I was born before ultrasounds, so my parents had to come up with different possibilities for naming me depending on what gender I would be. The story goes that they were in disagreement on my boy name. My mom wanted me to be “Tim.” My dad–whose name was Tom Torkelson–knew what fun people can have with such a highly alliterative name, so he advocated that I be named “Eric.” (By the way, I wouldn’t have minded being Eric, but I think I would not have liked Tim. There was a 2nd string running back for the Packers when I was a kid named Eric Torkelson, no kidding). The name “Dan” was a compromise. My mom says it was flexible. I could be “Danny” when I was young; “Dan” when I had matured;”Daniel” as an adult.
Yesterday, in a moment of boredom, I took one of those online personality quizzes. It was titled “Which Bible character are you?” Some of the questions and answers in the quiz were a little sillier than I prefer, but I did give my best answers to them.
I wound up as Daniel. Here’s how the quiz describes my character.
“Often accused of being telepathic, you sense catastrophes coming before they arrive. If only those around you would learn to listen to your premonitions. It almost seems magical how you sense things before they are exposed, but it is not magic. You are intelligent with a keen sense for details. You see things most people miss. Keep your eyes and mind open.”
Overall, that’s not a bad evaluation of Daniel the Bible character. I can do without all the references to telepathy and magic. Indeed, the ability to see what is coming down the road is not magic, but I would also say it’s not necessarily about intelligence either. Brain research is learning more about the part of the brain that has the ability to project into the future. We all have one. It’s more a matter of how developed it is in each of us.
Daniel, the Bible character, was one of those “smartest guys in the room.” Or maybe it is better said that he was one of the wisest. While Solomon gets all the schrift in the Old Testament for wisdom, both Daniel and Joseph, whose stories bear a lot of similarities, are underestimated for their wisdom. Wisdom is exemplified, indeed manifested, in Christ. In Solomon, Daniel, and Joseph, that wisdom probably is a keen intelligence tied to an abiding faith. In the end, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The name Daniel means, “God judges me.” Daniel was less concerned about the judgments of the people around him, including the kings for whom he worked. Some of those kings rank among the most barbaric in history. Daniel knew who his judge was…and he appealed to him alone.
If we can learn something from Daniel, it’s not the importance of being smart. It’s rather the wisdom that comes from faith; the wisdom that knows that the only judge worth appealing to is God. God is my judge, and in Christ He has judged me not guilty through the forgiveness of sins purchased and won for me on the cross.
There’s the Good News. Let people judge you as they will. It’s not their place to judge you at all. You have a judge and He’s so much more gracious and merciful than we are when we get to pretending we are the judge.
I guess I like my name. God is my judge. And that’s true of you too, whether your name is Daniel or not!
God grant you joy in His judgment of you, not guilty by the merits of Christ.