Gift of Competence—Unbounded for Human Effort with Faith of God

Daniel invoked competence of God, verified to the satisfaction of king Nebuchadnezzar, interpreted his dream, and won the king’s acknowledgement of the power of God. The interactions confirm our understanding that competence is a gift from God, includes capability of verification to win human confidence, and is unbounded as God extends it as necessary to accomplish his purpose.

Gift of Competence - Daniel Interprets Dream
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We discuss interactions between Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar, regarding Daniel’s first dream interpretation for the king, to extend our understanding that competence is a gift from God. His gift of competence includes the capability of verification to satisfy human standards and win others’ confidence in one’s ability to apply the competence to their benefit. Human demand for verification of competence is well illustrated by King Nebuchadnezzar demanding the dream interpreter first tell him his dream so he can rely on the interpretation.

Also, we learn through the interactions that God’s gift of competence is unbounded. He extends competence as necessary to accomplish his purpose.

Cut out but not by human hands
Cut out but not by human hands
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The example from Daniel illustrates that God extends human competence to accomplish an objective consistent with his purpose. Daniel’s recognition that he could rely on the unbounded competence of God defined a clear contrast between him and the Babylonian diviners. The diviners declared the king’s demand impossible to satisfy because they relied solely on human competence [Daniel 2: 11]: “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.” In contrast, Daniel recognized that human competence derives from the unbounded competence of God and urged his friends “to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon” [Daniel 2:18].

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Conflict Resolution Example from Daniel

During his early years of captivity in Babylon, Daniel and three compatriots faced an internal conflict with fulfilling their commitment to worship and serve God while being obedient to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king had allotted them a daily ration of food and wine from his supply as part of their preparation to enter his elite service. However, Daniel believed the royal diet would compromise his relationship with God but also recognized he owed obedience to the king and his officials. We study Daniel’s interactions with the king’s staff to understand his approach to negotiating a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

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We begin a bible study series based on the experience of Daniel and three compatriots, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego), during their captivity in Babylon. This first session in the series focuses on understanding Daniel’s approach to peaceful resolution of a conflict triggered by the king’s diet requirement for Daniel and his friends.

Royal diet offer
Royal diet offer
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The king had placed them on a diet based on daily allotment from his own supply of food and wine to support a healthy and robust appearance as part of their training for the king’s service. However, Daniel believed consumption of such food or drink would compromise his relationship with God but also recognized he owed a duty of obedience to the king and his officials. He negotiated a peaceful resolution based on substituting a diet of vegetables and water for the king’s delicacies. Thus, he and his friends remained obedient to the king without engaging in any practice that could compromise their commitment to worship God.

The study provides opportunity to discuss some guiding principles of Christian mediation. As we discuss in a previous study under Christian Basis for Mediation: Part 2 of 2, Christian mediation requires a commitment to peaceful resolution motivated by God’s promise of blessing for peacemakers [Matthew 5:9]. Also, successful mediation often will include seeking knowledge and understanding of the facts and a resolution based on respect for the facts. Daniel’s approach to resolving the conflict appears based on similar principles and consists of the following.

  1. He was motivated to resolve the matter peacefully.
  2. He showed knowledge of the chain of command and recognized who had authority for each decision needed to resolve the conflict.
  3. He had faith of God providing a resolution but recognized the need to apply his human knowledge and capabilities while seeking God’s resolution.
  4. He identified the stakeholders and determined their expectations and how the expectations could be satisfied simultaneously.

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Receiving Message from God through Parent

God may alert a child to an opportunity by prompting the child’s parent to pass the information as parental instruction, advice, or request. The information could be delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor child recognizing at the time that the information is a special message from God to the child. The child will receive the message and progress toward the opportunity if he/she has a habit of listening to the parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information.

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This study concludes a series on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. We examine information based on four previous sessions to understand what a parent and child need to do to ensure God’s messages to the child through the parent are delivered and received effectively. Each message could present an opportunity for the child to encounter a life experience or accomplish a specific objective. Therefore, the child needs to receive the message effectively in order to preserve such opportunity. The examples used in the sessions appear well suited for the study as they include information to enable understanding how the parent and child in each case communicated effectively.

Wandering in wilderness for brothers
Wandering in wilderness for brothers
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Based on information from Joseph Called to Mission and David Called to Mission, we learn that God may direct a person toward an opportunity by positioning a need in his/her path. The person will encounter the opportunity if he/she recognizes the need, commits to providing service to address the need, and perseveres. In the case of Joseph, for example, the opportunity was his call to undertake a special mission to Egypt. For David, the opportunity was to confront Goliath.

Also, we learn from the two examples that God may often position a need in the path of a child by prompting the child’s parent to pass information to her/him. He may provide the information to the parent clearly so the parent is aware the information is from God and is for the child. For example, Eli was aware that God wanted to speak to Samuel.

