The Mark of an Excellent Spirit
From the book that bears his name, Daniel came to be the man we all know for his visions and dreams foretelling the fall of powers, and the rise of the Kingdom. His fame tends to reside in his interpretations and his miraculous deliverance from destruction. But there is another theme that is woven throughout the book of Daniel: the testimony of his excellent spirit.
Reading in Daniel 5:12, the queen is accounting to Belshazzar for Daniel’s reputation, and the first thing she boasts of is Daniel’s spirit. After Darius takes control of the kingdom, in chapter 6, verse 3, Daniel is again preferred for his excellent spirit. Every time the hands of captivity changed, Daniel found himself sitting in the king’s inner circles. Over and over again, Daniel’s spirit proved him; he did not need the recommendation of man for position.
Daniel’s story begins in the king’s court as a mere pupil. At this point, he had only been chosen for his looks and his ability to hit the books. But he carried his purpose in his heart, and he let that be the guiding principle of his actions. Even after he had proven himself with the pulse and water, he was not known to the King. For Daniel, it was never about the fame or position; Daniel held integrity and relationship before he ever held acclaim. It was merely a byproduct of his spirit.
So where did this spirit come from? How did he acquire it? Was it just something he always had? The simple answer is no. We can find the real answer in the reason that Daniel was saved from the lion’s mouths (6:23), because of his belief in his God. A belief that was founded upon the relationship with his God. The same thing that had always worked for Daniel before was the same thing he always came back to. Chapter 10, verse 12 gives us insight into his process: to ‘set his heart to understanding and to chasten himself before God’.
Daniel made a priority out of humility. In every situation, he was quick to give the glory for his wisdom where it was due. When praying for the future of Israel, Daniel did not just cast blame on the nation, but repented of the same sins himself. He realized that he was never above the reality of their situation, that he was not faultless. He made a personal example out of 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face…” (KJV)
Daniel built an extremely intimate relationship with God. He didn’t settle for God to just be his heritage, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but He became his God. We can see the depth of the intimacy in his personal anger over the defiling of the Holy vessels; it drips from his words to Belshazzar. For Daniel, prayer was not an obligation. He was willing to die for his passion for prayer. He prayed with his friends, but he prayed when he was alone as well. He prayed when he was free to do so, but he also prayed when mortal men tried to restrict it. He prayed when he prospered, and he prayed in the face of destruction. He prayed when the sun was shining in the sky, and he prayed when it was replaced by the moon. He prayed for his situations, but he also prayed for his people.
From Daniel’s testimony, we can conclude the answer to our question, “How can I bear the mark of an excellent spirit?” Micah puts it this way:
“Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:6-8, KJV)
A proud North Dakotan, Maryssa enjoys good books, the outdoors, coffee, and furry four-legged company. She’s excited about what God is doing in her community, city, and state.