The relationship between Jonathan and David gets a lot of hype in Sunday morning sermons, and for good reason. That is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of spiritual bond.
In rereading Daniel 4 recently, however, I found another lovely example of relational beauty. Daniel’s faithful service to God is often recounted, but have you ever noticed how dearly he also treated King Nebuchadnezzar? His faithfulness to speak God’s words in truth to the King, while still remaining compassionate and hopeful towards Nebuchadnezzar is something truly worth admiring.
King Nebuchadnezzar seeks the interpretation of a dream but none of his magicians, astrologers, or soothsayers will give him a reply. So, he seeks out Daniel (also called Belteshazzar). Daniel hears the dream and seems troubled to give a reply:
Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you.”
Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!”Daniel 4:19
There are two things I love about his response:
- Daniel clearly did not seek the King’s ill-will. He was a compassionate and faithful servant.
- Daniel had to obey God and spoke the truth to the King after being pressed. Human but faithful; that is beautiful.
In reflecting on this story, I couldn’t help but to think of how often our own communication with one another fails at this simple and honorable kind of faithful honesty.
Nearly everyone I know (self included) has been guilty of posting a vague truth-ism with an intended nameless target on social media. It’s often posted under the guise of just telling the truth, while denying what is relational: namely, the fact that we should have spoken it to the intended party alone. This is a social media pandemic.
But I’ve also witnessed my fair share of bullet-spraying from the pulpit that could have benefited from a private compassionate conversation instead of a vague and careless killing spree (and, likely, been more effective).
The motives for such actions are many, so we won’t get into that, though I would say the bulk of them fall beneath the categories of fear and a general lack of brotherly love… sometimes embarrassment.
What is the purpose of our bullet-spraying, after all? Is it to pull the trump card out and demean the other person? Or is it because we genuinely desire a heart reconciled to God and righteousness?
Daniel again proves winsome after interpreting the dream when he behooves Nebuchadnezzar to repent.
“Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”Daniel 4:27
The call to action.
Again, Daniel proves his faithfulness to God by speaking the truth of the remedy needed for King Nebuchadnezzar — and doing so with the hopes that judgement might be shortened or lessened.
If only we all had such friends!
Examine your belt of truth today, saints. If it needs some loving care, repent and submit to God. You are beloved in Christ.
Enjoy the 4th of July weekend!