Father sends son on errand
Father sends son on errand
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Alternatively, God may prompt the parent one way or the other to deliver information to a child without the parent being aware of the prompting. The parent passes the information to the child as part of normal parent-child interaction but neither the parent nor the child recognizes at the time that the information has been prompted by God. This category of messaging a child through the parent is important because of being channeled through normal parent-child interaction. One example is Joseph’s father sending him on an errand that became God’s call to Joseph to undertake a mission to Egypt. In another, David’s father sent him on an errand that became God’s call to David to confront with Goliath.

The information could be passed in the form of parental instruction, advice, request, or any other form of parent-child interaction. This bible study focuses on understanding the behavior, attitude, or habit of a child or parent that affects the effectiveness of passing and implementing such information in order to encounter the opportunity that God is presenting to the child through the information.

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David Called to Mission—Messaging Child through Parent

David’s father sent him on an errand to check on his senior brothers at the battlefield and report their conditions back to him. While on the errand, David encountered the challenge of Goliath and transitioned into a mission to kill Goliath, lead Israel to victory over Philistines, and establish himself as future leader of Israel. God called David to the mission by prompting his father to send him on the fateful errand. Through the mission, David teaches all people: if you pledge to worship and serve God and live according to the pledge, then God will be your God and will lead you to victory over every enemy or weapon set against you.

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Shepherd boy called to mission
Shepherd boy called to mission
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We examine the events leading to David’s confrontation with Goliath and draw an example to illustrate that God may send messages to a child through normal parent-child interactions. The study continues our series on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. We have identified three categories of such messaging based on previous sessions. In the first category, typified by the Call of Samuel, the message is clear to the parent and consists of information that the child should implement himself/herself with parental guidance. For example, Eli understood that God wanted to speak to Samuel and instructed him on how to respond. The second category consists of a clear instruction to a parent to implement for his/her child. For example, in Instruction to Parent for Child, we discuss God’s revelation to Rebekah regarding relationships between Jacob and Esau. The third category consists of messages delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor the child recognizing at the time that the information is a message from God. For example, in Joseph Called to Mission, we discuss Jacob sending his son on what he believed was an ordinary errand that we now understand as God calling Joseph to a special mission to Egypt.

David the slinger
David the slinger
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The current study discusses another example in the third messaging category. The example is based on events leading to David’s confrontation with Goliath. We discuss an understanding that the events illustrate God prompting a parent to pass information to a child that becomes a pivotal input to the child’s development. David’s father, Jesse, sent him on an errand to check on his brothers in the battlefield and bring back information about their condition. The errand took David to his encounter with and triumph over Goliath, leading Israel to victory when they feared defeat, and establishing himself as a future leader of Israel.

We see remarkable similarities between the call of Joseph to the Egypt mission (Joseph Called to Mission) and the call of David to battle Goliath. In each case, a father sends a child on an errand to check on senior brothers and report back to the father, the child runs into an obstacle on the way but presses on toward completing the errand, and the child confronts a situation that transforms the errand into a long-term mission of much greater significance. The events appear designed to provide opportunities for us to learn about clarity of parental communication and the importance of a child listening to the parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information.

Also, based on David’s encounter with Goliath, we learn about applying human effort with faith of God intervening in his own way and time through what we do at the human level. David triumphed over Goliath using weapon that would have been inadequate by any human standard. We examine his actions to identify what he did that could have contributed to his effectiveness against a formidable enemy.

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Joseph Called to Mission—Messaging Child through Parent

Joseph’s father sent him on an errand to check on his brothers and the flock and report their conditions back to him. However, the errand happened to be God’s call to Joseph to undertake a special mission to Egypt: to prepare a sanctuary for the young nation of Israel to survive a severe famine, prosper, and multiply into a great nation. Neither Joseph nor his father recognized the call at the time. God delivered the message by prompting his father to send him on the fateful errand. Also, we learn that God may allow adversity as a channel for effecting a positive change for a person. The person will be in better position to realize the change by remaining steadfast in living in the image of God despite hurting from the adversity.

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We continue our study series on parent child relationships focused initially on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. In previous sessions, we looked at examples in which the message was clear to the parent. In the Call of Samuel, for example, Eli eventually understood that God wanted to speak to Samuel and instructed him on how to respond. Similarly, each of the examples under Instruction to Parent for Child looked at a clear instruction to a parent to implement something for a child. The current study, in contrast, looks at an example in which the message was delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor the child knowing at the time that this was a message from God. We recognize the message today because of the benefit of hindsight based on accounts in the bible.

The example is drawn from the life of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob (also known as Israel). His father sent him on what appeared like an ordinary errand to go and check on his senior brothers tending flock in the field.

