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But when the good priest died some princes of Judah came and flattered Joash, and persuaded him to leave the God of their fathers, and to set up again the idols that had been destroyed. Then God sent His Spirit on Zechariah, a son of Jehoiada, and he warned the king and the people ; but they would not hearken, but stoned Zechariah with stones at the command of Joash, even in the court of the house of the Lord. How sad that Joash did not remember that in that very place his own life had for seven years been guarded by the father of the very man he thus ordered to be slain !
But though Joash forgot, God remembered, and soon the army of Syria came against Jerusalem, and though the Syrians were a small company, and Joash sent a great host to meet them, yet the Syrians destroyed them, and sent all the spoil of them to Damascus.
King Joash himself at this time was very sick, and two of his own servants conspired against him, and slew him on his bed, and he died.
What may children learn from this story ? Surely this, that it is dangerous to forsake the guides of their youth. That if they are
so happy as to have a wise and good clergyman, who has taught them the will of God, and, in Confirmation or at other times, tried to keep them in the right way, then, even when he is dead and gone, they should walk on in the same paths of holiness, though false friends or false teachers wish to lead them astray. As King Solomon says,
'Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.'
land of Israel, and they had learned to know the true God
So Daniel, who was, perhaps, the oldest of these four
But when Daniel spoke of this to the officer who had charge of these boys, he said that he would be in danger of losing his own head if they did not obey the king's orders. Then Daniel said to Melzar, who had been set over them, words like these : 'I pray thee try us for ten days, and give us only pulse (vegetables) to eat and water to drink, and then look on our faces and also on the faces of the other children who have been fed from the king's table, and as thou seest it to be, so deal with thy servants.'
Melzar agreed to make the trial, and at the end of ten days the faces of the four children were fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat of the king's meat. So Melzar no longer asked them to use the rich meats and wines, but he gave them the simple food and water that they wished.
Most likely their companions would laugh at these four, and say, "What fools to eat pulse porridge when you might have dainty meats ! what fools to drink water when you might have wine !' but if their companions thought them foolish God thought them wise. He was well pleased with
their faithfulness to Him, even in the strange land to which they had been carried prisoners, and so He gave them a reward. “As for these four children God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.'
And when the time came for these captive youths to be brought into the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, “among them all none were found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, therefore they stood before the king; and in all difficult matters Nebuchadnezzar found them ten times better than all the wise men that were in his whole kingdom.'
This old-world story teaches children that they should not care too much about what they are to eat.
I fear there are many children who are so fond of nice things that they would never have done what Daniel did- they would have been tempted by Nebuchadnezzar's rich meats and sweet wines, and would have forgotten the law of their God.
The story shows us also, that though wine may be needed for the sick and aged, simple food and pure water are best for children, and perhaps this is one reason why we often see the little children of the poor with plump and rosy cheeks, while children of the rich are pale and white.
And the story teaches us one other truth--that God's eye is upon those who obey Him, and that even if they sometimes have to deny themselves things that they would like, yet He will reward them; and whether He gives them to be fair, and beautiful, and strong, and long-lived, or to be weak, and sickly, and early called away from earth, they shall surely in the end ‘stand before the King, yet not before a Nebuchadnezzar in any earthly Babylon, but before Christ the King of glory in the New Jerusalem that is above !