Daniel vi. 1-10
No Damage to the King.
Delivered at the Half-Yearly Believer's Meeting in Dublin.
DANIEL had been brought captive by king Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, and we shall see how he behaved himself in this strange land.
In the first place, he at once assumed the Nazarite character, and refused to defile himself with the king's food or drink. As the servant of God, he took his stand in the midst of his enemies, and he made his power felt all through that mighty empire. He was placed by king Darius in a position, second only to himself, of power and authority. He was placed over all the presidents and princes, who had to reckon with him about the expenditure and revenue of their respective provinces. The great, the one object of his life, was that the king, his master, should not be wronged, should have no damage—so careful was he of his master's interests, so jealous was he of his master's honour. What an example we have here, beloved, in this faithful servant of God! Are we like him? Are we so careful of our Lord and Master's interests, that He receives no damage at our hand? Would God it were so! Alas! alas! what dishonour, what reproach, what damage do we bring to His blessed name, by our worldliness and inconsistencies. It is not our name nor our cause that suffers, but His. How often is it cast in our teeth, that many who profess the name of Christ are very careless in their business transactions, very unpunctual in their engagements, very greedy and grasping after money, very slovenly in their homes and persons, and very light and flippant in their manners and speech? With some truth, it has been said, that Christians often make unkind, exacting masters and mistresses; unfaithful and disobedient servants; careless tradesmen, making promises they don't fulfil; men of business, whose transactions are not altogether honest and above-board. Herein the Master suffers great damage. I ask you, beloved children of God, is this true of any of you? The King gets great damage through the worldliness of His people. It is the crying sin of the church. It is the cause of more infidelity in our land, than almost anything else. How sad to see the saints of God conformed to this world, in its principles, maxims, habits and dress. Yes, dress, beloved. How little difference between the world and some of you in this? Great damage to the King! Separation from the world and to God, is the true position of His child in this world that murdered our Lord. God's standard is a high one, and very different from the worldly Christian's. The latter says, "I don't see any harm in doing this or that, or in going here or there." God says, "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Then the King will have no damage. If any of you, beloved friends, think there is no harm, as you call it, in this or that, I tell you honestly, before God, your heart is not right with Him. God's standard is Paul's—"For me to live is Christ." By this he measured everything in heaven and earth. Daniel was faithful to his God, and therefore faithful to his earthly master. The chief object of our lives, beloved friends, ought to be faithfulness to our Master in all things, that He may have no damage; but rather that, as His letters of commendation—His epistles—we may be known and read of all men. The testimony that Daniel's bitter enemies were compelled to give of him, you will find in verse 4: "Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion, nor fault, forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him." Glorious testimony, wrung from a watchful, hating world. Oh! beloved, should it not be so now with us? What hinders? The world is keeping our hearts; therefore worldliness flows from them, and displays itself on our persons, in our speech, manners, and ways. Will you read Philippians ii. 15, and there see how we should live in the midst of this strange land, surrounded by the King's enemies. "That ye may be blameless and sincere (margin), the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom shine ye (margin) as lights in the world." This, beloved, is our rule of conduct, and nothing short of it; else the King will suffer damage. Be not conformed to this world. Be punctual in your engagements. Be blameless in your transactions. Be honest in your dealings. Be not greedy of gain. Be kind as masters. Be faithful and obedient as servants. Be whole-hearted for Christ. Be real. Then the King will not suffer damage.
There is just one thing more I would like you to observe about Daniel—namely, his unswerving faithfulness to his God. By his faithfulness to his king and master he made many enemies, who were determined to get rid of him. They could find no flaw in his blameless character, nothing on which they could found a charge for impeachment; therefore they turned to his character as a servant of God, and determined to test "concerning the law of his God." They knew he was in the habit of praying three times a day, with his face towards Jerusalem, and they resolved to have a decree passed, which would either compel him to give up testifying to the world around him of his trust and confidence in his God, or else, if he persisted in his faithfulness to God, that he would be cast into the den of lions. They passed a decree with this object, and got the king in ignorance to be a party to their devilish plot. The signature was attached, the death-warrant was signed, and now the enemies triumph. Unfaithfulness or death? How did Daniel act in this trying hour? He well knew the snare that was laid for him. He well knew that his enemies had succeeded in their scheme. He well knew that the decree was passed and could not be altered. He well knew, that if he broke the law, he must bear the consequence. Death was staring him in the face, and either he must pray in the secret of his closet, or else die. How did he act? Did he pull down his blinds? Did he give up praying to his God? Not a bit of it. He looked not at nor cared for consequences. Obedience was his duty, and at all costs, he must be faithful. Many might think that, under the circumstances, he would be quite justified in giving up praying for thirty days; or at all events, if he did, in shutting himself up, or doing it when nobody was watching—that he ought to compromise, and not contend for a thing that was not essential to salvation. Oh! beloved, in these days of world-bordering liberality and compromising, how many there are who argue thus! Everything is essential that has reference to the salvation of the soul and their own interests. But when it comes to a question of principle, or truth, or the Lord's honour, it is non-essential. To maintain a principle, to contend for the truth, or to be jealous for the honour of our Jesus, entails the world's hatred, the sneer of the companion, and even the disapproval of Christians, that few are bold enough to take their stand in this world alone with God. Daniel, bold as a lion, and undaunted by the fear of death, scorned to give in, but walked bravely on in the path of obedience, leaving consequences to God. And what have we, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, to do with consequences? "Obedience is better than sacrifice." To be true and faithful to Christ, in the midst of His enemies, is to walk in fellowship with a rejected Lord. This is the path of obedience, the path of blessing. As one has said, "I would rather be a marble statue in the pathway of obedience, than accomplish the mightiest exploit at the expense of God's truth." Noble, faithful Daniel contended not for a non-essential. He contended for a great principle—he rested on a blessed promise, he swerved not, compromised not, yielded not, though the consequence was death. Turn with me to 2 Chron. vi. 36—38, and vii. 16. You will see what God says about Jerusalem—that His eyes and His heart shall be there continually, and that, if His people are in captivity, in a strange land, and repent and pray towards Jerusalem, God's metropolis—where God's temple was, that He would hear and answer their cry. Was this a non-essential to Daniel? Certainly not. Oh! beloved, may we be more like him, walking boldly in the narrow path of obedience, thinking everything essential that touches our blessed Master's honour and glory, and non-essential that touches our ease, comfort and enjoyment. May we ever be able to say with truth---
"Still on Thy holy Word
We'll live, and feed, and grow—
Go on to know the Lord,
And practice what we know."