful servants (2:28; cf. Ge 40:8; 41:16).
Russell, 32, sums up the outcome of the king’s examination of the Hebrew apprentices by noting that “even in this highly skilled field [i.e., Babylonian ‘arts and sciences’] Daniel and his friends were so obviously better than them all! By the goodness of God they could beat the Babylonian experts at their own game. The secrets of Babylon were no secrets to Yahweh who made them known to whomsoever he willed.” The experience of Daniel and his friends anticipates the instruction of the apostle Paul about the “only wise God” (Ro 16:27) and his son Jesus the Messiah, who is the “wisdom from God” for the Christian (1 Co 1:30).
Second, the chronological notice in v. 21—attached as an addendum to the opening court story explaining how Daniel and his friends came to be royal officials in Babylonia under King Nebuchadnezzar—attests to the “staying power” of Daniel (cf. Wallace, 47–48). The first year of King Cyrus of Persia is dated to 539 or 538 BC, depending on the source consulted. This means Daniel held an administrative post in the royal court of Babylon for more than sixty years, and his time spent in Babylonian captivity was nearly seventy years (given his deportation in 605 BC; cf. 1:1). Earlier the prophet Jeremiah had predicted that the Hebrew captivity would cover seven decades (Jer 25:11–12; 29:10). The reference to the accession year of Cyrus to the throne of Babylon probably marked the end of this enforced exile of the Hebrews by the Babylonians (so Goldingay, 27; Lucas, 56).
In reality, Daniel’s longevity testified both to God’s sovereignty over the nations and his faithfulness to his people Israel. Even as Daniel outlasted the kings of the Babylonian Empire, so God’s people were sustained in captivity and eventually permitted to return to their homeland of covenantal promise (2 Ch 36:22–23; Ezr 1:1–4). Likewise, the presence of the Israelite named Daniel in the royal court of seven Babylonian monarchs and the first king of Persia was a tangible reminder that God is the one who sets up kings and deposes them (Da 2:21).
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Hill, A. E. (2008). Daniel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, pp. 55–56). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.