Nebuchadnezzar was looking to these young men for service
in his palace and so was Yahweh. The king was looking on the
outward appearance and God was looking at the heart. Both
sovereigns wanted the finest to grace the royal court. The
chosen royal youths would be without defect, handsome,
intelligent, knowledgeable, quick to learn and qualified to
serve. How many measured up to the king’s qualifications we
are not told; only four met God’s standard of holiness. The
others succumbed to logic, psychology and the temptation to
Human logic would say, “Marduk,
Nebuchadnezzar’s god, had won. Since Marduk is superior to
Yahweh, why obey God’s commands?” Psychology would have the
youths conform to the present world system: “When in Babylon,
do as the Babylonians do!” However, God’s people are not to be
conformed to the world; they are the salt of the earth and
light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16).
When tested to conform, or to not conform, the exiles
had an outstanding example from their past to follow.
Moses might have been brainwashed in Egypt. He was
educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was
powerful in speech and action (Acts 7:22), but he would
not be corrupted (Hebrews 11:24-26). Likewise, Daniel and
his three friends chose not to be brainwashed and
corrupted in Babylon.
Many secular universities
and colleges are like the Babylonian school—they attempt
to have their students conform to a humanistic and
atheistic system of values. These values are designed to
whitewash God out of the picture, and render young minds
brainwashed to serve the adversary of God. The NT urges
the believer to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1
Thessalonians 5:22, KJV).
To eat the king’s fare
would have the appearance of giving allegiance to the
Babylonian gods, especially if the meats came from
sacrificial offerings. At the same time, the youths would
have been disobeying God’s Law regarding the eating of
only “clean” foods (Leviticus 11) and meat without blood
(Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:23).
Why did the
youths reject wine since only high priests and kings were
not to drink wine nor strong drink (Leviticus 10:8-11;
Proverbs 31:4-6)? It is noteworthy that the angel Gabriel
said that John the Baptist was not to drink wine nor
strong drink (Luke 1:15). There was no prohibition against
such drinking for these lads. They chose the
uncompromising life, which is characterized by opting for
the highest, noblest, and best.
Great men have
fallen to the power of strong drink. Belshazzar lost the
Babylonian Empire while involved in a drunken feast.
History records that Alexander the Great, in a similar
vein, lost his world empire at the age of thirty-three.
Daniel stands as a polemic against these two rulers in his
Daniel and his three friends knew that
Yahweh’s prophets predicted their coming to Babylon. The
youths were still under God’s rule. They would pass the
crucial test of faith because they feared the LORD.
They chose to eat vegetables, probably edible seeds of
leguminous plants, such as peas, beans, and lentils,
instead of royal food. Wine and food affect disposition
and muscle tone; however, the rapid and favorable results
of abstaining were of God, not the diet!
resolved (literally, “set in his heart”) not to defile
himself with the royal food and wine and his three friends
agreed. The heart is the center of life according to
Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it
is the wellspring of life.” Disobedience defiles the whole
person, which is why Daniel says “himself” in 1:8.
Apparently, the four youths had hidden God’s Word in
their heart. Faithful Jews repeated daily “the Shema” of
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your strength. These commandments
that I give you today are to be upon your hearts."
Hence, one’s heart, soul, mind and strength are
defiled by rebellious disobedience. To keep God’s commands
is to love Him. This crucial test required a crucial
decision. Fear man or fear the LORD. It called for
strength and courage as well as wisdom. This chapter
illustrates the key
verse of the Bible.
fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge
of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).
Daniel feared the LORD and in return, he received the
wisdom to make his way out of this temptation. The text
says, “God had caused the official to show favor and
sympathy to Daniel.” God led Daniel into trial but
provided a way out of temptation.
has seized you except what is common to man. And God is
faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you
can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a
way out so that you can stand up under it (1
Daniel’s request to Ashpenaz,
the chief official, was courageous, polite and persistent.
It displayed faith and fairness. Nevertheless, Ashpenaz
feared the king. If his charges lost weight because of a
change of diet or appeared pale and undernourished, he
could be beheaded. He was answerable to his superior, who
was in this case the hot-tempered monarch of the empire.
The official feared the king, but the lads feared Yahweh.
In Acts 5:29, Peter and the other apostles stated what
these four knew and understood at a young age: “We must
obey God rather than men!”
Daniel was young and
daring, but were the odds against him? No! “If God is for
us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone;
Dare to have a
Dare to make it known!
courage sets the stage for the upcoming events in his
book. The Word of God is plain; one must take a positive
stand; dare to stand with the few, or perhaps alone, and
trust the grace and power of our faithful God—dare to be a