A Legacy of Good Character

“The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. ‘May the king live forever!’ she said. ‘Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.’"—Daniel 5:10–12 (NIV)

There’s an old expression packed with wise counsel when it comes to the kinds of choices we make and the lives we lead: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

As we’ve been tracking through the Book of Daniel, we’ve seen how his choices led to a life that honors God and the good reputation that followed him. In chapter 1, after King Nebuchadnezzar examined Daniel and his companions “in every matter of wisdom and understanding,” he found them to be ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in the king’s service because they chose not to defile themselves with the king’s food and wine. Later, in chapter 2, we see King Nebuchadnezzar fall prostrate before Daniel and pay him honor after God gives him the revelation and interpretation of his dream, which none of the other wise men or sorcerers could do.

And in today’s verse, we see a similar scenario playing out where King Nebuchadnezzar’s descendant, King Belshazzar, is extremely troubled by a vision he sees of a hand inscribing a mysterious message on the wall that no one could interpret. It’s at this point Bible commentators agree the queen-mother (not the king’s wife) arrives on the scene and reassures Belshazzar, telling him about a man living in his kingdom “who has the spirit of the holy gods in him” and who “was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems.” In other words, Daniel’s good reputation preceded him even though he was nearing 90 years of age and living in obscurity at this time, according to Matthew Henry’s commentary.

What’s the lesson here? Daniel’s integrity and character were so deeply rooted in God that his reputation followed him for generations, and his influence extended well into his old age. He was sought out when no one else could come to the king’s aid because he created a legacy of honoring God in all that he did. Daniel was the kind of person who embodied Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

We would be wise to do the same in building a life that honors Christ in the choices we make.

DIG: How did Daniel build such a good reputation among pagan kings?

DISCOVER: Why do you think it’s important to honor God in the small choices we make each day?

DO: Although it’s not always easy, let’s purpose to not lean on our own wisdom and trust in God with our lives, asking for His strength to be made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) so that we can give Him glory.