“8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.” Daniel 1:8-21 NIV
1 – Resolve – Daniel resolved not to defile himself. Verse 8
While the Babylonians could change their home, their textbooks, their menu, and even their names, they could not change Daniel’s heart. Why was their diet so important not to compromise in? There are a few theories as to why this was so impactful.
Theory 1 – It compromised Jewish dietary law. In Leviticus, Moses gave dietary laws to the Jews and it was very likely that the diet given to them by the king would violate their dietary law.
Theory 2 – The second theory suggests that the food would be defiling for Daniel and his friends because the common Babylonian practice was that the king’s food was sacrificed to a Babylonian deity before it was served to them. If they ate it, they would be subtly seeking the blessing of that Babylonian god on their health.
Theory 3 – The third theory suggests that eating the king’s food would increase their appetite for high-end living and conforming to Babylonian culture by eating the king’s food.
The case Daniel and his friends resolved to obey God’s Word. They refused to be “conformed to this world.” They could have made excuses. They could have gone with the crowd. They could have justified compromise. A life of great impact begins with small choices. Their refusal to compromise in a seemingly small area in this chapter opens the possibility of Daniel and his friends refusing to compromise in the bigger areas of life through the rest of the book.
When verse 8 says that Daniel resolved in his heart not to defile himself it is communicating that for Daniel, it wasn’t a choice. It wasn’t something he considered. It wasn’t an issue that he thought about under the pressure of a last minute decision. It was resolved.
This passage about resolve communicates to young men and women, that faithfulness to Christ in the little things of life when they are young opens the potential for God use them in bigger and greater ways when they are older. This passage teaches us that there are times that we as believers must be willing to take risks of obedience in places where only God can provide. The text also teaches us that while it is scary and risky, God steps in and honors the obedience of His people.
What area in life do you need to resolve in your heart not to defile yourself? It could be in resolving to maintain purity in relationships, resolving not to look at ungodly images on the computer screen, resolving to be modest in how you dress. It could be a resolve to be honest in school or at work. Where do you need to resolve in your heart to live in integrity?
2 – Blessed – God blessed Daniel and his friends with knowledge and understanding AFTER they resolved not to be defiled. Verse 17
Blessing is a great word. The book of Daniel shows that God blessed the obedience of his people. The term God’s blessing however should be clarified. We mighty think of God’s blessing means that God provides an absence of problems. This idea of blessing is not a Biblical idea. God didn’t bless Daniel and his friends with an absence of problems, but with greater power to overcome them.
In verse 17, we see that God blessed the four young men AFTER they resolved not to compromise. Although it looked like Nebuchadnezzar was in control, the truth is God was still in control over the king. God poured out favor and blessings upon those who resolve to be obedient to Him.
You may have discovered that your definition of the term blessing was wrong. What areas in your life is God blessing you with strength to overcome? Where is God blessing you with strength to endure? It might be with a
3 – Remain – Daniel remained there. Verse 21
Sometimes when we find ourselves in the middle of challenging circumstances that are not our fault, we want God to remove us from it. We pray for God to remove us from it. We make promises to God of what we will do for Him if He removes us from it. But we are called to remain.
Daniel teaches us that sometimes, God doesn’t remove us. Sometimes, we must learn to remain where we are. I’m sure Daniel and his friends longed to be removed from their circumstances. I am sure they longed for their families and their homes. Despite their longing, they would learn about times when they needed to remain. It seems that God was more concerned about who Daniel and his friends were becoming, than in what situation they found themselves in. I am learning these days that God is LESS concerned about where we are and far MORE concerned about who we are becoming.
Could it be that God wants you to remain where you are? Could it be that there is a situation in your life that is challenging that God will have to remain in? Cold it be that God is less focused on where you are and more focused on who are you becoming?
Holy Spirit empower me with the courage and integrity of Daniel and his friends. I believe, help me believe more. Increase my resolve to be faithful to You in what is little, so You can use me in much. Open my eyes to Your blessings to through the challenging times in life. Empower me with strength to remain when You are growing me to become a person of unstoppable resolve. In the awesome name of Jesus Christ, amen.