Monday, September 11, 2017
A Time for Prudence and Discretion
Dan. 2:12 Because of this the king flew into a violent rage and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 The decree was issued, and the wise men were about to be executed; and they looked for Daniel and his companions, to execute them. 14 Then Daniel responded with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the king’s chief executioner, who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon; 15 he asked Arioch, the royal official, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 So Daniel went in and requested that the king give him time and he would tell the king the interpretation.
The Babylonian wise men had been called before the king where they had been asked to do the impossible. They were supposed to not only interpret the king’s dream, but to tell him what it was that he did dream. Evidently Daniel had not attended this meeting, and it may have been his desire to keep himself pure and not to be associated with the typical magicians of his day. He was not one who practiced magic, but one who completely depended on God.
Suddenly Daniel found himself being rounded up by the executioner because of the failed responses of the other wise men of the kingdom. Now we begin to see some of Daniel’s character revealed. Not only is this a man who relies upon God, but he reflects a wisdom and grace beyond his years. We are told that he responds with “prudence and discretion” to the executioner. The end result is that he saves his own life as well as the lives of all the magicians.
Learning how to respond in difficult situations is not always an easy lesson in life. Far too often our emotions get the best of us and we want to tell people what we really think. Just imagine if that had been the way in which Daniel had responded? More than likely he, along with hundreds of other people, would have lost their lives. Daniel’s entire life reflected the way in which he served God. His spiritual disciplines included prayer, study and physical fitness. Now, that discipline carried over into his interactions with others. He took the time to be prudent and to have discretion.
Prudence meant that he had foresight. He could see where all of this was going and the end result was not good. I don’t think that it is a surprise to Daniel that all the magicians’ lives are saved for he would have thought through the situation. He didn’t return to the king just to save his own neck, but his prudence meant that he was willing to cautiously think through the situation and determine the best outcome for all. Just think about the relationships that he was building for the future and this would affect his ability to be a leader in the kingdom! His thoughtful action saved the lives of many.
Daniel was very careful not to embarrass anyone in this situation. He used discretion, working hard not to offend anyone. Daniel did not make fun of the other magicians and their inability to do what the king asked. He actually lumped himself together with all of them and told the king that he couldn’t do what the king asked either. However, what he did do was affirm the power of God to be able to do what the king wanted. He used the opportunity to declare solidarity, or unity with the other magicians, and to place all glory and trust in God. That is a great example of discernment.
Everyday we are confronted with situations in which we must choose how we will respond. Before responding we must act with prudence. Think about the desired outcome. Often speaking what first comes to our mind will not be the solution to the problem, but slowing down and taking time to see the real issue will help. Daniel could have simply focused on the order for his execution without finding out the details behind that order. He could have fought the executioner, but instead he chose to calmly find out the what had really happened. Once he did that, he was able to work on a genuine solution.
Discretion is not something that is always practiced. Not all of our dirty laundry needs to be aired! Not everyone has to suffer punishment for what has happened. There is no need to embarrass others because of a difficult situation. Discretion means we look for a win-win.
Daniel had learned to spend much time in prayer with God. He had been transformed and became more and more like God in his actions and reactions. Prudence and discretion don’t just happen naturally but are a learned discipline. We begin by spending time with God and then slowing down and taking a deep breath before we react. We may just save our live — and the lives of many others!
Lord, thank you for the role models which you have placed before us in your word. Amen.