Dare to Be a Daniel

Yesterday, we were studying the book of Daniel with the college class at church. During the lesson, our college pastor, John Aaron Matthew, referred several times to a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon called “Dare to Be a Daniel.” The sermon was delivered on January 15, 1893, and can be found here.

The sermon takes its title from a popular song written by Philip P. Bliss (who also composed “Man of Sorrows, What a Name,” which was sung in our morning worship service yesterday), and quotes the song’s chorus:

Dare to be a Daniel! Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!

Incidentally, this was Spurgeon’s second sermon which made reference to this song (the first, “Daniel’s Band”, can be found here), which Bliss composed as a teaching tool for a children’s Sunday School class he was teaching. Almost 150 years later, it remains an instructional tune, which I learned as a child, and which my kids have in their music collection at home:

A few things that stand out upon reflection on the lesson, and after reading those two Spurgeon sermons:

  1. I love that Spurgeon preached so often from the Old Testament. It seems we have a tendency to treat the Old Testament as a compilation of “stories” that we teach our kids in Sunday School, and spend most of our adult lives studying the New Testament. But the truth is that the gospel is found in both testaments, and we need to be fed a steady diet of Old and New if we are to understand any of it in its proper context. It’s one reason I’m so fond of The Gospel Project (the curriculum from which our lesson in Daniel was taken), and so glad that our pastor alternates teaching Old and New Testament books in his sermons.
  2. Spurgeon compares Daniel to John the Apostle, speaking of them as counterparts. In fact, in the second of the sermons listed above, he teaches on the life of Daniel while expositing 1 John 4:9-21. If there ever was an Old Testament saint whose love for God cast out all fear, it was surely Daniel!
  3. It seems that Philip Bliss took his Sunday School lesson to heart, exhibiting the love of Christ and the bravery of Daniel in his death. Just three years after composing “Dare to Be a Daniel,” Bliss and his wife were travelling via train through Ohio, when a bridge they were crossing collapsed near Ashtabula, Ohio, sending the train plummeting into a ravine. Bliss escaped the wreckage alive, but climbed back into a burning carriage trying to save his wife. Both were among the 92 people who died in the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster. Among the wreckage, Bliss’ trunk was recovered undamaged. Inside it were found the lyrics to a new hymn he had just composed: “I Will Sing of My Redeemer.”

And because you really can never have too much Spurgeon, there’s one more resource you should check out. I told the college students in my small group yesterday that they should all read Spurgeon’s “Lectures To My Students” at their earliest convenience. It’s incredibly helpful, and not the least bit outdated, though it was written more than a century ago. You can get it for FREE as a PDF, or for under a dollar for Kindle, so there’s no reason not to!

Image Credit: This painting is by the 17th Century Flemish painter Sir Peter Paul Reubens, and is on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

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