“…youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:4).
Daniel had a job. Being a servant of God and a prophet did not mean that he just sat around, meditated, and waited for God to give him the next message. Daniel was an adviser to the King of Babylon. God specifically put him in this job so that Daniel could serve as His prophet to the king.
What training did he need to go through in order to be that adviser? He had to be trained in the “literature and language of the Chaldeans.” 3 years of training, by the way (Daniel 1:5). It was at the “end of the three years” that Daniel and the others would stand before the king. As my friend, John Sandusky, said one time, Daniel was at Babylon University.
Daniel’s heart was set on God, but he was still trained in the things of the world. In order for him even to have access to the king so that he could influence him, he had to be trained in the ways of the Babylonians. That was part of the price of admission. The young Daniel had to learn a whole new culture and a new language. He was around a lot of strange people with a lot of weird ideas, and I’m pretty sure he was exposed to a whole new world of debauchery in Babylon. But all the same, he had to be educated in these ways, and he was still faithful to God while he was doing it.
Being trained in the things of the world doesn’t mean your heart is not set on God. Devoting lots of time and energy to learning skills, trades and careers is necessary so that you can take care of your family and have money to help others in need. You are also going to be set by God in various places in the culture so that you can influence those around you. We need Christians in the medical field, in law offices, in computers, in police and firefighting, in politics, in universities, etc. But again, in order for that to be possible a person has to dedicate a lot of time, money and energy to that profession.
Daniel wasn’t just sitting around reading his Torah every day, he had books to read and classes to attend. Endless hours of training and lectures were part of his everyday life, I’m sure. Paul was a tent-maker, he had to learn that trade, and that took time. It seems that Paul also was well-versed in Greek poetry, maybe that was part of his education as a youth. Jesus was a carpenter. David and Amos were shepherds. Moses also grew up in a heathen palace and was educated in the ways of a foreign people. Luke was a physician. Lydia was a seller of purple and Tabitha was skilled at making clothing. All these things take a great deal of time and attention in order to master.
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.