By Beula Postlewait
“Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine . . . (Daniel 1:8, NIV 2011).
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service,” (Daniel 1:1-5, NIV 2011).
Now this was a pretty cushy job for slaves! These young men were to be given three years of instruction in the language and literature of the Babylonians before entering the king’s service, a near equivalent of a college degree. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among those chosen. They would receive preferential treatment—food and wine from the table of the king.
This posed a real problem for the Hebrew youth. Their religion forbade eating some kinds of meat. Also, it was almost certain the king’s food would have been offered to idols before serving it. What were they to do?
To Daniel the choice was clear. In a choice between obeying God or the Babylonian king, there really was no choice. Daniel would obey God. His three friends agreed.
“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. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king who has assigned your 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.’ Daniel then said to the guard . . . ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 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.’”
“At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. 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” (Daniel 1:8-17, NIV 2011)
At the end of the three-year period set by the king, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found them superior to all of the other men in training.
“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” (Daniel 1:8-20, NIV 2011).
It still takes courage today to live by holy standards in a world that is not holy. However, God gives courage to those who are willing to take a stand for Him.
Do you have that courage?