Jacob family moves to Egypt
Jacob family moves to Egypt
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However, later events indicate that God used the errand to call Joseph to a mission to Egypt: to prepare a sanctuary for the young family of Israel to survive a severe famine and grow and prosper to become the nation that God promised their ancestors. The example provides opportunity to learn the importance of clarity of parental communication and a child listening to a parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information. Furthermore, we learn from Joseph’s interactions with his brothers and other people that God may allow adversity as a channel for effecting a positive change for a person. Also, Joseph’s behavior during the adversity help us understand that such person will be in better position to realize the change by remaining steadfast in living in the image of God despite hurting from the adversity.

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Instruction to Parent for Child—Messaging Child through Parent

We discuss three biblical examples to illustrate that God may send message to a child as a clear instruction to the parent on behalf of the child. One example is drawn from God’s instruction to Abraham regarding circumcision of male offspring, the second from his instruction to Rebekah regarding Jacob-Esau relationship, and the third from his instruction to Joseph (earthly father of Jesus) regarding the flight to Egypt and back to Israel to protect baby Jesus from King Herod’s massacre of male children.

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We continue our bible study series on parent-child relationships, focusing initially on the understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. The study purpose is to increase awareness of the potential significance of parent-child interactions as among the mechanisms through which a parent passes critical guidance to a child. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Call of Samuel Example, God’s message to a child through the parent could be in the form of a clear instruction to the parent or a hidden instruction. In the case of a hidden instruction, God prompts a parent with information the parent passes to the child with neither parent nor child knowing at the time that the information is indeed a message from God. The current study focuses on messages delivered as clear instruction to a parent.

The example regarding Call of Samuel appears to be a mixture of the two forms. We will discuss hidden-instruction examples in subsequent bible studies.

Abraham ponders over God's instruction for descendants
Childless Abraham ponders
over God’s instruction for descendants
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In the current study, we discuss three examples of God’s message to a child delivered as a clear instruction to the parent. A characteristic of such message is the parent has responsibility to implement the instruction either directly for the child or by guiding the child through the implementation. The first example is drawn from God’s instruction to Abraham regarding circumcision of male offspring, the second from his instruction to Rebekah regarding Jacob-Esau relationship, and the third from God’s instruction to Joseph (earthly father of Jesus) regarding the flight to Egypt and back to Israel. Each of the examples discusses a clear instruction to a parent on behalf of a child.

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Messaging Child through Parent—Call of Samuel Example

God invited Samuel to be commissioned prophet. He sent the message through Eli, Samuel’s priest, teacher, and “parent.” However, Eli needed three alerts. He understood the message and delivered it to Samuel after the third alert. He informed Samuel that God was calling him, directed him on how to respond, and thereby granted him parental permission to respond. Samuel, on his part, received the message because he offered his attention to Eli persistently in response to what he believed was Eli calling him. He received the message because he had a habit of being attentive, respectful, and obedient to Eli.

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This bible study session begins our new series on parent-child relationships. Our purpose in the series is to study events and personalities described in the bible to gain insight into God’s expectations for parent-child interactions and relationships. We hope to understand information that God expects parents to transmit to their children as they grow up and how children should relate to their parents in order to benefit from the information. Today’s study on the call of Samuel fills a dual role as the third study in the series on Samuel and the introductory study for the series on parent-child relationships. Interactions that occurred at the call of Samuel lead to an understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents and expects children to be attentive, respectful, and obedient to their parents in order to receive the message.

Speak Lord! Your servant listens
Speak Lord! Your servant listens
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God wanted to speak to Samuel to start him on his career as a prophet. He alerted Samuel but did not reveal himself or provide him any information until Eli became aware of what was happening and directed Samuel on how to respond. Thereafter, God revealed himself to Samuel and spoke to him. We contrast God’s call of Samuel to his call of Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah and note that the call of Samuel differs from the other three because Samuel was under active parental supervision when God called him to prophecy. Therefore, interactions during the call of Samuel provide insight into God’s expectations for parent-child relationships. For example, whereas he called each of the other three directly and revealed himself to them clearly the first time, when he called Samuel, he directed Samuel to Eli and revealed to Eli that he was calling Samuel. Eli provided the message to Samuel, directed him on how to respond, and by so doing granted him parental permission to respond.

Eli receives Samuel
Eli receives Samuel
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Samuel lived and worked under Eli as his priest, teacher, mentor, and parent. Although Eli was not his biological parent, he was effectively “parent” to Samuel because of being his supervising adult in every aspect of his life right from childhood. Therefore, based on the interactions between Samuel and Eli during this event, we can surmise that God used the occasion of calling Samuel to prophecy to also highlight aspects of parent-child relationship, such as respect for parents, sensitivity to parental needs, and the role of parents as a channel for God’s messages to children.

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