Discretion and Discernment

Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; Daniel 2:14

In the first chapter of Daniel we saw that Jerusalem had been taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Things were really bad for God’s people. The king had taken in some of the brightest young men to train for his personal service. Daniel and three of his friends were chosen. They made the decision that they would live for God. They made the best of this situation with the king while not compromising their belief in Yahweh.

God protected them and guided their footsteps. We even see that God blessed them with wisdom and knowledge. God had a plan and He was preparing them for what was to come. We are told this because the writer makes it clear that Daniel could understand visions and dreams.

As we move into chapter two we see that Nebuchadnezzar was troubled and was even losing sleep. This was due to dreams that he was having. The king calls in all of the magicians, conjurers, and sorcerers to interpret this dream. The king thinks that these people are going to be able to interpret a dream that was from God. As it turns out they were not able to do this. When looking for godly answers we cannot look to someone that does not believe in Yahweh.

The king becomes upset and tells them what will happen if they do or do not interpret this dream. He tells them that they will receive gifts if the dream is interpreted. He also made it clear that they would be torn from limb to limb if they did not interpret the dream properly. After some time went by they told the king that there was no man on earth that could interpret this dream properly. They were looking at a problem of God in a worldly perspective. So the king put out a decree to kill all of the wise men, including Daniel and his friends.

Things looked extremely bad for Daniel. When the king’s men found Daniel he was going to be killed. It was just a matter of time before Daniel was found since he was part of the king’s service. Since Daniel was wise he used discretion and discernment when Arioch found him. This likely saved his life. Odds are we are not going to face a situation like this; However, we are going to face times were we have to use discretion and discernment.

Discretion is behaving in a way that avoids causing conflict. Daniel knew what to say when he was approached by Arioch. He did not become belligerent with Arioch. He cordially requested time with the king. He knew that God had given him the ability to interpret dreams. He knew that God had prepared him for this moment.

When we are put in situations in life that seems tricky we have to use discretion. We have to know what to say without causing offense. We have to know how to act and react. Your actions and thoughts when you react can make the difference in how a situation is handled. If you act in an offensive way the situation is going to have a different outcome then if you handle it with discretion.

We also see that David used discernment. Discernment is the ability to judge when and how to respond. It is not enough to know what to say or how to respond, you also have to know when the time is right. When handling situations timing is crucial. Discernment also involves knowing if you should respond in a situation. There are plenty of times where we have got involved in situations that we should not have because it did not involve us.

Discretion and discernment comes over time. It is not something that we are born with. As time went on God gave Daniel and his comrades the knowledge they needed. This knowledge led to Daniel being able to respond in an appropriate way and with sound judgment.

Take away:

  1. When facing situations make sure you use discretion and respond in a way that does not cause offense, rather respond in a way that honors God.
  2. Discernment will allow us to judge others and situations well.
  3. Discretion and discernment come from knowledge that is given by God.
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